Programme and Evaluation Report
The goal of the Dutch NCP International Conference on Wednesday October 10 2018, was to emphasize the positive narrative of the role the NCPs play in order to help improve Responsible Business Conduct (RBC).
The multiple positive impacts NCPs can generate, were illustrated by a range of presentations from different angles which highlighted best practices and lessons learned. The conference was attended by 10 NCPs from different parts of the world, as well as 80 other stakeholders, consisting of company and government representatives, NGOs and academics. The programme, which included a wide variety of topics and speakers, lead to lively discussions and generated important insights. All in all, it was clear that NCPs play an important role in International Responsible Business Conduct.
But, NCPs vary greatly and the functioning of the NCP system and of the NCP’s, can be improved.
Lessons learned from NCP cases
During the first session, Kathryn Dovey (OECD RBC Unit) drew a general picture about the functioning of all NCPs currently in place. She pointed out, that there are considerable differences between the NCPs. Additionally, she explained the dual role of these bodies; on the one hand, NCPs promote the OECD Guidelines and on the other hand, they handle specific instances and provide mediation.
During the panel discussion that followed with Joseph Wilde (OECD Watch) and Sander van ‘t Foort (PhD candidate at Nyenrode Business University), a debate arose about the effectiveness of the different types of remedy that NCP cases can lead to. The important difference between NCP mediation versus legal trial was also discussed. Finally, there was a debate on possible economic and/or diplomatic penalties that governments can impose on companies who are unwilling to participate in a mediation process.
Different parties in NCP cases shared their experiences with the NCP mediation process:
Firstly, the Mylan case was discussed by Dan Dolan (Head of Policy, Reprieve), Rogier Snijdewind (Senior Advisor Responsible Investment, PGGM) and Melanie Peters (Member of the Dutch NCP). The Dutch NCP –as an independent and credible body- played a crucial role as facilitator in the dialogue. The case attracted a huge media attention that lead to pressure from many directions resulting in a swift and successful mediation process.
Secondly, Detlev Brauns (Member of the German NCP), talked about two interesting cases filed by German trade unions; ‘Deutsche Post DHL’ and ‘Heidelberg Cement’. One very important lesson was derived from the process; it is crucial to establish an open and respectful dialogue between parties, even if the majority of facts remain disputed. By using the NCP procedures, many disagreements were resolved during the dialogues because parties kept an open mind and built the discussions around common grounds instead of sticking to opposing opinions. Additionally, he explained that monitoring and evaluating the follow-up after the final statement, is an important step in the process so that the dialogue between parties continues, even after the mediation process had ended. This prevented further conflicts.
Thirdly, Obbe Siderius (Heineken, Global Director business conduct) and Maartje van Putten (Chair of the Dutch NCP) discussed the Heineken case. This was an exceptional case as it lead to financial remedy for the victims. Obbe Siderius highlighted that it is crucial to have the right people around the table in order to establish an open dialogue and that local circumstances must be taken into account. The NCP provided a safe haven and impartial venue for dialogue, which was an important condition for this fruitful outcome.
Why should a trade union file a case with an NCP?
During this session Catelene Passchier (member of the Dutch NCP) explained how there is a lack of involvement of trade unions in RBC processes in many countries. However, their involvement in promoting the OECD Guidelines is essential, as this can create more attention to worker’s rights. She supported her position by discussing a range of NCP cases in which trade unions were involved. A discussion followed on the role of media attention in relation to NCP cases.
Access to remedy through ‘International RBC Agreements’ in the Netherlands:
And last, but not least, Alexandra van Selm (Programme Director IRBC at the Social and Economic Council (SER)) outlined the RBC approach of the Dutch government, which consists of international RBC sector Agreements. These multi-stakeholder processes complement the functioning of the Dutch NCP and also have systems of access to remedy incorporated. A discussion followed on the pros and cons of a binding framework versus the voluntary mechanisms which are currently in place. In future, however, both frameworks might be combined.
Programme Wednesday October 10, 11am-5pm, The Hague, The Netherlands
|10:45||Registration & Coffee|
By our chair for the day, Esther van Rijswijk
What makes an NCP successful and effective?
|13:45||Why should a trade union file a case with an NCP?
Presentation of the successes for trade unions of NCP cases filed.
Speaker Lucia van Westerlaak (President of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD Working Group on Multinational Enterprises and Netherlands Trade Union Confederation FNV) and Catelene Passchier, member of the Dutch NCP.
|14:15||Lessons learned from NCP cases (part 2): Participants in NCP cases tell about threir experiences, followed by questions and a discussion. The Heineken case: speakers Obbe Siderius (Heineken, Global Director business conduct) and Maartje van Putten, Chair of the Dutch NCP.
|15:30||Tea & coffee break|
|16:30||Closing and summary by the Chair of the Dutch NCP Maartje van Putten|
|17:00||End of Conference|