Swiss responsible business initiative narrowly lost referendum


50. 7 percent of Swiss voters nationwide voted in favor of the “responsible business initiative,” a proposal to hold corporations liable for human rights and environmental abuses which were the result of their business activities. 

However, despite gaining a narrow majority from voters, it failed to win support in a majority of Swiss cantons. It was reported that while the initiative obtained popular majority in the whole country, it failed on regional grounds. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson expressed regret with the result of the Swiss referendum, but welcomed the popular majority support the initiative received from Swiss voters. 

“While the result of the referendum is regretful, we recognise the silver lining in this process. The initiative won the support of the popular majority. It is now a household name. It broadened its support among many politicians and entrepreneurs, and enjoys the backing of 130 civil society organisations. This would have been unimaginable a few years ago,” Yuson said. 

“The initiative’s votes echo the voices of the popular majority who have spoken out on the need to make multinationals accountable for their actions. It is now up to the Swiss Parliament to ensure that these corporations are committed to the highest standards of human and labour rights, and environmental protection,” Yuson concluded. 

The Responsible Business Initiative aims to allow victims of human rights and environmental abuses to sue Swiss-based companies in Swiss courts. The companies are compelled to demonstrate that they had taken all necessary measures to prevent any violations.