OECD Legal Instruments


Since the creation of the OECD in 1961, more than 500 substantive legal instruments have been developed within its framework. These include OECD Acts (i.e. the Decisions and Recommendations adopted by the OECD Council in accordance with the OECD Convention) and other legal instruments developed within the OECD framework (e.g. Declarations, international agreements).

All substantive OECD legal instruments, whether in force or abrogated, are listed in the online Compendium of OECD Legal Instruments. They are presented in five categories:

- Decisions are adopted by Council and are legally binding on all Members except those which abstain at the time of adoption. They set out specific rights and obligations and may contain monitoring mechanisms.

- Recommendations are adopted by Council and are not legally binding. They represent a political commitment to the principles they contain and entail an expectation that Adherents will do their best to implement them.

Substantive Outcome Documents are adopted by the individual listed Adherents rather than by an OECD body, as the outcome of a ministerial, high-level or other meeting within the framework of the Organisation. They usually set general principles or long-term goals and have a solemn character. Ministerial Council Statements adopted during meetings of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level (MCM) are available on the OECD MCM webpage.

International Agreements are negotiated and concluded within the framework of the Organisation. They are legally binding on the Parties.

Arrangements, Understandings and Others: several other types of substantive legal instruments have been developed within the OECD framework over time, such as the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits, the International Understanding on Maritime Transport Principles and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendations.


Watch the OECD/French Society for International Law (SFDI)/American Society of International Law (ASIL) Joint Event on the 60th Anniversary of the OECD, 2 November 2021

A Half Day of Reflection on
"The OECD Method": a Model in the New Global Context?

                                                Download the transcript of the conference (PDF)


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