Article - International Cooperation

National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (NCPs)

Introduction

Logo of the NCP Source : NCP

© NCP

Market liberalisation, lower transaction costs and increasingly powerful communications networks have made it much easier for companies to invest in other countries. To this end, and in response to greater public interest in the matter over the past few decades, the OECD has systematically extended its work on Corporate Social Responsibility or responsible business conduct. In 1976, the OECD Member States adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

News

National Contact Point continues to facilitate dialogue
On 25 November 2019, the head of Germany’s NCP, Mr. Detlev Brauns, signed a revised cooperation protocol agreed between Deutsche Post AG/DHL and global union federations ITF and UNI Global Union.
The structured cooperation between the parties involved has been facilitated by the successful completion of a mediation procedure before the NCP in accordance with the OECD Guidelines.
The parties’ agreement sets out the principles, procedures and deadlines they intend to use to find solutions to employment and industrial relations issues that work for both sides.

Every OECD member country and every non-OECD country that has committed itself to the OECD Guidelines (PDF: 624 KB, in German) is required to set up a National Contact Point (NCP).

The tasks of the NCP are:

  • to raise awareness for the Guidelines among employers, employees and civil society, and to promote their application;
  • to act as neutral mediators to settle disputes between the different parties in the case of complaints and indications regarding potential breaches of the Guidelines by German companies;
  • to work together with other NCPs and the OECD in further developing the Guidelines, and, if necessary, to respond to the procedures which fall with in the responsibility of other NCPs;
  • to answer general inquiries and specific questions arising from the application of the Guidelines.

The German NCP is based at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). In accordance with the affirmations in the 2015 G7 Schloss Elmau Summit Declaration and the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP, 2016), the German NCP 2016 was reorganised and assigned directly to the Director-General for External Economic Policy at the Economic Affairs Ministry. It was also equipped with additional staff and given its own budget. In their Hamburg Summit Declaration of 2017, the G20 Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their support for out-of-court complaints mechanisms such as the NCP.

Close collaboration with ministries, social partners and civil society

The federal ministries whose remit touches upon the Guidelines have formed a group (Interministeriellen Ausschuss (IMA) OECD-Leitsätze) where they regularly discuss these matters. In this body, all the decisions and measures of the NCP, current issues relating to the OECD Guidelines, and their further dissemination and the working methods of the NCP are closely coordinated and agreed by way of consensus. Chaired by the lead ministry, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the members of the group at present are 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. If necessary, additional ministries may be called upon to provide specific expertise.

The NCP and the ministries are furnished with advice by the OECD Guidelines Working Group. This group holds regular meetings with representatives of trade unions, industry associations and NGOs for discussions of fundamental issues relating to the OECD Guidelines and how to raise awareness of these and to promote compliance.

The current addresses and contact details of the NCPs can be found here.

The Annual Reports by the NCPs can be found here (in German). Please click here (in German) to read the reports by the Federal Government.

Every individual or organisation can submit a complaint against an alleged violation of the OECD Guidelines by a company to the relevant NCP. The NCP of the country in which the alleged violation took place is responsible for handling the complaint. If there is no NCP in this country, complaints should be submitted to the NCP in the country in which the company is headquartered.

Once a case has been received for consideration, a decision is taken following a careful evaluation drawing on detailed comments from the parties to the procedure as to whether the case justifies more in-depth examination. This is done in close cooperation between the NCP and the relevant ministries and the Interministerial Steering Group for the OECD Guidelines. For the case to be accepted for consideration, both parties must be capable of being a party to the proceedings, the NCP must be geographically responsible, and the complaint must fall within the scope of application of the Guidelines. If a case is inadmissible, both parties are informed of the reasons, and a summary of the grounds for the decision is published.

If the case is admissible, a mediation procedure takes place with a view to a constructive and joint solution. In this phase, the NCP provides a neutral discussion forum; with the aid of confidential separate and joint hearings and consultations, the aim is to work with the parties to find a solution. The procedure is based on comments from the complainant and the respondent, and if necessary on information from relevant agencies, experts, business representatives, NGOs and other NCPs. Furthermore, the Investment Committee can be asked to resolve questions of interpretation.

If an agreement is reached, the NCP publishes a final report outlining the course and resolution of the procedure. Even if no agreement can be reached via the mediation, the NCP publishes a final statement outlining the procedure and assessing the alleged violation of the Guidelines. Since the Guidelines are of a voluntary nature, this is not a judicial procedure; it is not possible to enforce compliance with the Guidelines or with the components of the final report in court.

The duration of the procedure depends on the special features of the case and is co-determined by a large number of players and factors beyond the NCP's sphere of influence. However, the NCP endeavours to undertake the initial assessment of the admissibility of the complaint and the applicability of the Guidelines within three months. Within the next six months, there should be clarity about the prospects for success of any mediation, and hopefully an agreement. Finally, the aim is for the NCP to publish a final statement within three months. The aim is to conclude the entire process within about a year. However, the special features of a case, and factors beyond the NCP's control, can mean that some cases last longer.

Contact in the Economic Affairs Ministry

Complaints must be submitted by email to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, at buero-nks@bmwi.bund.de, and if possible be submitted in parallel by post to the

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
National contact point in Germany for the OECD guidelines (NCP)
Scharnhorststr. 34-37
10115 Berlin

Tel.: +49 30 18 615 - 7651
E-Mail: buero-nks@bmwi.bund.de

Further information on the nature and course of this procedure can be found in the handbook on the complaints procedure (PDF, 106 KB).

The wording of the principles governing the procedure in the OECD Guidelines can be found here (PDF: 81 KB).

Further information