About Responsible Business Conduct


OECD instruments and tools on Responsible Business Conduct

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are an international legal instrument, adopted by all OECD members and open for adherence to interested non-OECD members. To date, around 50 countries have adhered to the Guidelines or are in the process of adhering. These countries represent some of the largest markets in the world and a large majority of global trade and investment activity. The Guidelines are part of the OECD Declaration and Decisions on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.

The Guidelines were adopted in 1976 and have been reviewed several times to ensure that they remain a leading tool to promote responsible business conduct in the changing landscape of the global economy. The most recent update in 2011 took place with the active participation of business, labour, NGOs, non-adhering countries and international organisations.


Responsible Business Conduct in action

Governments that adhere to the Guidelines commit to implement and promote them.

This is done in several ways:


  • The National Contact Points for RBC are established by governments to promote the Guidelines and to handle cases against companies when the Guidelines are not observed as a non-judicial grievance mechanism (referred to as “specific instances”). 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, NCPs for RBC have handled more than 425 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.
  • A key element of RBC is risk-based due diligence – a process through which businesses can identify, prevent and mitigate their actual and potential negative impacts, and account for how those impacts are addressed. This process involves meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct, adopted in June 2018, is the first government-backed reference on due diligence that applies to all sectors and all businesses. The OECD has also developed sector-specific guidance for minerals, extractives, garment and footwear, agriculture and financial sectors. By helping companies understand the impacts of their activities and by clarifying the expectations around due diligence, these instruments guide companies on what they should do in order to know and show that they are behaving responsibly.
  • Governments also have an important role to play in supporting the effective implementation of RBC standards. This role includes creating an enabling policy environment to support and promote responsible business practices, as well as leading by example as economic actors (e.g. through public procurement, export credits, and development finance), as owners of enterprises and in their trade and investment policies. Since 2015 the promotion of RBC policies forms an integral part of the OECD’s Policy Framework for Investment and RBC is now systematically integrated into the OECD Investment Policy Reviews
‌ Due diligence guidance 2018

Find out more about OECD work on RBC : Annual reports on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Find out more about why RBC matters

Find out more about how RBC contributes to shaping better policies for better lives

Read how RBC can become a powerful driver for achieving the SDGs

Read about how OECD, ILO and UN instruments are aligned to provide complementary guidance on RBC (English|French)


The OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct

RBC - image for home page

The OECD’s work on RBC is delivered through the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct. The RBC Centre, which is part of the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, works with governments, business, workers and civil society to promote the implementation of the OECD Guidelines.


The RBC Centre provides the Secretariat to the Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct, composed of representatives of all governments adhering to the Guidelines. The Working Party’s mandate includes supporting governments in designing policies for responsible business conduct, developing guidance to business of how to implement due diligence and promoting its implementation, and strengthening access to remedy through National Contact Points for RBC. 

The RBC Centre also provides the Secretariat for the Network of National Contact Points and maintains a database of all cases handled by NCPs. Another key area of work of the RBC Centre is due diligence for responsible business conduct. It supports the development and implementation of due diligence guidance and works in close cooperation with the various advisory bodies created to advance this work as well as through international programmes :


OECD Watch


Business at OECD (BIAC)


The Trade Union Advisory Committee TUAC


RBC Global Partnerships


Related Documents