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26 Mär 2018

John Ruggie, Shift

John Ruggie weighs in on Swiss debate on mandatory human rights due diligence

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"The New Normal of Human Rights Due Diligence," 22 March 2018

With great respect, I was... disappointed that the Swiss Government decided not to put forward a counter-proposal to the referendum Initiative on responsible business conduct. The subject is of immense importance for major Swiss companies and for Switzerland’s own national brand. At the same time, I am pleased that the Groupement des Enterprises Multinationales (GEM), which represents over 90 multinational companies, has taken a constructive position on the Initiative... Human rights due diligence throughout the value chain is the most effective tool for companies to avoid involvement in human rights harm. 

... Switzerland would not be alone by undertaking progressive change in this space; indeed, it risks falling behind. Anti-slavery legislation has been adopted in a number of jurisdictions, ... France has adopted a “due vigilance” law. Canada has just established the office of ombudsperson with authority to compel witnesses and documentation from Canadian companies operating overseas that have been accused of human rights violations. The new German government... will require companies to have human rights due diligence measures in place if, by 2020, fewer than half of German companies with more than 500 employees have not adopted them.