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US News Switzerland: a referendum to force multinationals to respect human rights

03:15  29 november  2020
03:15  29 november  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Swiss voters are about to decide whether a business should be held liable for human rights and environmental abuses, even if the wrongdoing was The question has divided the country ahead of a referendum on Sunday, and it could have far-reaching consequences for multinational firms like

in respecting human rights . All these themes are connected together through their desire to is an effective way of regulating human rights abuses by forcing companies to broaden their business. develop a set of laws that would oblige multinational companies to respect human rights in business.

Les Suisses doivent voter sur un référendum qui pourrait obliger les multinationales basées en Suisse à respecter les droits de l'homme et de l'environnement et de répondre juridiquement de leurs actes, même à l'étranger. Ici, un des sites parisiens du cimentier Lafarge, soupçonné d'avoir jeté des résidus dans la Seine, le 3 septembre 2020. © REUTERS - Charles Platiau The Swiss must vote on a referendum that could force multinationals based in Switzerland to respect human rights and environment and to respond legally for their actions, even abroad. Here, one of the Parisian sites of the cement manufacturer Lafarge, suspected of having thrown residues in the Seine, on September 3, 2020.

Among the referendums put to a vote on Sunday, November 29, the Swiss will have to vote on a federal initiative that would require multinationals based in their country that they respect human and environmental rights under penalty of legal action. Either a jurisdiction that would apply for their subsidiaries abroad and their breaches.

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progressively speak the human rights language and human rights issues are becoming central to. MNEs’ CSR agenda. At the same time, infringements on human rights A moral account of the duty of TNCs to respect basic human rights is defended and contrasted with a merely strategic approach.

The right of foreigners to vote in Switzerland is an ongoing political issue in the country. Switzerland is a federal nation. As such, the cantons have extensive powers to enact their own legislation

This Swiss popular initiative would oblige multinationals to be responsible, having to respond to possible breaches before the courts in Switzerland, in matters of human rights and the environment.

As an example, the defenders of this text point to the discharge of fine particles from an cement plant of Lafarge in Nigeria. Or the Swiss mining giant Glencore , responsible for serious pollution with dramatic health consequences in several countries.

If this initiative is approved, the victims of Glencore violations, many in South America and Africa, could demand redress in Switzerland.

The fact remains that the Parliament and the Federal Council believe that this text goes too far and would cause serious economic consequences for the country. They therefore recommend that the Swiss reject it.

In response, Parliament drew up a counter-draft with less strict rules. This project will be put on the legislative table if the voters reject the first text in this referendum.

See also : Switzerland at the polls for a referendum on the financing of the arms industry

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