The Seventh Informal Consultation between the OECD Trade Committee and Civil Society Organisations took place on 24 October 2005, back to back with the 142nd Session of the Trade Committee.
See Summary record.
Please see below the agenda, also available in pdf format).
Morning session: 10h00 - 13h00
The DDA and preparations for the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial
1. This discussion will provide an opportunity for an exchange of views between CSOs and the Trade Committee on recent developments in the DDA and priorities and expectations for the upcoming WTO Ministerial in December 2005 in Hong Kong. CSOs have expressed a particular interest in discussing agriculture and TRIPS, among other issues.
Afternoon session: 15h00 - 18h00
Corporate social responsibility and trade policy
2. The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) suggests that corporations have a broader set of responsibilities towards society than simply economic ones. According to ideas encompassed in CSR, corporations should also foster social welfare of the societies in which they operate, thus taking into account constituencies other than shareholders, along with the wider social and environmental consequences of their activities.
3. While there is not a full consensus on the overall agenda for CSR or on which practices are unacceptable, an increasing number of businesses are embracing the concept of CSR and are responding to issues raised by their constituents. More and more businesses involved in international trade are making an effort to uphold minimum standards on human rights and environmental protection, based on existing guidelines and conventions elaborated by organisations such as the ILO and OECD. The revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, adhered to by 39 governments which represent 85 per cent of international investment flows, is one such example. The Guidelines are the only comprehensive government-backed instrument in the field of corporate social responsibility. They provide voluntary recommendations for international business on ethical behaviour in such areas as human rights, responsible supply chain management, labour relations, environment, consumer protection and the fight against corruption.
4. Increasingly, CSR is being expanded to target activities throughout the supply chain. Corporations have begun to accept the added responsibility of ensuring that their national and international suppliers pay attention to employment and working conditions and environmental protection, among other issues, with leading companies setting standards of practice in their sector.
5. The following questions may be considered to stimulate discussion of this issue:
To what extent do corporations inform their clients, customers, business partners and the public about their CSR policies and practices? What information channels are used?
How effective are markets in signalling demands and pressures guiding companies’ CSR practices and in achieving a commitment to CSR? What is the evidence, e.g. from consumer campaigns and socially responsible investment funds?
What evidence is there of tangible benefits resulting from CSR activities?
What are the links between CSR and the formulation and implementation of trade policy? What are the respective roles of governments, corporations and international organisations in this regard?
How is the CSR movement changing trade relations among countries? What effect does it have on what we see on the shelves of our supermarkets?
Do multinationals from China, India and other non-OECD countries approach CSR differently than their counterparts in OECD countries.
Submissions by Civil Society Organisations: