Multinational: Programs & Policies


Last updated: June 27, 2013

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organization that currently has 30 member countries. OECD’s objectives and activities primarily involve policy development and harmonization on a broad range of topics of international economic importance.

The Convention on the OECD, first ratified in 1961, defines the OECD’s mission as follows:

  • Support economic growth
  • Boost employment
  • Raise living standards
  • Maintain financial stability
  • Assist other countries’ economic development
  • Contribute to growth in world trade

The OECD’s major work areas are:

  • Employment, education, social welfare
  • Economy
  • Environment, sustainable development
  • Finance
  • Governance
  • Innovation

OECD member countries are relatively affluent and democratic and include countries in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Observers from several nonmember countries and interested international organizations also attend OECD meetings.

The OECD maintains relationships with business and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as about 70 nonmember countries. The OECD engages with civil society organizations, including the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), and maintains official relationships with other international organizations. An example would be the International Council for Animal Protection in OECD Programmes (ICAPO), an NGO officially recognized by the OECD that represents animal protection interests within OECD’s test guidelines program.

The OECD is administered by a secretariat in Paris, France. The OECD Council, made up of a delegate from each member country and from the European Commission, is the decision-making body of the OECD. The head of the secretariat (the secretary-general) also chairs the Council. Representatives of member countries form committees, working groups, and expert groups to “request, review, and contribute to” projects of mutual interest in specific policy areas. The work of the committees, as decided and prioritized by the Council, is coordinated by the OECD Secretariat. The OECD produces more than 150 publications per year as the primary method for communicating these committees’ work and output.

Test Guidelines

The OECD Health Effects Test Guidelines provide guidance on the key toxicity tests that are used worldwide. These guidelines are now available for free download. Draft Test Guidelines open for comment, or awaiting approval or publication, are provided here.

The OECD Guidance & Review Documents include additional test guidance as well as environmental monographs.