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RBC - NCPs 20 years identifier

 

 
 

Providing access to remedy: 20 years and the road ahead

 

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct (NCPs) as non-judicial grievance mechanisms under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines). NCPs are a unique implementation mechanism on RBC and have supported access to remedy on a global scale by providing a platform for mediation and conciliation.

Since 2000, 49 NCPs for RBC have handled more than 500 cases, addressing impacts from business operations in over 100 countries and territories, linked to alleged corporate, social, environmental, labour or human rights abuses. This process can lead to remedy for victims and bring about significant changes in corporate conduct, thereby contributing to the prevention of future harms.

With globalised corporate activity intensifying and related developments, such as climate change and global inequalities accelerating, RBC and access to remedy are more relevant than ever. 

 

Find out more 

 

20 cases for 20 years of NCPs

These 20 notable cases handled by NCPs over the last two decades illustrate the distinctive ways in which NCPs have been able to make a difference. This selection provides a partial overview of the themes and sectors that have been addressed by NCPs, and highlights achievements and challenges in facilitating remedy in concrete cases

Below listing is in alphabetical order and organised as follows : [case company sector: chapters of the OECD Guidelines’ chapters allegedly not observed]

Mining: indigenous peoples’ rights, environment, bribery and corruption

Michelin Group and four NGOs and trade Union (France, 2012)

In July 2012, four NGOs, the Tami Nadu Land Rights Federation (India), the Association of Villagers of Thervoy, SANGAM (Therevoy Grama Makkal Nala Sanga, India), the NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), the Association SHERPA (France) and the trade union Confederation Générale du Travail (CGT France) submitted a specific instance to the French NCP. In it, they alleged that Michelin Group, a French multinational enterprise, had breached the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies, Disclosure, Human Rights, Employment and Industrial Relations, Environment, and Combating Bribery. The issues raised concerned the impacts that the construction of a tire manufacturing plant had on recently industrialised pasture land.

From 2012 to 2013, the NCP offered its good offices to the parties but no agreement could be reached and the complainants withdrew from the process. In July 2013, the NCP issued a final statement containing determinations on conformity with the Guidelines and four recommendations for the company. As a result of the NCP’s good offices, the company undertook preparatory steps for environmental, social and human rights assessment studies for the project, and committed to developing an action plan to adapt its CSR policy and internal due diligence systems accordingly. The NCP further requested that the company ensure compliance with the Guidelines both in the start-up phase of the production on site as well as in the development of the industrial project.

The company regularly updated the NCP on their implementation of the recommendations and consulted the NCP on certain matters, which was reflected in two follow-up statements. Several meetings took place between the NCP and the company. The continued dialogue with the NCP and the follow-up reports supported the company in integrating due diligence into its operations, and in developing innovative standards in the sector.

 

  • Recommendations and follow up by the NCP
  • Change in NCP policy

Future in Our Hands and Intex Resources (Norway, 2009)


In January 2009, the NGO Future in Our Hands submitted a specific instance to the Norwegian NCP, alleging that Intex Resources, a company active in the mining and extractives sector, had not observed the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Environment and Combating Bribery in relation to a nickel project in the Philippines. The issues related to alleged flawed consultations with indigenous populations, bribery and corruption, and impacts of the project on vital water resources of neighbouring villages and agricultural fields.

In 2010, the NCP decided to conduct on-the-ground fact-checking through the Norwegian embassy in Manila, which hired independent experts and a social anthropologist to examine the allegations. On this basis, the NCP offered mediation to the parties, but the company declined. The Norwegian NCP therefore concluded in 2011 that Intex had failed to undertake a systematic assessment of the affected indigenous groups and had not properly consulted the affected groups, and that its environmental impact assessment was insufficient. The NCP made several recommendations to the company in this regard. It found no evidence indicating that Intex was involved in bribery or corruption but recommended that the company establish a solid managerial system to manage such risks.

