Swiss OECD Contact Point reorganisation
On 1 May 2013 the Swiss Federal Council passed an ordinance to provide a new organisational foundation for the work of the Swiss Contact Point for multinational enterprises. The aim is to increase its performance when dealing with complaints about violations against OECD guiding principles. At the same time, the Federal Council has convened a Federal Commission for the Counselling of the Contact Point. This Commission is staffed by representatives of the federal administration, employers’ and trade associations, as well as of trade unions, NGOs and academics. The commission will be chaired jointly by Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary and director of the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), and Professor Christine Kaufmann, Chair for Constitutional and Administrative Law and for European and International Law and Head of the Competence Center for Human Rights at the University of Zürich.
Upgrading as an answer to criticism
By creating this Commission, the Federal Council reacted both to the review of the OECD guidelines in 2011 and to criticism regarding the limited efficiency of the National Contact Point, which was voiced by various Swiss NGOs. It remains to be seen whether or not the upgrading of the OECD Contact Point will result in greater efficiency in its operations. Basically, its purpose is to take action in case of violations against OECD guiding principles by multinational enterprises based in Switzerland. This action includes consultation and conciliation procedures in order to clarify facts and to help with practical corrective actions.
Scepticism and refusal by NGOs
Alliance Sud is not happy with this reform. Although the advisory panel is seen as a step in the right direction, the lacking competences of the new committee are criticised. All the same, the NGO is willing to cooperate in the forum. Should the new panel turn out to be a mock effort, then Alliance Sud will end its cooperation with the Contact Point.
In an extensive statement, the Berne Declaration justified why it regards the advisory panel primarily as a fig leaf and therefore refuses to join the Contact Point.
- OECD guiding principles for multinational enterprises: reorganisation of the National Contact Point and institution of a counselling commission
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) media release, 1 May 2013 (in German)
- Leitsätze für Multis: Bundesrat schafft zahmen Beirat
Media release by Alliance Sud (in German), 2 May 2013
- Position der Erklärung von Bern zu OECD-Guidelines und Beirat
Media release by the Berne Declaration (in German)