OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

The OECD Guidelines are the oldest comprehensive code of conduct (1976) that provides businesses with a framework for responsible business conduct (corporate social responsibility). They consist of recommendations from the governments of the 38 OECD members and other states (Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Tunisia and Ukraine) to companies operating from their sovereign territory.  The Guidelines are applicable to multinationals from the signatory states wherever they are operating. They cover all key areas of business responsibility, including human rights, labour rights, environment, bribery, consumer interests, as well as information disclosure, science and technology, competition, and taxation.

The Guidelines are an important tool in shaping globalisation. Their stated aim was to guarantee the harmonisation of multinationals' activities with public policies, strengthen the basis of trust between companies and their host country, improve the climate for foreign investments and boost the contribution of multinational enterprises to sustainable development. The recommendations are not of a binding nature for companies. Signatory states, however, have to set up a National Contact Point. It promotes the implementation of the Guidelines and may offer an informal arbitration proceeding in case of alleged non-compliance with the Guidelines.

The Guidelines are an integral part of the OECD Declaration on International Investments and Multinational Enterprises. They are a package of measures designed to promote direct investments between OECD states. The OECD Investment Committee monitors the Guidelines and organises a regular exchange of views.

Update of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Ten years after the last major revision of the Guidelines in 2011, they will be updated in a number of specific areas. The aim is to ensure alignment with other instruments adopted since the last revision (e.g. UN 2030 Agenda, OECD Due Diligence Guidance). Switzerland is in favour of updating the Guidelines to take account of key developments, particularly in relation to the environment, human rights and working conditions. In addition, provisions on the responsible use of digital technologies are to be added.

To ensure uniform implementation by the National Contact Points (NCP), additional guidance is to be provided on these offices’ accessibility, transparency and accountability. In addition, certain rules of procedure for the handling of submissions by the NCP are to be regulated in more detail. Negotiations have started in the summer of 2022 and are expected to be completed within a year.

The OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct is currently inviting interested stakeholders (e.g. businesses, civil society organisations, trade unions, as well as academia, international organisations) to comment on a consultation draft of potential updates. The public consultation is open until 10 February 2023.

Last modification 16.01.2023

Top of page


State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO
International Investment & Multinational Enterprises
Holzikofenweg 36
3003 Bern


Print contact