 

  • Extensive fact-checking
  • Use of embassies to review impacts abroad

Agriculture: impacts on local communities

Bolloré Group/Socfin Group/Socapalm and Sherpa concerning operations in Cameroon (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, 2010)

In December 2010, the NGOs Sherpa, CED, FOCARGE and Misereor submitted a specific instance to the NCPs of Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The submission alleged that the Société Camerounaise de Palmeraies (Socapalm), a Cameroonian producer of palm oil, was causing adverse environmental and social impacts on local communities and plantation workers, in a manner inconsistent with the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Disclosure, Employment and Industrial Relations, and Environment. The case was directed at shareholders and business partners of Socapalm, namely the Bolloré Group (France), Financière du Champ de Mars (Belgium), Socfinal, now Socfin, (Luxembourg) and Intercultures, now Socfinaf, (Luxembourg), as the submitters alleged that these companies did not use their leverage regarding human rights, social and environmental adverse impacts of Socapalm's activities locally. Following coordination, the French NCP took the lead and engaged with the Bolloré Group, as Socapalm’s indirect minority shareholder and board member, as well as majority shareholder in Socfin, itself a majority shareholder in Socfinaf and Socapalm. After several years, the company accepted the good offices of the French NCP, who conducted mediation between Bolloré and Sherpa.

In June 2013, the French NCP concluded that all four companies had failed to conduct due diligence in relation to their business relations with SOCAPALM. Bolloré and Sherpa agreed to establish a remediation plan for Socapalm covering a range of issues, including community dialogue, reduction of environmental nuisances, local development, workers' rights and conditions of work and transparency. The agreement also provided for an independent monitoring mechanism to operationalise the remediation plan and ensure its implementation.

The French NCP followed up with the parties regarding the agreement’s implementation, but it appeared that it was being blocked by the Belgian-Luxembourg Socfin Group, Socapalm’s parent company. The lead in the case was then transferred to the Belgian NCP to conduct follow up with the Socfin Group. After initially declining, in December 2015, it agreed to participate in further mediation with the Belgian NCP. No agreement was reached, prompting the Belgian NCP to conclude that the 2013 remediation plan was only partially implemented, noting Socfin Group’s refusal to carry out neutral and independent monitoring. The French NCP has continued following up with Bolloré Group in relation to due diligence issues. Both NCPs issued Final and Follow up Statements. 

 

  • Long lasting effective coordination by 3 NCPs
  • NCP addressed impacts abroad through business relationships
  • Reliance on business relationships to respond to lack of company engagement

 

Automotive sector: local communities’ rights, environment

Michelin Group and four NGOs and trade Union (France, 2012)

In July 2012, four NGOs, the Tami Nadu Land Rights Federation (India), the Association of Villagers of Thervoy, SANGAM (Therevoy Grama Makkal Nala Sanga, India), the NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), the Association SHERPA (France) and the trade union Confederation Générale du Travail (CGT France) submitted a specific instance to the French NCP. In it, they alleged that Michelin Group, a French multinational enterprise, had breached the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies, Disclosure, Human Rights, Employment and Industrial Relations, Environment, and Combating Bribery. The issues raised concerned the impacts that the construction of a tire manufacturing plant had on recently industrialised pasture land.

From 2012 to 2013, the NCP offered its good offices to the parties but no agreement could be reached and the complainants withdrew from the process. In July 2013, the NCP issued a final statement containing determinations on conformity with the Guidelines and four recommendations for the company. As a result of the NCP’s good offices, the company undertook preparatory steps for environmental, social and human rights assessment studies for the project, and committed to developing an action plan to adapt its CSR policy and internal due diligence systems accordingly. The NCP further requested that the company ensure compliance with the Guidelines both in the start-up phase of the production on site as well as in the development of the industrial project.

The company regularly updated the NCP on their implementation of the recommendations and consulted the NCP on certain matters, which was reflected in two follow-up statements. Several meetings took place between the NCP and the company. The continued dialogue with the NCP and the follow-up reports supported the company in integrating due diligence into its operations, and in developing innovative standards in the sector.

 

  • Recommendations and follow up by the NCP
  • Change in NCP policy

Future in Our Hands and Intex Resources (Norway, 2009)


In January 2009, the NGO Future in Our Hands submitted a specific instance to the Norwegian NCP, alleging that Intex Resources, a company active in the mining and extractives sector, had not observed the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Environment and Combating Bribery in relation to a nickel project in the Philippines. The issues related to alleged flawed consultations with indigenous populations, bribery and corruption, and impacts of the project on vital water resources of neighbouring villages and agricultural fields.

