In addition to containing standards for responsible business conduct in a variety of areas, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines) establish a complaint process. Under this complaint process, known as the “specific instance” process, any interested party may submit a complaint to the relevant National Contact Point (NCP) established to further the effectiveness of the OECD Guidelines. Each OECD member country (and other countries that adhere to the OECD Guidelines) has a NCP that oversees the complaint process. The scope of the complaint process is broad: a complaint may raise any issue relating to implementation of the OECD Guidelines.
The specific instance complaint process is voluntary and aims to foster a dialogue between the parties, including through the use of mediation. Although the specific instance process is not legally binding, many NCPs have the ability to “name and shame” multinational enterprises (MNEs) who refuse to participate in the process or whose conduct is deemed inconsistent with the OECD Guidelines. Some NCPs even have the power to sanction MNEs, such as by barring MNEs from accessing commercial advocacy or export financing from government authorities. A bad result from the “specific instance” process thus could lead not only to reputational harm, but also to restrictions on a MNE’s ability to operate abroad most optimally.
Arent Fox is uniquely qualified to guide participants efficiently and effectively through the “specific instance” complaint process under the OECD Guidelines. Our CSR team includes a former government lawyer who advised the work of the U.S. NCP for many years and has been involved in the resolution of numerous “specific instance” complaints, both while in government and in private practice.