Human rights violations committed by multinationals in Switzerland regularly make the headlines: inhumane working conditions, child labor and pollution from mines. An initiative seeks to put an end to these inacceptable practices.
The scandals that have come to the fore in recent years show that voluntary measures no longer suffice. Switzerland, where multinationals have established their headquarters, bears some responsibility in setting a benchmark.
TRIAL International has fought for years against the impunity of corporations in the area of human rights. It has denounced the abuses of Argor-Heraeus and Caterpillar.
Voluntary measures are not enough
To increase accountability for multinationals, an initiative driven by a coalition of NGOs, including TRIAL, seeks to introduce a bill requiring due diligence on their part.
The bill will require companies to check if their activities abroad lead to human rights violations or harm the environment and to document all remedial actions they undertake.
Corporations in breach of their duties of due diligence could be held accountable for their acts of omission or commission in a Swiss court. The ensuing financial consequences and damages to their corporate image could sway most corporations to take appropriate measures and take responsibility for all of their activities.