Are you fighting for a company to fix the harms it has helped cause to your human rights, community, or environment? The OECD Guidelines may help with your advocacy.
What the OECD Guidelines say about remedy
The OECD Guidelines state that companies with a close connection to harm from the business activity should help remedy (or fix) the harm. Even companies not as closely connected to the harm have a responsibility to use their influence to encourage remedy of the harm. You can use the OECD Guidelines to demand that companies:
- Provide or cooperate in remedy where they have caused or contributed to harms. This includes remedy for harms from reprisals against opponents of the business activity.
- Where they are only directly linked to harms through business partners, use their leverage (or influence) to encourage their business partners to prevent, mitigate, or remedy the harm. Even in such cases, you can still urge the company to contribute to remedy itself. This includes harms from reprisals against opponents of the business activity.
If your community or environment has been harmed by a company, you can explore filing a complaint against the company to a National Contact Point complaints body. If the complaint meets basic acceptability criteria and is accepted, then these complaints bodies are expected to:
- Actively use their expertise to explain expectations on remedy for companies.
- Foster discussion and agreement about the company’s commitment to implement the Guidelines in the future and, where relevant, address past harms.
- Help parties reach outcomes compatible with the high standards of the Guidelines – which means compatible with expectations on remedy.
Civil society should use the Guidelines to highlight that international responsible business conduct standards demand remedial action from companies. Before filing complaints, civil society should read OECD Watch’s guidance on how to file effective and strategic complaints that have the greatest chance of helping communities achieve remedy for the harms, whether directly from the complaint or from a broader strategy. During a complaint, complainants should encourage the National Contact Point to fulfil its responsibilities to facilitate agreement on remedy where expected by the Guidelines.
Read the text
- Chapter II (General Policies): paragraph 10 and 12; commentaries 15, 16, and 23
- Chapter III (Disclosure): paragraph 3
- Chapter IV (Human Rights): paragraph 6; commentary 51
- Chapter VI (Environment): paragraph 1(e)
- Procedures: paragraph I.C. chapeau; commentaries 25 and 37
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:
- multinational enterprises headquartered in a country that follows the OECD Guidelines, or
- 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.