Swiss companies can breathe a sigh of relief. On Sunday, the Swiss voted against two popular initiatives that had strict rules for companies. According to media reports, the so-called social responsibility initiative at the polls has narrowly failed. On the other hand, it was clear that not the “ban on financing manufacturers of war materials”.
The CSR initiative has established extensive responsibility for Swiss companies in international trade, which would give Switzerland one of the strictest rules in international comparison. According to the initiative, this liability of Swiss companies should be extended to damages caused by the company they control.
Victims of human rights violations and environmental pollution could sue Swiss companies in the Confederacy. Dick Marty, co-chair of the popular initiative “For Responsible Societies – Protecting People and the Environment”, issued the slogan: “Those who rely on child labor or destroy the environment should take responsibility for it.” , Social Democrats, Churches and a number of NGOs.
Corporations feared a wave of litigation
The government, parliament and business associations have rejected the initiative. Resistance has been offered by multinational corporations such as commodity giant Glencore. They are afraid of waves of litigation. The government and parliament have submitted a more lenient counter-proposal to the CSR initiative; this proposal will now enter into force. The concept sets out new reporting and due diligence obligations for companies. Violation is punishable by fines.
The Confederacy also rejected the “War Deals initiative.” The pacifists behind this initiative wanted to turn off money in the arms industry. In particular, the Swiss National Bank, foundations and pension institutions should be prohibited from financing arms companies, for example by purchasing shares. In addition, the Swiss government and parliament should insist that “banks and insurance companies are subject to” appropriate conditions “. Companies that generate more than five percent of their annual turnover in the production of armaments were considered producers of war material. The government and parliament rejected the plan.