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.
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:
- Embedding responsible business conduct into policies and management systems
- Identifying and assessing actual and potential adverse impacts associated with the enterprise’s operations, products or services
- Ceasing, preventing and mitigating adverse impacts
- Tracking implementation and results
- Communicating how impacts are addressed
- 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:
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (PDF, 2 MB)
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector (PDF, 2 MB)
- OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains (PDF, 2 MB)
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector (PDF, 2 MB)
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.