Switzerland: Council of States to decide on binding human rights protection for Swiss co. & their supply chains
Author: Juliane Kippenberg, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 13 February 2019
'A brilliant opportunity for the gold sector', 12 Feb 2019
In the coming weeks, Switzerland’s Council of States has a big decision to take: should Swiss companies be required to introduce human rights and environmental safeguards for their global actions? This month, prompted by pressure from a civil society initiative on Responsible Business, it will consider a bill to do just that.
Swiss businesses often source their commodities and products from far-flung countries, which puts them at risk of getting caught up in human rights abuses. One example is the supply chain for gold: again and again, human rights abuses are revealed in the gold sector. A report by the Swiss government recently confirmed that the gold mining industry can cause significant harm. [...]
Switzerland now has the opportunity to make companies in all sectors responsible for their actions. In June 2018, the National Council passed a bill obliging larger companies based in Switzerland to ensure that their activities abroad respect human rights and the environment. To comply with this, companies need to conduct human rights due diligence. In particularly grave circumstances, companies can also be held liable for the actions of subsidiaries. The National Council adopted the bill in response to the Responsible Business Initiative, a civil society initiative for a corporate responsibility law. The bill reflects key elements proposed by the Responsible Business Initiative, though it is not as comprehensive as the initiative on some issues. [...]
As long as governments leave it up to companies to take voluntary steps, systematic human rights due diligence by companies will remain the exception.
[Also refers to Rolex, Chopard, Harry Winston (part of Swatch)]