OECD Legal Instruments

 

The Organisation's governing body, the Council, has the power to adopt Decisions and Recommendations, usually referred to as "the OECD Acts". These Acts are the result of the substantive work carried out in the Organisation's Committees. They are based on in-depth analysis and reporting undertaken within the Secretariat and cover a wide range of topics from Anti-Corruption to Environment.

The end products include international norms and standards, best practices and policy guidelines. Some of them, such as the Codes of Liberalisation, date back to the beginning of the Organisation.

  • Decisions are legally binding on all those Member countries which do not abstain at the time they are adopted. While they are not international treaties, they do entail the same kind of legal obligations as those subscribed to under international treaties. Members are obliged to implement Decisions and they must take the measures necessary for such implementation.

  • Recommendations are not legally binding, but practice accords them great moral force as representing the political will of Member countries and there is an expectation that Member countries will do their utmost to fully implement a Recommendation. Thus, Member countries which do not intend to implement a Recommendation usually abstain when it is adopted.

Other legal instruments are also developed within the framework of the Organisation:

  • Declarations: solemn texts setting out relatively precise policy commitments are subscribed to by the governments of Member countries. They are not formal Acts of the Organisation and are not intended to be legally binding, but they are noted by the OECD Council and their application is generally monitored by the responsible OECD body.

  • Arrangements and Understandings: instruments, negotiated and adopted in the framework of the Organisation by some Member countries. They are not Acts of the Organisation and are not legally binding, but they are noted by the OECD Council and their implementation is monitored.

  • International Agreements: concluded in the framework of the Organisation, they are legally binding on the Parties.

All OECD Decisions, Recommendations and other instruments in force are available in our Database.