OECD Secretary-General statement on events in Bangladesh

 

04/06/2013 - The OECD is deeply saddened by the tragedy at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.  

This event is a dramatic wakeup call for the international textile industry, governments, and other stakeholders to address the risks before they result in tragedies such as this.  “OECD supports the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Abandoning production in the country can deprive it of an essential pathway out of poverty and is not a solution. The responsible course is to work with stakeholders to guarantee the safety of workers, improve their working conditions and ensure respect for human rights”, OECD Secretary-General Gurría said.

Secretary-General Gurría has written to the President of Bangladesh to offer the OECD’s full support. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are comprehensive standards on responsible business conduct which 45 OECD and non-OECD adhering governments expect their enterprises to meet in their global operations.  The OECD Guidelines ask enterprises to respect human and labour rights and be responsible for identifying and addressing risks of adverse impacts associated with their own activities or through their supply chains.

The Guidelines are supported by dedicated offices (“National Contact Points”) in each adhering country.  Most of the enterprises sourcing textiles from Bangladesh are located in countries which have adhered to the Guidelines. “Governments have called on their National Contact Points to assess the responsibilities of their enterprises. But this is only a beginning. It must be complemented by collective action,” Secretary-General Gurría stated.  The OECD Guidelines using risk-based due diligence, multi-stakeholder engagement and targeted development assistance, have been instrumental in meeting challenges in other sectors such as trade in minerals and may be able to make an important contribution alongside initiatives already underway in the textiles industry.

The Rana Plaza tragedy will be addressed as a matter of priority in the high level discussions at the Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct and the meeting of National Contact Points for the OECD Guidelines to be held in Paris on 24-27 June.  Bangladesh has been invited to join a broad spectrum of governments and stakeholders to address the challenges facing the textile industry, co-ordinate actions of the signatories to the Guidelines and develop collective responses under the OECD Guidelines’ pro-active agenda.