Strategy to Improve big Swiss Companies’ Accountability fails in referendum

GENEVA — A proposal that might have stiffened penalties against businesses based in Switzerland when they violate human rights or damage the surroundings overseas failed at a Swiss referendum on Sunday.

The initiative titled”Responsible businesses — to safeguard individuals and the surroundings ” won a large majority of votes with 50.7percent percent financing it and 49.3% against it, but failed since the vast majority of the nation’s cantons, or states, came out from it. Support was strongest in metropolitan areas, a lot of Switzerland’s French-speaking west and west Italian-speaking Ticino.

The Swiss held two additional referendums this season, but one in May was postponed on account of this COVID-19 pandemic.

The national authorities compared the strategy championed by left-leaning classes and a few large civil society associations, claiming that it moved too far. Parliament has suggested a countermeasure which would also boost evaluation of these firms’ actions.

The measure might have made big Switzerland-based companies accountable in the nation’s courts due to their faulty operations or those of the subsidiaries and subcontractors in overseas states unless they could prove that they ran appropriate due diligence ahead.

It might have required Swiss-based firms to better confirm their actions in foreign nations and may have made them liable for any harm caused. It might have influenced multinationals like minerals and mining firm Glencore, agribusiness company Syngenta, and cement company LafargeHolcim — that have sometimes faced criticism over their actions overseas.

Parliament’s choice, which should take effect rather, will not require organizations to respond to Swiss courts and will concentrate on problems such as mining of minerals from battle zones or child labor. Additionally, it seeks more collaboration among countries on these matters.