Week of 15 June 2020
In 2019, OECD National Contact Points decided a number of cases, including related to company responsibility for climate targets, bank responsibility for ensuring clients respect indigenous peoples’ rights, online platform responsibility for harmful content and responsibility for remediation to harmed communities; a number of structural barriers to NCPs’ effectiveness remain (OECD Watch)
OECD Watch has released its briefing paper: “The State of Remedy under the OECD Guidelines: Understanding NCP cases concluded in 2019 through the lens of remedy.” OECD Watch delves into the complaints that have been concluded by OECD National Contact Points (NCPs). The report finds that, of 28 complaints concluded in 2019, six complaints resulted in some form of remedy, with some breaking new ground:
- Two cases made clear that the OECD Guidelines do cover the impact of climate change and the responsibility to companies – including in the financial sector – to work to Paris Agreement targets. “Through support of the Dutch NCP, a group of Dutch NGOs achieved commitment by ING bank to better report its indirect impacts on climate change and set concrete goals for its own climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement. In a similar case, the Polish NCP helped Polish NGOs encourage improved climate-related non-financial reporting from a Polish state-owned financial institution Group PZU S.A.”
- Agreement was reached in a case against a bank involving respect for indigenous rights, including the right to free prior and informed consent (FPIC). “The Swiss NCP helped a Swiss NGO reach agreement with Credit Suisse to respect indigenous rights, including to free prior and informed consent (FPIC), in its project finance operations.”
- The first-ever agreement in a case involving the responsibility of online platforms and the digital economy. A “Polish case addressed the new subject of the due diligence expectations of internet-based companies: the NCP helped a Polish NGO secure agreement with an internet marketplace Grupa OLX sp. z.o.o. to screen out environmentally harmful advertisements from its digital sales platform.”
- A case against a multi-stakeholder initiative, the Roundtable for Responsible Palm Oil, was accepted and reached agreement. “[T]he Swiss NCP accepted jurisdiction over the Roundtable for Responsible Palm Oil (RPSO) to help Indonesian groups involved in a six-year-and-floundering RSPO case agree on an action plan for the RSPO’s next steps.” This case related to land grabbing complaints against Sime Darby by residents in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
- A case involving an oil company in Nigeria led to remediation of adverse impacts and concrete improvements on the ground. “The Italian NCP facilitated and important agreement and commitment by Italian oil and gas company Eni to address decades of flooding its subsidiary had caused in Nigeria. After the complaint, Eni began remediation preparation before its operations were stalled by the COVID-19 crisis.”
The report also finds that complainants report issues of inaccessibility, lack of impartiality and lack of equitability in using the NCP system. Further, in 2019, the case rejection rate significantly surpassed the average, with 36% of NGO/community complaints rejected (without the NCP offering good offices to resolve the dispute).
OECD Watch concludes that “NCPs’ handling of cases concluded in 2019 both supported and hindered access to remedy for complainants” and calls on governments to address the structural barriers to NCPs’ effectiveness, which include a lack of resources, lack of political support and policy incoherence.