Strengthening the Enforcement of CSR through Mediation and Conflict Resolution by National Contact Points: Finding a New Balance between Hard Law and Soft Law

29 Pages Posted: 26 May 2013 Last revised: 24 Oct 2013

See all articles by Karsten Engsig Sørensen

Karsten Engsig Sørensen

Aarhus University – Aarhus BSS, Department of Law

Birgitte Egelund Olsen

Aarhus University – Department of Law, School of Business and Social Sciences

Date Written: May 24, 2013

Abstract

Since 2000, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines) have required OECD Members to establish national contact points (NCPs) to promote the effective implementation of the Guidelines. The aim of this article is to examine the role of the NCPs in implementing the Guidelines, including how the influence of the NCPs may change the nature of the Guidelines from being purely voluntary to become more in the nature of binding requirements. The examination focuses on the NCPs in Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom. It is concluded that the way in which the NCPs operate, including the extensive right to refer complaints to them, the broad scope of the recommendations in the Guidelines and especially the use of naming and shaming in cases of breaches of the Guidelines, has changed the original character of the Guidelines as a purely soft law instrument. Furthermore, it is shown that the use of very broad and vague terminology in the Guidelines makes it very difficult for enterprises to comply with them. This is further complicated by the fact that many of the terms, which lay down when the NCPs have jurisdiction, are not clearly defined or explained. The three NCPs examined have implemented the Guidelines very differently. In particular the Danish NCP stands out. It has a jurisdiction which in many respects goes far beyond that envisioned in the Guidelines. This may put in question the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Danish NCP, but at the same time it can also be viewed as an interesting innovation which may provide useful lessons for other NCPs and their approaches to implementing the Guidelines.

Keywords: CSR, OECD guidelines, national contact points (NCP)

JEL Classification: K22

Suggested Citation

Sørensen, Karsten Engsig and Egelund Olsen, Birgitte, Strengthening the Enforcement of CSR through Mediation and Conflict Resolution by National Contact Points: Finding a New Balance between Hard Law and Soft Law (May 24, 2013). Nordic & European Company Law Working Paper No. 10-38, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2269555 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2269555

Karsten Engsig Sørensen (Contact Author)

Aarhus University – Aarhus BSS, Department of Law ( email )

Bartholins Allé 16, Building 1410, Room 246
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

Birgitte Egelund Olsen

Aarhus University – Department of Law, School of Business and Social Sciences ( email )

Bartholins Allé 16
Aarhus C, 8000
Denmark

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