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OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises : Policy Briefing

The OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises were first adopted in the 1970s as a result of concern over the behaviour and economic dominance of MNCs, particularly in developing countries. During the 1980s, interest waned, but then in the 1990s attention was once again focused on the challenges of controlling the behaviour of multinational companies. A review of the guidelines was conducted in 1998 and in June 2000, the 30 OECD member governments, plus Argentina, Brazil and Chile adopted the new Guidelines, together with enhanced implementation procedures.

The Guidelines provide a set of recommendations on good corporate behaviour that are endorsed and enforced by governments. They cover a wide rnage of issues including:

- employment and industrial relations
- environment
- combating bribery
- consumer interests
- competition
- taxation

Whilst the codes are voluntary they are not optional - all OECD multinational enterprises are bound by the codes of conduct and are required to comply with all the recommendations.


Governments adhering to the Guidelines must set up National Contact Points within the national government administration. For example the National Contact Point for the UK is located in the Department of Trade and Industry. In other cases however, the NCP may involve several ministries or be tripartite involving government, labour and business. However, in all cases governments are ultimately responsible.

Cases can be brought by trade unions or other elements of civil society to the relevant National Contact Point for alleged breaches of the codes of conduct


Multinational companies of 35 countries are bound to abide by the recommendations of the Guidelines. If they are considered to be in breach of the Guidelines then a case may be brought against them using the administrative procedures of the National Contact Points.


The TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD) has been involved in the Guidelines from the beginning and most recently has been involved in negotiating the latest review of the guidelines and in promoting the up-take of cases against companies which have breached any of the Guidelines.

TUAC has published a User's Guide to help trade unionists - and NGOs - implement the Guidelines.

To receive the printed version of the Guide, contact the TUAC Secretariat.

26, avenue de la Grande-Arm�e
75017 Paris
Telephone 01 55 37 37 37
Telefax 01 47 54 98 28

The following lists all references contained in our database that are relevant to this briefing
Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD [1/1/2002] 'A Users� Guide for Trade Unionists to the OECD Guidelines to Multinational Enterprises Guidelines to Multinational E n t e r p r i s e s' by TUAC: [Source ID = 7276]

United Nations [12/19/2001] 'Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo' by Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo: [Source ID = 7437]

Cornerhouse Web Site [] 'International Regulation of TNCs: A Short History' by Cornerhouse: [Source ID = 7444]

Inter Press Service [12/12/2002] 'DEVELOPMENT: ETHICAL GUIDELINES PROPOSED FOR MULTINATIONALS' by Emad Mekay: [Source ID = 7556]

SUNDAY TELEGRAPH(LONDON) [10/27/2002] 'UN sparks row over Congolese diamonds British companies are furious at a report that paints them as plunderers of a poor African country' by Edward Simpkins: [Source ID = 7567]

Financial Times (London) [10/22/2002] 'Plundering of Congo goes on, says UN panel LOOTING CLAIM RESOURCES WORTH 'BILLIONS OF DOLLARS' TAKEN' by WILLIAM WALLIS: [Source ID = 7569]

The Independent (London) [10/22/2002] 'UN EXPOSES CONTINUING PLUNDER OF CONGO' : [Source ID = 7570]

The Toronto Star [11/2/2003] 'Congo corruption charges dropped' by John Goddard: [Source ID = 8647]


Amnesty International [] 'Solidarity action for universal rights: Making multinational companies accountable Protecting human rights in a �globalised' economy' by Amnesty International:$File/ACT7000199.pdf [Source ID = 8838]

OECD [4/12/2004] 'Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Public Statement by CIME' :,2340,en_2649_34889_27217798_1_1_1_1,00.html [Source ID = 8866]

OECD [6/25/2003] 'Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility:Enhancing the Role of Business in the Fight against Corruption � Making the most of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises SUMMARY OF THE ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION' by OECD: [Source ID = 8869]

Greenleaf Publishing [] 'Accountability is responsibility' : [Source ID = 8898]


UNICORN is a Global Unions Anti-corruption Network. It is supported by the international trade union bodies: the TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD); Public Services International (PSI); and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

UNICORN is financed by the Foundation Open Society Institute