Content of the OECD Guidelines
The OECD Guidelines are divided into the following chapters:
1. Concepts and Principals
The purpose and basic idea as well as the area of application of the OECD Guidelines are mentioned, and the point is made that the Guidelines present the recommendations of the adhering governments so they are not of a binding nature. Multinationals are first and foremost subject to the laws and specific conditions in their own countries.
2. General Policies
This section summarises companies' basic obligations. These mainly concern their contribution to sustainable development, respect of human rights, the application of good business practices and the promotion of local human resources in order to create an atmosphere of confidence between multinational enterprises and the societies in which they operate.
Companies should encourage their business partners to think seriously about applying the OECD Guidelines.
There is a growing need for information from the public sector on companies' business activities. The scope of transparent business communications is described in this section both in the area of corporate governance and also in connection with socially and environmentally relevant information.
4. Human Rights
The new chapter on human rights is based on the Guiding Principles drawn up by UN Special Representative John Ruggie for the Human Rights Council. These indicate that states have a duty to protect human rights, whereas enterprises are required to respect human rights. The chapter describes the recommended human rights due diligence to be observed by enterprises, which should enable them to identify at an early stage any negative effects of their activities and therefore to prevent or lessen them. The actual form that this recommended due diligence may take depends on the size of the enterprise and on a range of risk factors such as region and sector.
5. Employment and Industrial Relations
The OECD Guidelines are modelled on the basic rights to employment identified by the International Labour Organization (ILO). They describe the areas of employment, skills training, conditions of work, industrial relations and good business practices.
Businesses are recommended to establish a responsible environmental system as this can go a long way towards achieving sustainable development. The majority of recommendations made are the principles and goals of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 and the relevant ISO standard.
7. Combating Bribery
Bribery is one of the greatest hindrances to development. Companies are therefore called on not to use any bribes or other improper advantages in their business practices and to introduce the appropriate management control systems. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is the basis for combating bribery.
8. Consumer Interests
Companies should use fair business, marketing and advertising practices and should ensure, in particular, the safety and quality of the goods or services they provide including both consumer protection and the protection of privacy and personal data.
9. Science and Technology
Provided this is compatible with economic and competitive interests, companies are urged to have host countries be as involved as they can in research and development results, thereby favouring technology transfer. Ties with local universities and public research institutes should be developed and, where possible, co-operative research projects carried out.
Companies should be aware of the importance of competition policy to achieve smooth-running national and international markets. Social welfare and economic growth can only be achieved by having the prices of goods and services set by the market.
Companies make an important contribution to the public finances of host countries by means of taxation. Their attention is particularly drawn to good cooperation with the relevant authorities, who can then correctly determine the taxes to be assessed.