Are you fighting for stronger laws or policies in your country on corporate accountability? The OECD Guidelines set a strong baseline that may help you in your advocacy.

What the OECD Guidelines say about policy coherence

The OECD Guidelines assert that alignment between national and international policy on responsible business conduct can foster coherence and harmonisation. Like the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Guidelines recommend a smart mix of voluntary and mandatory measures to promote responsible business conduct. You can use the OECD Guidelines and related OECD instruments (see below) to:

  • Highlight OECD governments’ endorsement of policy coherence between the OECD Guidelines and national and regional laws.
  • Encourage development of law and policy initiatives on responsible business conduct that are aligned with the OECD Guidelines.
  • Seek binding legislation establishing extraterritorial accountability for companies, with broad coverage of:
    • Companies – all sectors, sizes (small, medium, and large), and ownership types.
    • Harms – all internationally recognised human rights, environmental harms, and harms related to technology, corruption, and consumer interests.
    • Value chains – responsibility for harms from the company’s own operations, as well as harms from companies that provide products or services up their supply chain (that is, the producer or manufacturer) or use their products or services down their value chain (that is, the seller or user).
    • Liability or due diligence duty – liability for harms or, at a minimum, responsibility to undertake due diligence over and remedy harms.
  • Encourage National Contact Point complaints bodies to support implementation of laws and policies on responsible business conduct that are aligned with the OECD Guidelines.


Civil society should encourage governments to align their responsible business conduct policies and laws with the high standards and broad scope of the OECD Guidelines. On many issues, text can be taken directly from the Guidelines to build legislation on due diligence and corporate accountability. Together, the Guidelines and Declaration and Recommendation cited above show the OECD’s and individual governments’ strong support for harmonisation between the OECD Guidelines and national binding measures on due diligence and corporate accountability.

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Additional important information

What are the OECD Guidelines?

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (OECD Guidelines) are recommendations from governments to companies on how to act responsibly. The OECD Guidelines set non-binding standards for responsible business conduct across a range of issues important to communities, such as human rights, workers rights, and the environment, and also cover issues such as corruption and taxation.

Governments that follow the OECD Guidelines must establish a non-judicial complaints body called a National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct to promote the Guidelines and handle complaints about harmful business activity. The Guidelines set good standards for all companies, but complaints can only be filed against two types of companies operating across borders:

  1. multinational enterprises headquartered in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines, or
  2. multinational enterprises operating in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines.

How can you use the OECD Guidelines?

Civil society can use the Guidelines to:

  • Raise community awareness about company standards.
  • Talk to companies to demand better conduct.
  • File complaints when companies fall below the standards.
  • Advocate for strong laws and policies on corporate responsibility.

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