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Responsible Business debate could cause ripple effects globally

A decision by the Swiss parliament this week on an initiative to hold companies accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment could send a message on how far governments are willing to go...

The Initiative is part of a wider trend to embed corporate respect for human rights into hard law since the launch of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rightsexternal link in 2011...

An emerging area of national law is corporate liability and access to justice for victims, some of the most controversial pieces of the Swiss Initiative...

The shift to hard law also stems from skepticism about voluntary initiatives. “If you look at the news, there remain persistent human rights violations by companies. It isn’t working for companies to regulate themselves. What is needed is something that has teeth..." ...

Perhaps even more important is the precedent the initiative sets for other countries and the statement it makes about Switzerland’s position on protecting human rights, especially given the high concentration of multinational companies in the country.

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