Guide shows how civil society can influence the OECD accession process

The publication also explains the three stages of the “opaque, technical and political process for joining” to the so-called “rich nations club”; download below

Sede da OCDE em Paris (Foto: Hervé Cortinat/ OECD)
Sede da OCDE em Paris (Foto: Hervé Cortinat/ OECD)

Civil society organizations have launched a guide showing the possible ways for organizations to influence the process for countries to accede to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), by giving visibility to the human rights and social and environmental rights agendas. The guide can be downloaded at this link

The “Civil society guide to influencing the OECD accession process” was produced by OECD Watch, Conectas and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). The guide will be launched shortly after the OECD announces that it will start discussions for the accession of Brazil and another five countries. 

OECD accession process

The document separates the process into three parts: pre-accession, accession and post-accession. It also highlights the key leverage moments in each stage. The first part consists of a political debate about whether a candidate country will be invited to start the accession process. These debates occur behind closed doors and are highly political, which is why civil society has little influence in this stage of the process. 

The second part – accession – is the stage in which Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia have recently embarked. At this point, civil society can participate by sending letters to policy-makers, holding press events and requesting permission from the OECD to attend and be part of any accession launch event.

At this stage, committees begin a technical review of compliance by candidate countries with OECD instruments, standards and values. The committees frequently ask States to make major reforms to be considered ready for accession.

Finally, in the post-accession stage, if any committee establishes post-entry requirements for the candidate country, the new member must observe them and report back to the committee. Civil society can participate in this stage by tracking the State’s progress on these requirements and also by suggesting measures that the new member should take to bring itself into alignment.

The guide can help civil society understand the OECD accession process and influence the OECD member states and committees to demand reforms that strengthen the protection of the environment and human rights in candidate countries. 

The OECD is an intergovernmental organization focused on promoting free trade and open markets around the world. It is currently formed by 36 countries. The organization assists in the development of its member countries and promotes actions aimed at financial stability and the improvement of social indicators.

Recently, the OECD has attached great value to the “preservation of nature and the like” by its member states, which suggests a possible change in the accession process that has traditionally been focused on the mere liberalization of investment markets.

Candidate countries wishing to join the OECD must prove themselves “willing, prepared and able to adopt OECD practices, policies and standards” across a wide range of governance areas. 

Social and environmental commitments 

Although entry into the OECD has been one of the main platforms of the Bolsonaro government’s foreign policy, the country has not complied with a number of requests made by the organization, including problems on the environmental, social and climate agenda. In July 2021, the OECD’s own Environmental Policy Committee published a report, translated into Portuguese by Conectas, which shows the extent of Brazil’s alignment with some of its legal instruments. Following the announcement of the start of the accession process, this report could serve as a basis for the assessment of Brazil’s candidacy.

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The OECD report concludes that Brazil needs to be firm in its goals to guide its environmental actions. “It is important to highlight that Brazil is making limited progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2015 EPR (Environmental Performance Review). Hence, with a few exceptions, these recommendations remain valid. This means that Brazil’s federal government needs to better engage its executive agencies as well as state and local officials to accelerate advancements in the implementation of good OECD practices in the country.”

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