In 2010, the NCP decided to conduct on-the-ground fact-checking through the Norwegian embassy in Manila, which hired independent experts and a social anthropologist to examine the allegations. On this basis, the NCP offered mediation to the parties, but the company declined. The Norwegian NCP therefore concluded in 2011 that Intex had failed to undertake a systematic assessment of the affected indigenous groups and had not properly consulted the affected groups, and that its environmental impact assessment was insufficient. The NCP made several recommendations to the company in this regard. It found no evidence indicating that Intex was involved in bribery or corruption but recommended that the company establish a solid managerial system to manage such risks.

 

  • Extensive fact-checking
  • Use of embassies to review impacts abroad

Renewable energy sector: local communities’ rights, forced displacement

Statkraft AS and the Sami reindeer herding collective in Jijnjevaerie Sami Village (Sweden, 2012)

In October 2012, the Sami reindeer herding collective in Jijnjevaerie Sami Village submitted a specific instance to the Swedish and Norwegian NCPs alleging that Statkraft AS, a Norwegian multinational enterprise, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies, Human Rights and Environment. The issues concerned the building of a wind power plant on the traditional lands of the indigenous reindeer-herding ground of Jijnjevaerie in Sweden. The submitter alleged the project would severely restrict the community’s ability to pursue reindeer husbandry, which constitutes the basis of their economic and cultural survival. As such, community members would be forced to their herding practices and dislocate them from the environment that provides them with their cultural identity.

Following coordination between the Swedish and Norwegian NCPs, the Norwegian NCP took the lead. Since the parties had renewed their dialogue bilaterally, the NCPs decided to defer the case. However, after the dialogue failed to produce an agreement, the Saami village requested the NCP to facilitate mediation in September 2013. The Norwegian NCP resumed its lead role and in June 2014, the NCP concluded the mediation without an agreement between the parties.

In February 2016, the Norwegian NCP issued its final statement. While the NCP did not find grounds for concluding that Statkraft had not complied with the Guidelines, it recommended Stakfraft to clearly promote indigenous people’s rights and the implementation of the Guidelines. The NCP also recommended the parties to continue to negotiate an agreement on the further development of the wind power projects, their scope and extent and compensation schemes.

In August 2016, the parties reached an agreement on the impact of the wind power projects as well as preventative measures to take in order to reduce the negative effects on the village and reindeer herding.

  

  • Case submitted by an indigenous community
  • Agreement reached

Mining: local communities’ rights

Kinross Brasil Mineração and Paracatu neighboring association (Brazil, 2013)

In June 2013, the city of Paracatu’s neighbouring associations submitted a specific instance to the Brazilian NCP alleging that a subsidiary of Kinross Gold Corporation Group, a mining company, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies, Human Rights and Environment. The issues concerned the use of explosives by the company that had allegedly damaged surrounding homes as well as the building of infrastructure in the rural area of Machadinho making the entry to the city of Paracatu difficult.

The Brazilian NCP provided its mediation services to the parties, which led to a mutual agreement. Although no link was established between the company’s use of explosives and the damage to homes, the company committed to repair the homes through a partnership project with the City of Paracatu and the active participation of the community. The Brazilian NCP also made recommendations, in particular that the company inform residents from neighbouring areas of their work and future projects, to build a relationship of trust and conduct due diligence processes that assess the adverse impacts of its mining activities.

 

  • NCP intervention benefits local community
  • Direct remedy: in-kind reparation

Oil and gas: impacts on local communities and environment

Soco International PLC and World  Wildlife Fund for Nature International (WWF) (UK, 2013)

In October 2013, the NGO World Wildlife Fund for Nature International (WWF) submitted a specific instance to the UK NCP alleging that SOCO International, a company active in the extractives sector, had not observed the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Human Rights and Environment. The issues were that the company was conducting oil exploration activities in Virunga National Park, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which posed risks to the local environment and communities that were incompatible with the Virunga’s status as a World Heritage Site, and with DRC’s legal commitment to preserve it. According to WWF, SOCO also did not conduct appropriate and systematic human rights due diligence, or inform the public about the potential environment, health, and safety risks and impacts of its activities.

The UK NCP appointed an external mediator to assist the parties, which resulted in an agreement and joint statement by the parties in June 2014. The Company agreed to cease and refrain from any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park for as long as UNESCO and the DRC government viewed such activities as incompatible with the Park’s World Heritage Status. The company also agreed to complete its current seismic survey and to honour its commitments to local inhabitants to continue its social programmes.

