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Swiss firms could be held to account for actions abroad

Swiss companies must comply with human rights and environmental standards when they operate abroad – or be brought to account before Swiss courts. This is the demand of the Corporate Responsibility people’s initiative...A coalition of 80 non-governmental organisations and trade unions are backing the initiative that would make all Swiss companies responsible for conducting due diligence for their activities in any part of the world...It has gathered 120,000 signatures...According to the text, Swiss companies operating abroad have to respect internationally recognised human rights, and international environmental standards. In addition, they must ensure that companies that they control also apply by these standards...In recent years, watchdog groups have publicised cases of some Swiss companies not living up to their corporate responsibilities...According to the text of the initiative, victims of human rights and environmental abuses would be allowed to seek damages from companies in Swiss courts.  But firms will not be held liable if they can prove they fulfilled their duty of care...both government and parliament have until now refused to enact binding rules on the overseas operations of Swiss-based companies, preferring instead to allow firms to self-regulate with voluntary measures...

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