What is the ILO MNE Declaration?

“The MNE Declaration provides clear guidance on how enterprises can contribute through their operations worldwide to the realization of decent work.
Its recommendations rooted in international labour standards reflect good practices for all enterprises but also highlight the role of government in stimulating good corporate behaviour as well as the crucial role of social dialogue.”
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

The Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration) is the ILO instrument that provides direct guidance to enterprises on social policy and inclusive, responsible and sustainable workplace practices. The aim of this Declaration is to encourage the positive contribution which multinational enterprises can make to economic and social progress and the realization of decent work for all; and to minimize and resolve the difficulties to which their various operations may give rise. These principles do not aim at introducing or maintaining inequalities of treatment between multinational and national enterprises. They reflect good practice for all. Multinational and national enterprises, wherever the principles of the MNE Declaration are relevant to both, should be subject to the same expectations in respect of their conduct in general and their social practices in particular.

Its principles are addressed to MNEs, governments of home and host countries, and employers’ and workers’ organizations and cover areas such as employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations as well as general policies.

1. General policies
2. Employment
• Employment promotion
• Social security
• Elimination of forced or compulsory labour
• Effective abolition of child labour: minimum age and worst forms
• Equality of opportunity and treatment
• Security of employment
3. Training
4. Conditions of work and life
• Wages, benefits and conditions of work
• Safety and health
5. Industrial relations
• Freedom of association and the right to organize
• Collective bargaining
• Consultation
• Access to remedy and examination of grievances

The guidance is founded substantially on principles contained in international labour standards (ILO conventions and recommendations listed in Annex I of the instrument), and on obligations that States have through their ILO membership and following their ratification of ILO conventions.

The MNE Declaration highlights the importance of the rule of law, law enforcement and social dialogue and recalls that all parties should respect workers’ rights and contribute to the realization of the fundamental principles and rights at work. It emphasizes the importance of dialogue and consultations among the different parties to ensure inclusive, sustainable, responsible business behaviour of MNEs in host countries and compatibility with national development objectives and policies. It encourages home and host country governments of MNEs to engage in consultations with each other as well as with their enterprises on social and labour policy.

The MNE Declaration is the only global instrument in this area that was elaborated and adopted by governments, employers’ and workers from around the world. Adopted by the Governing Body of the ILO at its 204th session (Geneva, November 1977), the instrument was amended several times. It was last amended in March 2017 following a tripartite review process to respond to new economic realities and to take into account developments since the last update in 2006. These developments included new labour standards and policy outcomes adopted by the International Labour Conference, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The revision has enriched the MNE Declaration by strengthening and adding principles addressing specific decent work issues related to social security, forced labour, transition from the informal to the formal economy, wages, safety and health, access to remedy and compensation of victims. And by outlining the different roles that different actors have in achieving the aim of the MNE Declaration, aligned with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework.

To stimulate the uptake of the principles of the MNE Declaration by the various parties, the Governing Body has also adopted a number of operational tools that are listed in Annex II of the MNE Declaration. The MNE Declaration is influencing and guiding policies of international and regional organizations, national governments, multi-stakeholder initiatives as well as policies and codes of enterprises of all sizes.

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