IRBC Agreements

Why is IRBC necessary?

Companies create jobs, drive wellbeing and innovation, and generate economic growth. International enterprise is very important to Dutch businesses and consumers. Businesses can contribute to sustainable growth by respecting human rights and the environment in their international dealings –but they must be vigilant. The globalisation of production chains means that Dutch businesses may unwittingly become involved, either directly or indirectly, in child labour, hazardous working conditions, the unlawful appropriation of farmland, or harmful effects on vulnerable ecosystems.

The Dutch NCP, responsible for promoting the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises, have been asked occasionally, to do a prescan of the Agreements to check if they are 'OECD Guidelines proof'.

Why conclude IRBC agreements?

In 2014, with broad support in political circles and from the Dutch Government, Dutch employers and employees began to negotiate International Responsible Business Conduct  agreements at sector level. Such agreements -based on the OECD Guidelines for mne's- give businesses the opportunity to extend their influence by collaborating with government, trade unions and NGOs in structured, problem-solving approaches to complex issues.

The agreements have two main goals: 

  1. The first is to improve circumstances for groups affected by specific risks (e.g. child labour, low wages, human rights violations or environmental pollution) within a period of three to five years after an agreement has been concluded.
  2. The second is to offer a collective solution to problems that businesses are unable to solve, or solve entirely, on their own.

Support for these voluntary agreements is broad. Sectors are themselves initiating negotiations with NGOs, trade unions and government. Agreements have already been concluded in various sectors, and more are currently being negotiated.