World The Swiss reject an initiative for more responsible multinationals

03:15  30 november  2020
03:15  30 november  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan to impose stricter business responsibility regulation on More than 29,000 multinational companies call Switzerland home, which creates jobs for about a Neither the Swiss parliament or government supported the initiative , saying it went "to far," it added.

Supporters of the rejected initiative plastered Swiss towns and cities with posters highlighting environmental degradation and human suffering Multinationals are important drivers of the Swiss economy, which at the end of 2018 counted close to 29,000 such corporations, accounting for more

Les électeurs suisses ont rejeté une initiative qui souhaitait imposer des obligations légales plus strictes aux entreprises helvétiques en matière de respect des droits humains et de normes. © Stéphane CUGNIER Swiss voters rejected an initiative that wanted to impose stricter legal obligations on Swiss companies in terms of respect for human rights and standards.

The Swiss voters were called upon to vote in favor, or not, of better monitoring of companies in terms of respect for human rights and the environment. They rejected the text.

The Switzerland on Sunday rejected an initiative that wanted to impose stricter legal obligations on Swiss companies in terms of respect for human rights and environmental standards .

According to the polling institute gfs.bern, the so-called initiative on “responsible multinationals” was rejected by at least 14 of the 26 Swiss cantons although it would have been approved by a narrow majority of votes (50, 7%). However, to be adopted, a text must be approved by both a majority of voters and of the cantons.

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A majority of cantons have rejected the responsible business initiative , sealing its fate. A majority of the popular vote and cantonal vote is needed for an initiative to be approved. The fact that the initiative had so much backing among the Swiss people should not be seen as a loss of confidence

This text provided for obliging Swiss companies to ensure respect for human rights and the environment in their activities abroad, in those of their suppliers or their business partners.

It would also have made it possible to force companies to answer possible breaches before the courts in Switzerland.

“I am extremely disappointed […] but it is an initiative that has received incredible support […] and we see that the whole country has had a very broad debate, a debate which is healthy and which poses the question of the values ​​that we want to ensure in a globalized economy ”, declared on the public channel RTS Lisa Mazzone, representative of the Swiss Greens, party which called to vote yes for the initiative supported by 130 NGOs.

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A second measure, the Responsible Business Initiative , was also unsuccessful. It would’ve held multinational corporations responsible for human rights Nearly 60% of voters on Sunday rejected a measure that would’ve banned the Swiss National Bank from investing in defense companies.

The environmental NGO Greenpeace Switzerland also expressed its disappointment, but stressed that the main point of this initiative had been validated by the popular vote, namely that "those who pollute or violate freedoms fundamental principles must face up to their responsibilities and assume the consequences ”.

The Federal Council (government) as well as business organizations called on voters to reject the text, believing that it risked harming Swiss economic interests.

"This result is a great relief, because the initiative created uncertainty for the entire Swiss economic fabric, including SMEs" , congratulated the Swiss agency Keystone-ATS Cristina Gaggini, Director of Economiesuisse, an association for the defense of companies, for French-speaking Switzerland.

The vote reveals a divide which corresponds to the linguistic border of Switzerland, the German-speaking German-speaking cantons having in majority rejected the initiative while the French-speaking French-speaking cantons generally approved it.

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Both the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Swiss commercial banks have opposed the initiative , with the Swiss Banker Association saying it would weaken Switzerland as a business location and unnecessarily restrict the SNB, pension funds, banks and insurance companies.

A campaign banner reading “ Responsible multinationals initiative , yes!” in the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds The vote on Sunday had been the source of much debate in Switzerland , and was the most Separately on Sunday, an initiative on the financing of weapon manufacturers also failed.


A total of 64.8% of voters, for example, rejected the text in the German-speaking canton of Zug, which houses the headquarters of Glencore, a commodities giant, which has often been questioned by the initiators of the voting, during the campaign.

Their poster campaign included a little girl in front of a mine in Peru owned by a company controlled by the Swiss multinational.

Along with heavy metal releases, some 2,000 children in the region show chronic symptoms of intoxication, suffering from anemia, disabilities and paralysis, according to supporters of the initiative.

They have multiplied the examples, involving pesticides long banned in Switzerland but sold elsewhere by the agrochemist Syngenta or the discharge of fine particles from a lafargeHolcim cement plant in Nigeria.

For supporters of the "no" , the initiative went too far and even risked being counterproductive by forcing companies to leave countries where they invest and create jobs, for fear of an increased risk of complaints.

Now that the popular initiative has been rejected, it is a counter-project drawn up by the Parliament that will apply.

It pursues the same objective of increased corporate responsibility in terms of human rights and respect for the environment, but, the NGOs deplore, without really binding scope.

In another vote, the Swiss also rejected an initiative aimed at prohibiting their Central Bank and pension funds from contributing to the financing of manufacturers of war material through their investments.

According to gfs.bern, it is rejected by 58% of the population as well as by a majority of cantons.

The Swiss refuse to sacrifice their military industry .
© Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP Poster of the pro-No Swiss campaign INQUIRY - During the vote on November 29, the Swiss rejected the text providing for the ban on financing production weapons of war. The economic stake is important for the Confederation: its neutrality does not prevent it from having a large group (RUAG) and many SMEs in the defense sector. An investigation by Laure Wagner, our correspondent in Geneva. The Swiss are neutral but not anti-militarists.

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