Other complaint mechanisms

International Financial Institutions

International financial institutions – primarily banks – have set up independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) in response to demands for greater public accountability.   They provide a means of recourse for people who believe they have been harmed by projects financed by these banks due to the failure to apply appropriate operational standards, procedures, and safeguards.  While the IAMs of the various banks differ in the way they process complaints, all provide an independent body to investigate compliance issues and address social and environmental harm at the project level. They include the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism of the Inter-American Development Bank and two for the World Bank, depending on the type of funding – the Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. Click here to see a list of banks and their IAMs.


OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is a global organisation composed of member states. Its guidelines contain recommendations for corporations to fulfil human and labour rights as well as adhere to regulations on environmental protection, consumer protection, corruption, taxation and disclosure of information. These recommendations only apply to companies whose headquarters are located in a state that has adopted the Guidelines – this includes the 34 members of the OECD plus 12 non-members. Complaints can therefore only be brought against companies whose headquarters are in those countries, but they include many which are active in Latin America. 

Any affected person or group can file a complaint against a company which fails to abide by the Guidelines. Guidance on the procedure to be followed is available from page 71 (See also the explanatory brochure on the Guidelines). Every state which has adopted the Guidelines is obliged to create a ‘National Contact Point’ (NCP), to receive the complaints. If a complaint is filed against a company and is accepted for further examination, the NCP opens a consultation process and attempts to mediate between the parties. If this fails, the NCP can issue a final statement. This is not a legal process and in these statements the NCP does not have to clearly assign responsibility and can not impose any sanctions. On the other hand, the statement often contains recommendations for the implementation of the Guidelines by the company subject to the complaint.