Advancing the Performance of National Contact Points & Access to Remedy for Human Rights Disputes in Central and Eastern Europe
Over the course of three years, OECD Watch, and its secretariat hosted by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), together with the Frank Bold Society, and the Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business, will jointly implement a project that aims to improve access to remedy for victims of irresponsible business conduct in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). This project aims at advancing the performance of National Contact Points (NCPs) in nine CEE countries. NCPs are state-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms established to implement the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines) and to resolve human rights related disputes with companies. Despite the fact that nine CEE countries have set up NCPs, the mechanism has been underutilized. In the past 15 years, only a dozen complaints have been filed with CEE NCPs and very few of these cases have resulted in business and human rights disputes being successfully resolved.
Through funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, this project aims to reserve this trend, by constructively supporting CEE NCPs to serve as a relevant instrument for avoiding and remedying adverse impacts, while promoting responsible business conduct. From now until June 2019, OECD Watch and its members will undertake activities in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to achieve the following results:
Improving NCP Performance Based Learning & Assessment
While the OECD Guidelines contain eight core criteria for effective NCPs, the actual performance of NCPs on these criteria varies considerably between countries. As no standardized tool currently exists for measuring NCP performance and impact based on the criteria, this project aims to create an (self)assessment tool, which will allow NCPs, as well as their stakeholders, to assess their performance against a set of clearly formulated criteria and benchmarks based on the Guideline’s core criteria, along with data available from research that has been carried out on some of the key challenges facing NCPs, as well as best practice standards. NCPs will be invited to help create the assessment tool, which will then be used to develop individual NCP improvement plans tailored specifically for each of the nine NCPs that will provide constructive recommendations aimed at improving their performance and functioning.
Addressing Barriers to Access to Remedy in CEE Countries
As part of state responsibility to disseminate and implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all states are encouraged to develop National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights. These National Action Plans help determine government action on access to remedy, so that people affected by a company’s operations are able to seek redress through effective judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms, including the NCPs. As there is currently insufficient understanding of the barriers to accessing remedy and the relationships, synergies, and complementarities between different means of redress in the CEE countries, this project will develop a baseline analysis with a specific focus on access to remedy. The baseline assessments, while tailored specifically for the Czech Republic and Poland, will have analysis relevant for the entire CEE region on the current state of affairs on access to remedy, while also offering recommendations towards addressing shortcomings and improving the accessibility and effectiveness of the judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.
Strengthened Civil Society Capacity to Use the NCP System
Civil society organizations in the CEE region play an important role in helping communities and individuals adversely impacted by irresponsible business conduct access non-judicial grievance mechanisms, such as the NCP system. In order to further strengthen civil society’s knowledge of the Guidelines and their capacity to use the NCP system, this project will help NGOs and trade unions further develop their ability to identify, prepare, file, and follow up on potential cases to address business and human rights related disputes. Through training seminars coupled with ‘on the job training,’ experienced and less experienced experts from NGOs will work together to develop one or more real complaints that adhere to the requirements of the respective NCP(s) and can be submitted to help affected people move one step closer to accessing remedy.
For more information, please contact:
OECD Watch Secretariat (hosted by SOMO)
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
Frank Bold Society
Brno, Czech Republic
 The OECD Guideline’s core criteria for effective NCPs are visibility, accessibility, transparency, accountability, impartiality, predictability, equitability and compatibility with the Guidelines.