The National Contact Points seek to promote the effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines in their respective country. They are guided by the principles of visibility, accessibility, transparency and accountability. Their role includes:
The National Contact Points engage in dialogue with one another within the Network of National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct. In addition, the OECD has established a working group on responsible business conduct.
The German National Contact Point (NCP)
The National Contact Point (NCP) is a unit at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy that is under the direct authority of the Director-General for External Economic Policy. It receives support from the Interministerial Committee on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Rules of Procedure (PDF, 60 KB)). The Committee discusses issues linked to the application of the OECD Guidelines and decides by consensus, with the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy as the lead ministry making a proposal. The members of the Committee include – apart from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy – the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In addition, the NCP receives advice and support from the Working Group on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Rules of Procedure (PDF, 158 KB)). The Working Group provides a platform for discussing all issues linked to the implementation of the OECD Guidelines. The Working Group includes not only members from the Ministries which form part of the Interministerial Committee, but also representatives of the OECD stakeholder groups (employers, employees and civil society) and also other experts on responsible business conduct
In 2017, the NCP subjected itself to a peer review by the OECD and three National Contact Points, delivering on a promise given in 2015 during the G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau. In April 2018, the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría submitted the peer review report – which had yielded a good result – to Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, setting out a number of recommendations and possibilities for further improvement (German National Contact Point Peer Review Report (PDF, 314 KB)) In March 2019 the NCP reported on the implementation of these recommendations to the OECD Working Group on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Peer Review of the German NCP (PDF, 195 KB)).
NCP and National Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
There are several links between the OECD Guidelines and the NCP and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF, 1 MB)United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF, 1 MB) and the National Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF, 681 KB). The OECD Guidelines includes references to the United Nation Guidelines when discussing human rights. The National Action Plan (NAP) includes rules and policies on the NCP.
The NAP includes a separate chapter on the role of the NCP in providing access to remedies and redress, highlighting the following points:
Since the inclusion of the chapter on human rights in the OECD Guidelines, human rights have played a growing role in the way the NCP handles its complaints procedures and its public relations.
The NAP confirms and formalises this interrelationship.
The NAP strengthens the interrelationship between the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles which has been established by the inclusion of the chapter on human rights by stating for Germany that “The complaints mechanism pursuant to the OECD Guidelines (...) also serves to implement the UN Guiding Principles (...)”. No additional complaints mechanism is established; rather, it links up to the existing instruments of the OECD Guidelines. This does not alter the NCP’s mandate deriving from the OECD Guidelines. The OECD Guidelines remain the reference point for the NCP’s work. In particular, the NCP is not a mechanism to implement the NAP.
The NCP has been enhanced in organisational and staffing terms so that it can fulfil its growing responsibilities relating to the dissemination of the OECD Guidelines and to the human rights complaints mechanism.
The NAP states that the NCP is the central complaints mechanism for foreign trade and investment promotion projects. It formulates the objective that companies using specific instruments to promote foreign trade and investment (export credits, investment guarantees, untied financial loans) must meet their due diligence obligations. This particularly includes participation in complaints procedures run by the NCP.
Correspondingly, the NAP assigns a fresh significance to the NCP and its complaints mechanism in terms of projects to promote foreign trade and investment: a company’s constructive participation in complaints procedures run by the NCP will be taken into account in future when the instruments to promote foreign trade and investment are deployed. The Federal Government reserves the right to exclude specific companies which do not address complaints from the instruments to promote foreign trade and investment.
A company’s constructive participation in a complaints procedure before the NCP can also be taken into account in the selection of companies that given the opportunity to take part in official visits undertaken by the Minister or the State Secretaries.
In order to implement these provisions, the NCP has introduced a regular, intensified exchange of information with the relevant sections in the Economic Affairs Ministry and the agents entrusted with deploying the instruments to promote foreign trade and investment.