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close this bookA Comparison of Self-Evaluating State Reporting Systems (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1995, 63 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Organization of the OECD
View the document3.2 Reporting mechanisms
View the document3.3 Conclusion

3.3 Conclusion

In principle, the reporting procedures of the OECD are voluntary. However, the Organization admits a State only after it has made sure that it fits into the “working tradition/atmosphere” of the OECD. This means that failure to report as agreed is frowned upon. Compliance with the reporting procedure is guaranteed not by official regulations, but by unofficial peer pressure. When a member country fails to produce an expected assessment report, the Council will continue to ask for the reasons.

States also send all statistical information produced by their ministries to the OECD, which processes it. Non-compliance, therefore, cannot be hidden. Furthermore, field missions can be sent to a country, and the OECD sponsors research on specific topics (e.g., agriculture) in a Member State. In this way the OECD remains constantly aware of the most recent trends and the best possible reactions to them.

The ultimate aim of the reports is economic development, which is not a sensitive issue. Every country wants to learn more on how to achieve economic growth, and information is shared willingly. Policy meetings are conducted at ministerial level or just below. This makes for easy implementation, when decisions have been taken.

Meetings are in general confidential; only some reports of committees are published. The results of the reporting procedures are usually stated only in general terms. The confidentiality encourages openness in States that might not want to share some policies with the press. The OECD does not wish States to report when there are elections, since in the past OECD reports have been used in campaigns, a practice of which the Organization strongly disapproves.

The OECD puts a lot of effort into a small number of countries. It works in a very concentrated field, not a broad one such as that of the Human Rights Conventions. It works closely, when it so chooses, with all kinds of related international organizations. It does not hesitate to establis regional units to keep the original entity small and workable. This might explain the 150 committees, working groups and agencies that form part of the OECD.

The reporting procedures for the OECD appear, at first glance, to be extremely successful in their goal of implementing the planned recommendations. However, some comment is called for. First, the recommendations that the OECD makes and tries to implement are usually not very far-reaching, and often States have already decided to do something about the issue. It is not really the OECD that initiates innovative actions. Second, the amount of attention focused on countries that have to report is tremendous: for each reporting country and each working group there are two procedures to check implementation, backed up by studies of the newest developments in the field and the possibility of on-site inspections. These enormous efforts explain the size of the OECD, and the size of its budget. It is an effective body, but it functions at high cost.