Swiss Campaign for Corporate Justice launched
More than 50 Swiss organizations launched a campaign for Corporate Justice in early November. They are calling on the government and parliament for binding rules to ensure that companies headquartered in Switzerland observe human rights and environmental standards worldwide.
Whether Glencore in the Congo, Triumph in Thailand, Holcim in Guatemala or Trafigura in Côte d'Ivoire – Swiss companies are repeatedly coming into conflict with human rights and environmental standards in the course of their activities abroad.
In response to pressure from public campaigns in recent years many companies have indeed adopted regulations for socially and environmentally responsible behaviour or have signed international guidelines like the Global Compact. Yet that is not enough to prevent human rights abuses and environmental destruction. These initiatives are often only about acquiring a social or a green image. Implementation depends on the goodwill of companies. Control and sanction mechanisms are either absent or very weakly formulated.
Swiss campaign for binding measures
Over 50 human rights organizations and aid agencies, trade unions and environmental groups, women’s associations and critical shareholders’ associations are calling on the Swiss government and parliament for binding measures. They have submitted a petition demanding legal provisions that require companies with headquarters in Switzerland, their subsidiaries and their suppliers to observe human rights and environmental standards worldwide.
Switzerland – a haven for multinationals
As a „haven for multinationals“ Switzerland bears special responsibility when it comes to corporate behaviour and human rights. On a per capita basis the country has the highest number of internationally active firms. Alongside well-known and long-established companies like Nestle, ABB or Novartis, a steadily growing number of corporate immigrants are operating out of Switzerland, taking advantage of the low taxes and the prevailing discretion. A higher-than-average number of recent arrivals are operating in the commodities sector, where the risk of human rights abuses and environmental degradation is particularly high. Today, Geneva and Zug are global centres in the world commodities trade. But even private security firms like Aegis have discovered the advantages offered by Switzerland.
Pepo Hofstetter, Alliance Sud / Swiss Alliance of Development Organisations
For more information (in French or German) see: Swiss Campaign for Corporate Justice