International Responsible Business Conduct: background

In the Netherlands, we expect companies to transact business in a way that respects human rights and the environment, and not just in our own country, but abroad too. The rights and duties of companies are enshrined in international rules drawn up by the United Nations and the OECD, among others.

Risks remain

The process of globalisation means that some risks remain, however. The public is also taking a greater interest in international responsible business conduct. In 2014, the SER recommended concluding multistakeholder agreements promoting international responsible business conduct (IRBC agreements) in each sector. Besides businesses, in other words, government, NGOs and unions would also be parties to such agreements. The SER gave examples of how to conclude an IRBC agreement.

In the agreement, the parties identify the problems that arise in the sector. They then describe how they intend to prevent abuses, for example exploitation, and what each of the parties will do to work towards that aim. The organisations and businesses that sign the agreement commit to complying with these arrangements.

Massive response

Many relevant organisations and businesses have heeded the SER’s call. There are now IRBC agreements in the garments and textile, banking, and gold sectors. Other agreements are being negotiated. The SER assists in the negotiations leading up to the agreements.

Are you interested in signing one of the agreements? Please contact us.