2010 Update of the OECD Guidelines
Remarks by Richard Boucher, OECD Deputy Secretary-General, at the Ministerial Session of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010
United Nations Headquarters
23 June 2010 - New York
Ministerial Session: "How can Governments promote business efforts to ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and society everywhere?"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the OECD Secretary-General, I am delighted to join in this 10th anniversary celebration of the UN Global Compact and to participate in this first Ministerial Meeting to discuss the responsibilities of governments in promoting corporate responsibility.
Sustainability and corporate responsibility
Let me begin by recalling that the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus recognised that the best way to lift people from poverty and underdevelopment is to promote a healthy and vibrant private sector. The strong economic performance of the major emerging economies and so many other developing countries prove the point.
Private sector development needs a sound enabling environment to work its magic. But corporate responsibility matters too and governments can lead the way, which is why we are here today.
What can governments do to enhance corporate responsibility?
First, they can be firm about companies’ obligations to obey the law, and encourage them to observe internationally recognised human rights and labour standards and to exercise due diligence in their operations and business relations. Companies should respect the rights of others and mitigating any harm caused.
Second, governments can encourage or partner with enterprises in meeting basic human needs such as water, electricity, roads, schools so long as they – governments -- do not relinquish their basic responsibilities to provide these essential services.
Third, as we are discussing today, governments can co-operate with each other across the world and with other stakeholders to press the case that corporate responsibility is essential to sustainable economic development and hence in the interests of all.
Role of the OECD
OECD is active in many dimensions of sustainable development, promoting a healthy enabling business environment sensitive to environmental concerns and the special needs of developing countries.
Partnering the UN Global Compact
UN Global Compact and OECD intensify collaboration, 27 October 2009
Finally, let me stress that, with our Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, we are true partners with the UN Global Compact. Indeed, the two instruments are complementary:
The planned adoption at this Ministerial meeting of a governmental declaration by UN members is a welcome reinforcement of this complementarity.
We also welcome the recent UN announcement encouraging the Global Compact’s Local Network of Focal Points to make use of the OECD mediation procedures. For their part, OECD National Contact Points have agreed to encourage multinational enterprises to engage with the UN Global Compact.
Next week in Paris, on the occasion of the National Contact Points Annual Meeting, we will begin the process of revising the text of the OECD Guidelines and strengthening the implementation procedures. We have high hopes for this open process which will seek input from many sources, including all stakeholders and governments not yet adhering to the Guidelines. We look forward to the active involvement of our friends from the UN Global Compact.