Article - International Cooperation

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

Introduction

Logo of the NCP Source : NCP

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The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most important comprehensive international instrument for the promotion of responsible business conduct (RBC). The National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (NCP) promotes the effective implementation of the Guidelines and also provides a mediation procedure in cases where a complaint related to the application of the Guidelines is launched.

Current news and dates

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2019

Please read the current Bundestag report (PDF, 425 KB) to learn about what was important for the NCP in 2019

The complaints procedure between three non-governmental organisations and Adidas is completed

After two years, the German National Contact Point for the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises was able to complete the mediation process between the Südwind Institut, the Sedane Labour Resource Centre, the Clean Clothes Campaign and Adidas.
The final declaration is publicly available here (PDF, 494 KB).

The Coronavirus pandemic and responsible business conduct

The coronavirus pandemic had severe implications for both people and business. Responsible business conduct in response to the crisis can lead to short and long-term benefits, such as increased resilience and a stronger contribution of companies to sustainable development. The OECD published a document on COVID-19 and responsible business conduct (brief overview in English) and provides further information on its website.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF, 1,021 KB) set out the participating countries’ recommendations on responsible business conduct for multinational companies that operate in a global context. The Guidelines contain established principles of responsible business conduct in the areas of information policy, human rights, employment policy, environmental protection, anti-corruption, consumer interests, science and technology, competition and taxation. The Guidelines, which form part of the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises, are not legally binding, but reflect the Federal Government’s expectations towards the business conduct of German enterprises that operate globally.

According to the OECD Guidelines, multinational enterprises should undertake risk-based due diligence and maintain appropriate internal procedures to prevent their own activities causing or contributing to adverse impacts on matters covered by the Guidelines and address such impacts when they occur. Further to their own activities, they should also seek to prevent or mitigate an adverse impact where they have not contributed to that impact, when the impact is nevertheless directly linked to their operations, products or services by a business relationship. This means that a multinational enterprise’s due diligence also extends to its supply chain.

OECD Guidelines

The OECD Guidelines are supplemented by the more general OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (PDF, 2 MB) and sector-specific guidelines that focus on raw materials, textiles, agriculture and finance. The more general OECD Guidance provides practical support to enterprises on the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It is based on the principle of risk-based due diligence – which consists of the following actions:

  1. Embedding responsible business conduct into policies and management systems
  2. Identifying and assessing actual and potential adverse impacts associated with the enterprise’s operations, products or services
  3. Ceasing, preventing and mitigating adverse impacts
  4. Tracking implementation and results
  5. Communicating how impacts are addressed
  6. Providing for or cooperating in remediation when appropriate

The participating countries have adopted specific recommendations on the practical implementation of due diligence in the raw materials, textile and agriculture sectors, focusing on the inherent risks and challenges of these sectors. The recommendations for the agricultural industry were drawn up in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

In addition, the OECD has set out key considerations for the fulfilment of due diligence obligations as part of the project on the financial sector (Responsible Business Conduct for Institutional Investors) (PDF, 2 MB).

The organisation also set out practical guidelines on child labour Practical actions for companies to identify and address the worst forms of child labour in mineral supply chains.

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, 139 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, 139 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.

The National Contact Points help find solutions to specific issues that arise in specific cases of the applying the OECD Guidelines. They conduct their work impartially, predictably, fairly and in accordance with the OECD Guidelines.

Complaints procedures before the NCP

The NCP has established a complaints procedure that is used to foster agreement on contentious issues in a dialogue-based and consensual manner. Complaints can be launched by natural and legal persons, trade unions and NGOs which can show that they have a legitimate interest in a matter (form: Complaint to the German National Contact Point About an Alleged Violation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF, 107 KB)).

The multinational company against which the complaint is launched is then given the opportunity to comment. The NCP carries out an initial evaluation to determine which complaints it accepts for in-depth examination. In cases where the NCP accepts the complaint, it offers moderation and mediation procedures to support the parties involved. Under this procedure, the NCP conducts talks with the parties involved, with the aim of reaching a solution that is acceptable to both sides. If agreement is reached, the NCP draws up a report that concludes the procedure. If no agreement is reached, it publishes a final statement which may include recommendations for implementing the OECD Guidelines.

The details of the complaints procedure are laid down in the Procedural Guidelines of the German National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Complaints database

OECD Guidelines and Guidance

Procedural Guidelines and Rules of Procedure

Procedural Guidelines (PDF, 415 KB) of the German National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Rules of Procedure of the Interministerial Committee on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF, 60 KB)

Rules of Procedure of the Working Group on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (PDF, 139 KB)

Reports to the Bundestag

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2019 (PDF, 425 KB)

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2018 (PDF, 364 KB)

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2017 (PDF, 722 KB)

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2016 (PDF, 38 KB)

Report by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag concerning the work undertaken by the National Contact Point in 2015 (PDF, 37 KB)

Reports to the OECD

National Contact Point Reporting Questionnaire 2018 (PDF, 536 KB)
National Contact Point Reporting Questionnaire 2017 (PDF, 538 KB)
National Contact Point Reporting Questionnaire 2016 (PDF, 504 KB)

Forms

Other documents for download

Further information