In the 1960s and 1970s, the activities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) provoked intense discussions that resulted in efforts to draw up international instruments for regulating their conduct and defining the terms of their relations with host countries, mostly in the developing world. Labour-related and social policy issues were among those concerns to which the activities of MNEs gave rise. The ILO’s search for international guidelines in its sphere of competence resulted, in 1977, in the adoption by the ILO Governing Body, of the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration).
The principles laid down in this universal instrument offer guidelines to MNEs, governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations in such areas as employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations. Its provisions are reinforced by certain international labour Conventions and Recommendations which the social partners are urged to bear in mind and apply, to the greatest extent possible. The adoption of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up in 1998 highlighted the importance of the fundamental Conventions in realizing the objectives of the ILO, and consequently, the MNE Declaration takes into account the objectives of the 1998 Declaration.