Introduction to the U.S. National Contact Point
Businesses face a range of different expectations for responsible practice from investors, consumers, employees, civil society organizations, the general public, and governments. To provide a coherent and comprehensive approach to responsible business conduct, the 34 member governments of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and 10 non-member governments endorsed the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
In 1976, the OECD established its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“the Guidelines”), a comprehensive set of recommendations by governments to multinational enterprises (MNEs) to voluntarily adopt to minimize and resolve impacts which may arise from their operations in foreign jurisdictions and to encourage positive contributions to economic, social and environmental progress. The Guidelines form one part of a broader OECD investment instrument called the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises, a policy commitment by adhering governments to provide an open and transparent environment for international investment.
The Guidelines cover issues such as human rights, environment, labor, anti-bribery, corporate governance, disclosure, supply chain management, and taxation. The Guidelines have received broad support internationally, and are the only multilaterally agreed and comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promoting. 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 are supported by a unique implementation mechanism of National Contact Points (NCPs), agencies established by adhering governments to promote and implement the Guidelines. The NCPs assist enterprises and their stakeholders to take appropriate measures to further the implementation of the Guidelines. They also provide a mediation and conciliation platform for resolving practical issues that may arise. The U.S. National Contact Point (USNCP) is housed in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.