Responsible business conduct sets out an expectation that all businesses – regardless of their legal status, size, ownership or sector – avoid and address negative impacts of their operations, while contributing to sustainable development in the countries where they operate. In order to ensure a coherent and comprehensive approach to responsible business conduct, the governments of 38 Member States of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the governments of 13 non-OECD members have adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (the Guidelines).
Useful link: Explanation of the Guidelines: OECD Brochure “The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – Responsible Business Conduct Matters”
The Guidelines are a comprehensive set of recommendations jointly addressed by governments to multinational enterprises (MNE(s)). They aim to encourage positive contributions MNEs can make to economic, environmental and social progress, and to minimise adverse impacts on matters covered by the Guidelines that may be associated with an enterprise’s operations, products and services. The Guidelines cover all key areas of business responsibility, including human rights, labour rights, environment, bribery and corruption, consumer interests, disclosure, science and technology, competition, and taxation.
The Guidelines provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct consistent with applicable laws and internationally recognised standards. The Guidelines are not intended to override local law or expose MNEs to conflicting expectations. MNE compliance with the laws of the country in which they operate is a fundamental principle of the Guidelines. The Guidelines outline recommendations on responsible business conduct that may go beyond what enterprises are legally required to comply with. The recommendation from governments that enterprises observe the Guidelines is distinct from matters of legal liability and enforcement.
Since their introduction in 1976, the Guidelines have been continuously updated to remain fit for purpose in light of societal challenges and the evolving context for international business. The 2023 update of the Guidelines reflects a decade of experience since their last review in 2011 and responds to urgent social, environmental, and technological priorities facing societies and businesses. The 2023 edition provides updated recommendations for responsible business conduct across key areas, such as climate change, biodiversity, technology, business integrity and supply chain due diligence, as well as updated implementation procedures for the National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct.
Latvian National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct (LVNCP)
The Guidelines are supported by a unique mechanism for their implementation – National Contact points (NCP) – agencies established by governments adhering to the Guidelines.
NCP is a dispute resolution and mediation resource within the framework of which disputes between communities or individuals and MNEs can be dealt with in cases when a party raises allegations of non-observance of the Guidelines` recommendations against MNE’s operations. In the event of a non-observance of the Guidelines, the main contribution of the NCP is to provide the submitter and the MNE a platform for discussion and voluntary mediation.
The role of NCPs is twofold:
- to promote awareness and encourage implementation of the OECD Guidelines with business, labor, NGOs and other members of civil society and the general public;
- to offer a “Specific Instance” mediation process to be used when a party raises allegations of inconsistence of the Guidelines` recommendations against MNE’s operations, focusing on finding a resolution between the parties through a voluntary mediated dialogue, namely by implementing the ‘Specific Instance process’ described in the Implementation Procedures of the OECD Guidelines.
The Latvian NCP is a collegial structure that includes representatives from:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretariat of the LVNCP);
- Ministry of Economics;
- Ministry of Finance;
- Ministry of Justice;
- Ministry of Welfare;
- State Chancellery;
- Latvian Council of Science;
- State Labour Inspectorate;
- Employers' Confederation of Latvia (LDDK);
- Free Trade Union of Latvia (LBAS);
- Institute for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (InCSR).
To get an impression of what NCPs do, please have a look at the video "Meet the National Contact Points" on the OECD website.