 

  • Direct remedy: the company stopped operations
  • NCP addressed impacts abroad

 

Shipping industry: collective bargaining and right to join a union

Deutsche Post DHL and UNI/ITF (Germany, 2014)

In November 2012, two trade unions, UNI Global Union (UNI) and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) submitted a specific instance to the German NCP alleging that Deutsche Post DHL had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on Human Rights and Employment and Industrial Relations. The issues concerned several violations of trade union rights in numerous countries where the company had operations (Bahrain, Colombia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Norway, Panama, South Africa, Turkey, the USA, and Vietnam) as well as insufficient due diligence procedures.

Following partial acceptance of the complaint, the German NCP provided mediation with the support of other NCPs and German embassies in Turkey and India. As a result, the parties issued a joint statement whereby they agreed that by means of the mediation process the alleged complaints were clarified and/or could be resolved by further bilateral dialogue. The parties also concluded a protocol committing the parties to ongoing quarterly meetings and dialogue on such issues with the continuous support of the NCP. This protocol has since then been extended and revised several times.

 

  • Involvement of embassies in mediation
  • NCP process fosters long-term relationship

 

Banking: forced displacement, land dispossession

ANZ Banking Group, and Inclusive Development International and Equitable Cambodia (Australia, 2014)

In October 2014, Equitable Cambodia (EC) and Inclusive Development International (IDI) submitted a specific instance to the Australian NCP on behalf of 681 Cambodian families alleging that ANZ Bank had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies and Human Rights. The issues concerned the company’s provision of a loan to Phnom Penh Sugar (PPS) for the development of a sugar plantation and refinery project in Cambodia, which is alleged to have forcibly displaced the families and dispossessed them of their land and productive resources.

The Australian NCP provided the services of an external mediator to conduct mediation but the parties could not reach agreement on the issues. The Australian NCP then recommended in October 2018 that the company instigate methods to promote compliance with its stated human rights and due diligence standards in its lending activities, and establish a grievance resolution mechanism to support the effective operation of its corporate standards in relation to human rights.

Civil society actors on the ground continued to raise the issue of compensation and provided essential support to the NCP to facilitate this during the follow up phase. As a result, during follow up, the parties engaged constructively again and reached an agreement whereby the bank recognised the continuing hardships faced by the affected communities, and agreed to pay them profit it earned from the loan.

 

  • NCP addresses impacts of financial sector
  • Direct remedy: financial compensation

 

Garment sector: due diligence, workplace safety

PWT Group and the NGOs Clean Clothes Campaign Denmark and Active Consumers (Denmark, 2014)

In December 2014, the NGOs Clean Clothes Campaign Denmark and Active Consumers submitted a specific instance to the Danish NCP alleging that PWT Group, a clothing company, had not observed the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Employment and Industrial Relations, and Human Rights. More specifically, the submitters alleged that the company had failed to carry out due diligence in relation to its supplier, the textile manufacturer New Wave Style Ltd. which was located in the Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, that collapsed in April 2013, killing 1,138 people.

Mediation offered by the Danish NCP did not lead to an agreement, therefore the NCP examined the issues and concluded that the company had not applied appropriate processes for due diligence, particularly as it did not indicate details on inspections conducted at New Wave Style in 2012, nor whether any improvements had been required by the company following inspection. The Danish NCP concluded the case in October 2016 and made detailed recommendations, including on the revision of the company’s management and risk assessment system and the compliance of the company’s corporate social responsibility policy with the Guidelines. In January 2018, the NCP published a follow up statement noting the company had fully implemented the NCP’s recommendation.  

 

  • Effective change of due diligence policy
  • Verification of remedy outcome by NCP

 

Hotel industry: right to join a union and collective bargaining

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF) (United States, 2015)

In February 2015, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF), an international federation of trade unions, submitted a specific instance to the US NCP. In it, the submitters alleged that affiliates of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide did not observe the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Human Rights, and Employment and Industrial Relations. The issues related to alleged failures to recognise and negotiate with trade unions, and mass-terminations of workers at Sheraton-branded properties in the Maldives and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The US NCP provided mediation services by the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to the parties, and in May 2016, the parties reached agreement that led to a complete resolution of the issues at the Addis Ababa hotel, and to the setting up of a process to continue exploring options regarding the issues at the Maldives hotel. The US NCP also recommended that Starwood review their human rights policies and supplier code of conduct to make reference to the OECD guidance on responsible business conduct.

