Federal Council moves to update OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Bern, 22.06.2022 - On 22 June, the Federal Council agreed a negotiating mandate on updating the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In particular, Switzerland will work to ensure these recommendations for responsible business conduct are adapted in regard to digitalisation and environmental protection.

Ten years after the last major revision of the OECD Guidelines in 2011, the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct concluded on the basis of a broad public consultation that the Guidelines were in need of updating in a number of specific areas. The aim is to ensure alignment and coherence with other instruments adopted since the last revision (e.g. UN 2030 Agenda, OECD Due Diligence Guidance).

Switzerland is in favour of updating the OECD 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. Regarding anti-corruption, the inclusion of other abusive practices apart from bribery (e.g. in areas such as lobbying or corporate sponsorships) will also be examined.

To ensure uniform implementation by the National Contact Points, 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 National Contact Points are to be regulated in more detail.

Negotiations will start this summer and are expected to be completed within a year.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a set of non-binding recommendations on responsible business conduct drawn up by the 38 OECD members plus 12 non-member countries. Governments adhering to the Guidelines are required to set up a National Contact Point, whose main role is to inform businesses about the Guidelines and act as a mediation and conciliation platform in the event of conflicts.

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