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All OECD member countries and non-OECD adhering countries are obliged to set up a functioning National Contact Point (NCP). NCPs are government offices mandated to ‘further the effectiveness of the Guidelines’. Their core function is to promote adherence to the Guidelines by disseminating information about the Guidelines and the dispute resolution mechanism, and by handling ‘specific instances’ of alleged breaches of the Guidelines. A ‘specific instance’ is the OECD Guidelines’ official term for a case or complaint about a company’s alleged breach of the Guidelines. NCPs also have other obligations such as engaging in peer learning, and participating in the OECD Investment Committee’s work on the Guidelines and related topics.

NCP Structures

Governments adhering to the Guidelines are given the flexibility to structure their NCP in a way that fits their domestic situation. Thus, although all NCPs are government offices, they are not structured or organized in the same way. Some are housed in a single agency or ministry, such as the ministry of economy or trade. Other NCPs are inter‑agency/ministry bodies. Though specific structures may vary, all NCPs should be organised in such a way that enables them to handle the broad range of issues covered by the Guidelines. Furthermore, all NCPs are required to operate impartially and be ‘functionally equivalent’ by fulfilling a number of core criteria. Ideally, the NCP has staff with seniority and authority. NCPs can also include or seek the assistance of independent experts as well as representatives from civil society and business in carrying out their functions. NCPs are expected to develop and maintain relationships with the business community, worker organisations, and other interested parties that are able to contribute to effective implementation of and adherence to the Guidelines.

Although all NCPs are expected to be impartial and functionally equivalent, the structure and location of an NCP can influence how it handles complaints. OECD Watch recommends that NCPs not be housed in a single government department to avoid conflicts of interest (real or perceived) with the goals of the Guidelines. NCPs should be independent in nature and have an oversight body such as an ombudsman, steering board or a multi-stakeholder group that can advise on issues raised in complaints or on proper procedures for handling complaints.

For more information on NCPs’ institutional arrangements and the range of activities they should engage in, please read the full Procedural Guidance and Commentary of the Guidelines.

NCPs and the OECD Guidelines dispute resolution mechanism

NCPs are charged with handling complaints concerning alleged breaches of the Guidelines by an enterprise. NCPs do not usually take up cases on their own initiative, but handle cases when requested to do so by adversely-impacted stakeholders or civil society organizations. The Guidelines’ complaint process is intended to resolve alleged breaches of the Guidelines through conciliation and mediation, in other words facilitating dialogue between the parties. NCPs can handle complaints regarding alleged breaches of the OECD Guidelines by a multinational enterprise that have taken place in their own country. NCPs can also handle complaints about companies from their country that are allegedly involved in breaches of the Guidelines overseas.

In the Procedural Guidance and Commentary of Guidelines, principles are outlined as to how NCPs should handle complaints. Although NCPs have some freedom to establish their own procedures, NCPs are expected to handle complaints in a predictable manner.


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