18 November 2020

The OECD mediation procedure as an alternative to expensive liability lawsuits

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Switzerland provides a mediation procedure to enforce the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In the discussion about the rejected Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), it was forgotten that there is already a state alternative to expensive liability suits for victims abroad in Switzerland. Environmental or human rights organizations or individuals can lodge a complaint (submission) against Swiss corporations with the “National Contact Point Switzerland” at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) if the Swiss company violates the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The OECD Guidelines contain a comprehensive list of topics that describe corporate social responsibility (CSR and ESG) and apply wherever multinational companies conduct their business activities.

The ""National Contact Point of Switzerland” (NCP)"" at SECO conducts a conciliation procedure based on the submission. Since 2020, the Swiss NCP has conducted 25 procedures, most of which have resulted in solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved - corporations and NGOs (NZZ of 5.11.2020, p. 13).

The most prominent examples are complaints against FIFA (working conditions in the construction of the stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar) or Credit Suisse (protection of the sacred sites and the drinking water supply for the indigenous population of an Indian reservation in the USA and the construction of a pipeline).

In the following, the most important differences are presented in tabular form. Please click here. (PDF, 120 Kb)