 

  • NCP addressed impacts abroad through business relationships

Pharmaceuticals: due diligence

Mylan N.V. and Mr. Bart Stapert (Netherlands, 2015)

In March 2015, an attorney, Mr. Bart Stapert, submitted a specific instance to the Dutch NCP alleging that Mylan N.V, a pharmaceutical company, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapter on Human Rights.  The issues concerned the manufacturing of rocuronium bromide used for lethal injections through the sales of the generic medicine in the United States. More specifically, Mr. Bart Stapert alleged that Mylan N.V had failed to put in place distribution controls so that its products would not be used in relation to capital punishment.

The NCP provided mediation whereby the company committed to put in place restrictions to prevent its distributors from distributing its products for use in lethal injections. In its final statement, the Dutch NCP further clarified that the Guidelines provisions on due diligence apply to business relationships along the supply and distribution chains for products. The NCP made additional recommendations to encourage pharmaceutical companies to work with stakeholders such as distributors and human rights organisations to prevent products from being used in lethal injections. The NCP also suggested that Mylan share the outcome of this matter with other companies in the sector. In September 2017, the Dutch NCP conducted an evaluation with the parties to assess the outcomes of the mediation and found that the agreement had been fully implemented.

 

  • Case submitted by a concerned individual
  • NCP clarified the notion of due diligence

 

Financial sector: due diligence, right to join a union

Natixis-NGAM and UNITE HERE (France, 2016)

In September 2016, the North American trade union, Unite Here, submitted a specific instance to the French NCP alleging that the French Bank Natixis and one of its asset managers, Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM now NBIM) had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies and Employment and Industrial Relations. The issues concerned freedom of association, collective bargaining and working conditions at a California-based hotel. AEW Capital Management, a US subsidiary of NGAM (now NBIM) was providing asset management services to an American pension fund that was the hotel’s majority shareholder (95%).

The French NCP provided mediation between Natixis Group and UNITE HERE, concentrating on the Group’s due diligence. The outcome of the case was the sale of the hotel to another American group in the hospitality sector, in which AEW took into account the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Institutional Investors when selecting the new buyer, and the subsequent unionisation of workers and collective bargaining. As a result of the case, NGAM (now NBIM) also integrated the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Institutional Investors into its assets management activities, including in relation to AEW Capital Management.

 

  • Direct remedy: workers allowed to unionise; hotel unionised and collective agreement concluded
  • Due diligence and use of leverage toward company’s subsidiaries.

Mining: worker’s rights

Banro Corporation and Group of former employees (Canada, 2016)

In February 2016, a group of five former employees of the Société Minière et Industrielle du Kivu (SOMINKI), located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) submitted a specific instance to the Canadian NCP, alleging that Banro Corporation, a majority shareholder of SOMINKI, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapter on General Policies. The issues related to an alleged failure by the company to settle the final accounts of 4,987 former employees of SOMINKI following its liquidation.

The Canadian NCP concluded that offering facilitated dialogue only between Banro and the submitters without the presence of other key actors in the liquidation process (in particular the Government of DRC and the Liquidation Committee) would not facilitate the completion of SOMINKI’s liquidation. However, it requested that the company take action, in good faith, to reactivate the liquidation process, and provide updates to the NCP. It also recommended that the company endorse and implement the OECD Guidelines and the OECD Due Diligence for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector.

In its follow-up statement, the Canadian NCP expressed its disappointment with Banro’s failure to respond to the NCP’s requests and repeatedly missed deadlines. The NCP noted that this lack of cooperation would be taken into consideration should the company qualify in the future as a Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) client or for trade advocacy support provided by Canada's diplomatic missions abroad.

 

  • NCP fosters direct policy coherence
  • Company faces consequences after NCP follow up

Sports industry: migrant worker’s rights

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), (Switzerland, 2017)

In May 2015, the international trade union federation Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) submitted a specific instance to the Swiss NCP alleging that the Fédération internationale de Football Association (FIFA) had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies and Human Rights. The issues concerned a series of human rights violations of migrant workers related to the construction of facilities for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. More specifically, the submitter alleged that FIFA had failed to conduct adequate and ongoing human rights due diligence as called for in the Guidelines.

