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Corporate social responsibility – the OECD Guidelines and Norway’s position

On October 14th and 15th, the OECD Investment Committee will hold meetings where questions relating to the interpretation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises will be discussed.

 

Following the conclusion of the independent National Contact Point in May 2013 that Norges Bank Investment  Management (NBIM) had breached the Guidelines, the notion seem to have spread that Norway has requested an exemption from the rules now that it is affected by them. This is not true. State Secretary Torgeir Larsen has explained Norway’s position in his reply to a letter from the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM). The main points, which also form the basis for Norway’s statement to the OECD Investment Committee and its working groups, are as follows:   

  • Norway is at the forefront of efforts in the international arena for ensure that human rights are safeguarded in the best possible way. This also applies to the efforts to promote corporate social responsibility in the UN and the OECD.
  • Norway complies with its international obligations, including in the area of human rights. We have therefore established an independent National Contact Point to ensure compliance with the OECD Guidelines in the best possible way, and are one of very few OECD countries to have done so. 
  • The complaint against NBIM and the fact that the Norwegian authorities’ have contacted the OECD Investment Committee in connection with this case do not alter the picture. We fully and completely endorse the OECD Guidelines. . The OECD Guidelines form the basis for the expectations that are set for the companies that the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global invests in.
  • At the same time, this particular case has shown that certain points regarding the interpretation of the rules remain unclear. We have therefore asked the OECD Investment Committee to look more closely at these.
  • The Guidelines apply to all sectors, and we are not claiming that the finance sector has an explicit exemption. However we have noted that the interpretation of the Guidelines is not always clear. We have therefore asked the OECD to clarify these questions, in line with the procedures set out in the Guidelines.
  • Clarity in questions relating to the application of the Guidelines is important for promoting corporate social responsibility. It is also in the interests of civil society, and will give investors in general more insight into how to comply with the rules. 
  • There is agreement in the OECD on the importance of clarifying the Guidelines, and a working group has been established to look more closely at the various questions of interpretation.

At the meetings of the OECD Investment Committee on 14 and 15 October, Norway will continue its efforts to promote human rights and corporate social responsibility.

 

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