The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are internationally agreed standards for responsible business conduct, covering human rights, labour relations, environment, consumer interests and other areas. Australia is one of 50 countries which has joined the Guidelines, encouraging multinational enterprises to observe these standards: and establishing a National Contact Point (the ‘AusNCP’ – within the Commonwealth Department of the Treasury). One of the AusNCP’s roles is to receive, and assist the resolution of, complaints about non-compliance with the Guidelines by a multinational enterprise operating in or from Australia. This can comprise mediation between the complainant and the multinational and must include the AusNCP’s public statement on the outcome. Essentially: a conciliation informed by the Guidelines. The AusNCP contracts this conciliation function to an Independent Examiner, for independent and impartial assessment and management of cases. Over the last few years, the AusNCP has handled cases about impacts from mining in Bougainville, port operations in Western Australia, sugar processing in Cambodia, energy infrastructure in South Australia, public relations in Nauru and Australia, financing and climate changes, and others. This article summarises the work and functions of the AusNCP, emphasising its role in resolving disputes about responsible business conduct.
Article published in The Arbitrator and Mediator journal (issue 40(2) pp 45-52), and can be downloaded here.