The Swiss NCP determined that, even if not a commercial company, the Guidelines applied to FIFA given that its involvement in the organisation of the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifies as activities of a commercial nature. It provided mediation services to the parties from January to December 2016, which resulted in an agreement around five areas, including identification and use of FIFA’s leverage on relevant actors in Qatar and establishment of a complaint mechanism for workers. FIFA accepted its responsibility to mitigate risks by aiming to exercise its leverage whenever possible with all relevant actors in Qatar to contribute to ensuring decent and safe working conditions for the FIFA World Cup Qatar stadiums. The parties further agreed on a series of follow-up activities and met within nine months after the publication of the final statement under the auspices of the NCP.

 

  • NCP applies Guidelines to sporting federation
  • NCP case contributes to government policy change

Food and beverage industry: workers’ rights

Former employees, and Bralima and Heineken N.V (Netherlands, 2017)

In December 2015, three individuals submitted a specific instance to the Dutch NCP alleging that Heineken and its subsidiary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Bralima, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General policies, Employment and Industrial Relations, and Combating Bribery. The issues concerned a series of allegedly unfair and unlawful dismissals of 168 former employees by Bralima during the civil war in DRC between 1999 and 2003, and the alleged failure by Heineken to use its influence to prevent further damage for the former employees.

The Dutch NCP provided mediation services to the parties in June 2016, at locations convenient for the submitters, including at the Dutch Embassies in Uganda and Paris, while also helping to cover their travel expenses thereby enabling them to participate. The parties reached agreement in August 2017, including on financial compensation for the employees dismissed.

 

  • Direct remedy: financial compensation
  • NCP case solves 17 year old issues
  • NCP facilitates mediation through embassies

 

Banking: climate change

ING Bank and NGOs concerning climate policy (Netherlands, 2017)

In May 2017, NGOs Oxfam Novib, Greenpeace, Bank Track and Friends submitted a specific instance to the Dutch NCP alleging that ING Bank had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on Environment, Disclosure and Consumer Interests. Most specifically, the submitters alleged that the Bank failed to sufficiently commit and contribute to the targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate.  The issues related to alleged failures in publicly reporting ING’s indirect product emissions through the companies and projects it finances worldwide.

The Dutch NCP provided mediation to the parties, which resulted in an agreement in 2019, whereby ING agreed to reach intermediary targets in line with the Paris Agreement. The parties also agreed to jointly call on the Dutch Government to request the International Energy Agency to develop as soon as possible two 1.5 degrees scenarios, one with and one without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), that provide a 66% chance to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees. The NCP further called on the parties to continue their constructive dialogue and to consider the feasibility of developing a joint roadmap to intermediate targets setting and disclosure.  

 

  • Financial sector due diligence responsibilities

  • Case contributes to fighting climate change

Oil and gas: local communities’ rights and environmental protection

ENI S.p.A., ENI International BV, and CWA and ACA (Italy, 2017)

In December 2017, the NGO Egbema Voice of Freedom and the law firm Chima Williams Associates submitted a specific instance to the Italian NCP alleging that ENI S.p.A and its affiliate ENI International BC and local subsidiary Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC) had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Policies, Human Rights and Environment. The specific instance was filed on behalf of residents near Mgbede, Nigeria, as their village was notably affected since 1971 by regular violent floods resulting from the companies’ oil drilling.

Professional mediation facilitated by the Italian NCP led to an agreement whereby the company committed to build and maintain an adequate drainage system that would end the annual flooding caused by its operations. The parties agreed to publish this agreement in full, and phase one (out of three) of the works is now underway. 

 

  • NCP helps solve decades-old issues
  • Direct remedy: in-kind reparation

 

Agriculture: local communities’ rights

Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and TUK Indonesia: Land Conflict in Indonesia (Switzerland, 2018)

In January 2018, NGO TUK Indonesia submitted a specific instance to the Swiss NCP on behalf of two Indonesian Communities, Kerunang and Entapang, alleging that the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi-stakeholder organisation incorporated as an association under Swiss law with the goal of promoting sustainable palm oil, had not observed the Guidelines’ chapter on Human Rights. The issues concerned an unsolved land conflict in Indonesia dealt through RSPO’s own complaint mechanism. The submitter asked the Swiss NCP to support the elaboration of an action plan with clear deadlines between TUK Indonesia and RSPO regarding the resolution of the ongoing complaint.

