Home Today Plan to Maintain Companies Accountable for Violations Overseas Fails in Switzerland

Plan to Maintain Companies Accountable for Violations Overseas Fails in Switzerland


ZURICH — A proposal in Switzerland to make multinational corporations headquartered within the nation liable for human rights violations and environmental damage dedicated by their subsidiaries overseas failed in a referendum on Sunday.

The initiative gained a slim majority amongst voters, with 50.7 p.c backing it, however failed as a result of a majority of the nation’s cantons, or states, rejected it. Below the Swiss system, as a result of the initiative proposed a constitutional modification, it wanted the backing of each a preferred majority and a majority of cantons to move.

The initiative, promoted by a coalition of over 130 civil society organizations, had confronted robust opposition from the enterprise sector and the federal government, which feared that the foundations would harm Swiss corporations amid an financial slowdown linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the initiative rejected, milder laws put ahead by the federal government is predicted to come back into impact. That laws additionally contains due diligence and reporting necessities, however stops wanting holding Swiss mother or father corporations answerable for rights violations and environmental harm that happen overseas.

The legislation, which is predicted to come back into drive inside the subsequent two years, is weaker than these in another European nations. Britain and France are among the many international locations which have handed legal responsibility legal guidelines linked to company social duty.

The vote on Sunday had been the supply of a lot debate in Switzerland, and was the most expensive within the nation’s historical past, in keeping with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

The initiative’s backers had focused the commodity buying and selling trade as a selected space of concern. The sector has a powerful presence in Switzerland, using 35,000 individuals.

However because the day of the referendum grew nearer, the enterprise sector intensified its opposition to the proposed laws. Quite a few executives at multinationals spoke out in opposition to it, and corporations took out full-page commercials in Swiss newspapers urging individuals to reject the proposal.

The response from the enterprise sector in Switzerland was largely certainly one of reduction. Roberto Colonnello, who led the “no” marketing campaign for the Swiss enterprise federation, Economiesuisse, mentioned that, “Switzerland has spoken out in opposition to the overregulation of all our corporations.”

He mentioned that the milder authorities proposal would go far sufficient and that it included “probably the most superior devices in opposition to youngster labor and the financing of battle minerals.”

“It additionally offers corporations with the urgently wanted authorized certainty,” Mr. Colonnello added, referring to the outcome.

Andreas Missbach, director of Public Eye, one of many organizations behind the initiative, mentioned it was a disgrace that the more durable proposals didn’t move, contemplating {that a} majority of Swiss voters have been in favor.

He added that the government-backed laws was inadequate. “The counterproposal doesn’t actually carry us something aside from extra shiny company sustainability experiences,” he mentioned. “The issues are nonetheless right here; they don’t seem to be going away.”

Individually on Sunday, an initiative on the financing of weapon producers additionally failed. The proposal would have prevented Swiss establishments, together with the central financial institution, from investing in corporations producing greater than 5 p.c of their income from the manufacturing of conflict supplies.


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