Member governments of the OECD should bring investors and trade unions together with multinationals operating in Qatar to hammer out remedies to human rights abuses and respond to the deaths of hundreds of workers involved in the country’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the trades union representative (TUAC) to the OECD has said. The call, which comes with a reference list of tens of multinationals that are operating in Qatar, comes ahead of today’s (June 25) 15th Meeting of the OECD member states’ independent National Contact Points (NCPs), which are housed within national governments and have responsibility for implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the global, multilateral standards that governments have committed to promoting on issues such as human rights, employment relations, corruption and the environment. The Guidelines are the only government backed instrument on responsible business conduct with a built in grievance mechanism for investigating potential abuses. The Guidelines have already impacted investors including Dutch pension fund manager APG and Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) over minority shareholdings in the same company, South Korea-based POSCO, and its controversial plans to build a combined steel and power plant in Odisha, India, which NGOs claimed via the OECD Guidelines grievance mechanism could lead to the displacement of around 22,000 people. Link to RI article
A major report commissioned by Qatar and published last month by international law firm DLA Piper said hundreds of migrants had died at a rate of more than one a day over the past two years, many from unexplained suddenillness, as Qatar engages in huge building projects for the World Cup. The report also called for changes to the kafala system that ties workers to their employers. There have been calls for Qatar to be stripped of the World Cup over the scandal. TUAC said the NCPs should issue a statement to companies with operations in Qatar calling on them to respect the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO MNE Declaration and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and announce their collective commitment to work with them on this. It said the NCPs should also act as convenor for the investor/multinationals/trade unions meetings to address the human rights violations in Qatar. The OECD is holding a major conference on the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in Paris this week.
Separately, the OECD has published a statement correcting what it says are “inaccurate reports” that the body is investigating G4S, the UK security firm, over operations in Israel. It said the UK NCP, not the OECD itself, was looking into the complaint, which has been lodged via the Multinational Guidelines grievance mechanism by a group called Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR). The initial assessment of the UK NCP on the G4S complaint can be found here.
The OECD said: “Accepting issues for further examination in a procedure by a National Contact Point doesn’t mean that the company has acted inconsistently with the OECD Guidelines.”