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Norwegian NCP for OECD Guidelines performs strongly according to Peer Review

The Norwegian National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines) is considered 'highly effective at fulfilling its mandate' in the two and half years since the NCP was restructured into an independent body of experts. This is concluded by its peers from Canada, Colombia, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

 

For the Peer Review report, please click here.

 

Reaction by OECD Watch

Among the peer review team’s many findings, the manner in which the NCP’s four‑member expert panel is chosen was found to have cultivated a strong sense of ownership of the NCP among stakeholders.

Importance of stakeholders’ influence

The NCP’s expert panel is appointed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry based on nominations made by the Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM) on behalf of civil society, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise.

Gunhild Ørstavik, a senior advisor at ForUM who actively participated in the peer review process commented, “We agree and support the main findings of the peer review, and appreciate that many of our recommendations have been taken into account.  These findings should once and for all put to rest the misguided view held by some that stakeholders’ influence in the NCP nomination process should be reduced”.

NCP performance substantially improved

The peer review team also found that the NCP’s performance “has improved substantially since the shift to an independent structure”. The team highlighted three key factors that have contributed this improvement: 1) the expert panel members’ integrity, credibility and skill; 2) the existence of a Secretariat and the staff members’ competency; and 3) dedicated financial resources, which are appropriated by the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  However, the team noted that the NCP’s independence comes with the potential risk of isolation from the government, which could diminish its convening power.

The team reported that the NCP’s strong performance in terms of promotional and visibility efforts was widely acknowledged to have led to “a great leap forward in business awareness of the Guidelines” in Norway.  However, the NCP’s independence from the government has also made “the task of promoting the Guidelines within and across government departments, agencies and ministries that much more challenging”.  For this reason, the team recommended that the NCP develop a specific promotional strategy towards government.

Human and financial resources for promotion

OECD Watch coordinator Joseph Wilde-Ramsing said, “This review further validates one of OECD Watch’s long-standing views that truly effective NCP promotion requires a strong commitment, multifaceted strategies and appropriate financial and human resources.  Even a top performer like the Norwegian NCP has encountered challenges in keeping up with promotion when handling multiple specific instances.  This is why the review team recommended the government provide adequate and dedicated human and financial resources for promotion”.

Challenges

In terms of the NCP’s handling of specific instances, the team rightly observed that affected stakeholders’ direct access to the NCP continues to be a challenge as most complaints are brought by domestic organisations on behalf of the impacted parties.  Among its recommendations, the team noted that “enhanced cooperation between home and host country NCPs may prove to be the most effective way to ensure meaningful and direct access to NCP processes”.  In addition, the reviewers recommended that the NCP develop further guidance on following-up on specific instances, so parties to the case reach “sustainable resolutions”.

Norway’s NCP is the second to undertake a voluntary peer review since the Guidelines were updated in May 2011.  The NCP’s new structure took effect in March 2011, and the peer review was conducted in October 2013.  A government review of the NCP is planned in 2014.  The peer review report is available for download via the link below.