The NCP noted that its degree of influence in this case may be limited as the issues took place in Indonesia and no operational unit of RSPO was located in Switzerland, but decided to accept the case since no other NCP would be competent. Additionally, despite the fact that RSPO is not an ‘enterprise’ per se, the NCP concluded that it fell under the Guidelines because its funding is based on contributions from palm oil trade, and on fees for its activities (e.g. certification of plantations) and because the RSPO label creates value for palm oil products.

The mediation offered by the Swiss NCP led to an agreement whereby RSPO committed to include criteria for a fair legal review in an ongoing case dealt by its dispute settlement facility and to present an action plan with clear deadlines. Both parties further committed to continue their regular exchanges and to meet accordingly to the agreed deadlines until the conclusion of the pending case with the RSPO’s complaint mechanism.

 

  • NCP applies a global reach broad interpretation of ‘enterprise’
  • NCP assists other RBC mechanism

 

E-commerce: misleading advertisement and environmental protection

Grupa OLX and Frank Bold Foundation (Poland, 2018)

On 9 April 2018, the NGO Frank Bold Foundation submitted a specific instance to the Polish NCP alleging that Grupa OLX, an internet service company operating an online advertisement portal, did not observe the Guidelines chapters on General Policies, Environment, and Consumer Interests chapters. The issues were that Grupa OLX allowed clients to advertise the sale of furnaces on its platform, and to indicate that they could be used to burn processed oil and discarded wooden railway sleepers, which are considered to be hazardous waste.

As a result of the NCP’s good offices, the parties signed a letter of intent on 25 April 2019, agreeing that the submitter would monitor the advertisements’ content and the company would delete advertisements violating environmental protection provisions. Furthermore, the parties agreed that the submitter would support the company in its environmental protection activities, aligned with environmental protection and sustainable development principles.

The NCP published a follow up statement on 28 July 2020. The NCP noted that the Company had carried out training for staff to ensure advertisement content aligned with key standards. The NCP also noted that Grupa OLX removed 285 advertisements identified by Frank Bold Foundation as containing inappropriate content. Grupa OLX also undertook their own review and removed 16 629 advertisements containing offers for furnaces burning processed oil. Additionally, in the case of 6 656 advertisements, Grupa OLX informed users that their content did not comply with their advertising expectations, and advertisements that were not subsequently corrected were removed by the company. The follow up statement recommended that Grupa OLX continue its improved approach both in the context of internal activities related to increasing employee awareness, as well as in cooperation with external partners. It also recommended that the submitter continue collaborating with the Company.

 

  • Digital sector impacts on consumers and environment
  • Over 16,000 wrongful and environmentally harmful ads taken down
  • Long term engagement between company and stakeholders

Manufacturing industry: factory closure and worker’s rights

Unilever and Trade Union N°1, Chilean Trade Union Confederation (CUT) (Chile, 2005 and 2019)

In April 2019, Unilever's No.1 National Workers' Union and the Chilean Trade Union Confederation (CUT) submitted a specific instance to the Chilean NCP alleging that Unilever had not observed the Guidelines’ chapters on General Principles, Disclosure of Information, Human Rights, Employment and Industrial Relations, and Consumer interests'. The issues concerned the dismissal of 152 workers associated with the Union as a result of a site closure, which allegedly contradicted a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties with the Chilean NCP in 2005 as a result of another specific instance.

The NCP and the parties began preparations for mediating the issues. Meanwhile, the parties reached an agreement in the context of parallel judicial proceedings, including on financial compensation and the deletion of a specific provision from the Memorandum of Understanding signed before the NCP in 2005. Although there were no direct dialogue sessions, the Chilean NCP process contributed to the subsequent agreement reached between the parties. The NCP also recommended to maintain consultations and cooperation between the company, the workers and their representatives on issues of common interest, and to ensure compliance with the updated Memorandum of Understanding, through an effective and constructive dialogue.

 

  • 2005 NCP agreement key to solving 2019 issues
  • NCP supports judicial proceedings