The UN Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Their Enforcement Mechanisms

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This chapter discusses the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as voluntary standards for business and human rights. Both standards have received significant scholarly attention. Although both initiatives differ with regard to some dimensions (e.g., in terms of their scope), they also share a number of similarities (e.g., their voluntary and principle-based nature and their lack of monitoring). It is therefore appropriate to discuss both initiatives and to also compare them with each other (whenever possible and feasible). The discussion in this chapter proceeds as follows. The next section discusses the theoretical background by emphasizing the rise of voluntary standards related to corporate sustainability and responsibility. The following two sections provide a more practical discussion. Section three and four take an in-depth look at the UNGC and the OECD Guidelines and discuss (a) the basic idea underlying both initiatives, (b) their link to the business and human rights agenda, and (c) their enforcement mechanisms. The discussion of both standards shows one important similarity: the lack of a robust system to implement and enforce the promoted principles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Business and Human Rights Law
EditorsIlias Bantekas, Michael Ashley Stein
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9781108830379, 9781108820721
ISBN (Electronic)9781108907293
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesCambridge Companions to Law


  • OECD
  • Human rights reporting
  • Multinational corporations
  • Business ethics

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