04 June 2018
OECD Week 2018
OECD Membership and the
Values of the Organisation
Paris, 28 May 2018
Becoming a member of the OECD is a complex procedure which goes beyond signing its founding Convention. Countries wishing to become OECD members must demonstrate a “readiness” and a “commitment” to adhere to essentially two fundamental requirements: (i) democratic societies committed to rule of law and protection of human rights; and (ii) open, transparent and free-market economies.
OECD criteria membership has been addressed by several OECD Ministerial Council Meetings (MCMs). At the MCM 2017, the OECD adopted a Framework for Consideration of Prospective Members. The Framework requires adherence, “progress towards” adherence and/or membership of a dozen OECD rules-based market instruments (on tax avoidance and tax evasion, corporate governance, foreign investor protection, etc.). By contrast, the Framework offers only an indicative list of indicators to measure the country’s commitment to OECD values on rule of law, public integrity and human rights.
The current Framework for prospective members could be improved by (i) ensuring the current list of indicators are effectively taken on board, not treated as an indicative list and (ii) adding additional criteria to assess a Prospective Members’ performance on workers’ rights.
In this paper, the indicative list of the Framework, plus two additional workers’ rights- related indices are applied to current members of the OECD and to countries that are, or may in the future be, involved in an OECD accession process.
The outcome suggests that several countries, including current Members, would perform poorly if such an enhanced Framework were to be applied, and that indeed some Member Countries perform poorly under the existing Framework.
Accordingly, future pre-accession processes should rigidly apply criteria on rule of law, human and labour rights. The findings of this paper also indicate that there is a need for the Organisation to give much greater priority to issues concerning the effective rule of law and the observance of human rights.
Opportunity should be given to trade unions, other civil society organisations of Prospective Members, and the OECD’s institutional stakeholders, including the TUAC, to provide inputs in the pre-accession phase and beyond, on issues related to the rule of law and respect for human rights, ensuring that these inputs are taken into account.