Specific instances mechanism of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises


The Guidelines are the only government-backed international instrument on responsible business conduct with a built-in grievance mechanism – specific instances. Under this mechanism, NCPs are obliged to provide a platform for discussion and assistance to stakeholders to help find a resolution for issues arising from the alleged non-observance of the Guidelines. NCPs must do so in a manner that is impartial, predictable, equitable, and compatible with the principles and standards of the Guidelines.

Specific instances are not legal cases and NCPs are not judicial bodies. NCPs focus on problem solving - they offer good offices and facilitate access to consensual and non-adversarial procedures (ex. conciliation or mediation).

Any party can submit a specific instance to an NCP regarding the alleged non-observance of the Guidelines. Once the specific instance has been submitted, its consideration is composed of three phases:

  1. Initial assessment: to determine if the issues raised merit further examination
  2. Offer of good offices: to seek advice and facilitate access to consensual and non-adversarial means to resolve the issues
  3. Conclusion: to issue statements or reports

It is understood that good offices can only proceed upon agreement of the parties concerned. The parties’ commitment to participate in good faith is a crucial element to a successful resolution of issues.

Identifying different ways in which NCPs can use informal problem-solving methods in specific instances and improving mediation skills have been identified as high priority for NCPs following the 2011 Update of the Guidelines. NCPs of the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom have sponsored a Mediation Manual by the Consensus Building Institute that clarifies whether, when, and how NCPs could use mediation and other informal problem-solving methods to resolve claims in specific instances.

A full description of the role of NCPs in relation to specific instances is provided in the text and commentary of the Guidelines under Implementation Procedures.

MNE Guidelines database image with visual signature

The specific instances mechanism has been part of the Guidelines since the 2000 review. Over this time, more than 400 specific instances have been treated by NCPs. Prior to the 2011 update, only specific instances accepted for consideration by NCPs were reported, however the database has now been updated to include specific instances that have not been accepted. Download an overview of cases handled from 2000-2017.



NCP - only the NCPs who have received a specific instance are listed in this field. When a specific instance involves several NCPs, a lead NCP is designated and support NCPs are named separately.

Theme - the thematic list is based on the 11 chapters of the 2011 update of the Guidelines. Some specific instances involve multiple themes. The chapter numbers are not included to allow for the specific instances treated between 2000 and 2011 to be integrated in the database.

Date - this field designates the year in which the NCP first receives a request to examine an alleged non-observance of the Guidelines.

Host country - only countries who have been host to a specific instance are displayed in this drop down list. Some specific instances involve multiple host countries. 

Industrial sectors - this list is based on UN ISIC top-level industry sectors. Only sectors that have been the object of a specific instance are visible.

Status - this field contains 3 options:

“In progress” includes all specific instances that fall in the categories:
- under initial assessment
- assistance to parties
- transferred

“Concluded” includes all specific instances that fall in the categories:
- specific instances closed after initial assessment
- specific instances closed after assistance to parties

"Not accepted" indicates that a specific instance has not been accepted for assessment.


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