All governments adhering to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (OECD Guidelines) are required to establish a “National Contact Point” (NCP) to hear complaints by people harmed by corporate activity.

OECD Watch helps communities and workers harmed by irresponsible corporate behaviour, as well as civil society focused on business and human rights, to understand and use this grievance mechanism to seek remedy and hold corporations accountable.

The complaint procedure

The Procedures of the OECD Guidelines require NCPs to handle complaints that allege companies have not observed the standards in the OECD Guidelines. Through the ‘specific instance’ (or complaint) procedure, NCPs should try to help resolve disputes between companies covered by the OECD Guidelines and people negatively impacted by the companies’ business activities. Any person, community, or organisation that can demonstrate an ‘interest’ (broadly defined) in the alleged violation can file a complaint.

Communities, workers, NGOs, and trade unions from around the world have used the OECD Guidelines’ grievance mechanism to seek compensation and other forms of remedy for harms from business activity, to stop harmful corporate activities from going forward, and to raise investor, political, and public awareness about the internationally recognised standards enterprises should – but often fail – to meet.

Five stages of a complaint

For potential complainants, it is helpful to consider the complaint process in five stages:

  1. Stage One: Deciding whether to file
  2. Stage Two: Preparing and filing the complaint
  3. Stage Three: Initial assessment
  4. Stage Four: Good offices
  5. Stage Five: Final statement and follow-up