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13 Mar 2019

Jessica Davis Plüss and Andrea Tognina, Swissinfo

Switzerland: Responsible business initiative heads closer to public vote as Council of States rejects counter-proposal

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"Responsible business initiative heads closer to a national vote", 12 March 2019

On Tuesday, the Senate, with a vote of 22 to 20, rejected discussion of the counter-proposal on responsible business put forward by the House of Representatives. It also rejected the popular initiative launched last year by a coalition of NGOs by a vote of 25 to 14.

With this decision, the counter-proposal heads back to the House of Representatives, which had voted to support it after some revisions. The next steps are unclear though. It is probable that the initiative could go to a nationwide public vote. 

The so-called "Responsible Business Initiative" seeks to oblige companies based in Switzerland to assess the impact of their activities and those of subsidiaries on human rights and the environment at home and abroad. Swiss-based companies failing to exercise appropriate due diligence could be liable for damages...

The counter-proposal presented to the Senate does not go as far as the original initiative in terms of liability...

This was not enough to convince certain economic associations in the country though...