In January this year, the Federal Council published Switzerland’s new action plan (NAP) 2020-2023, aimed at implementing the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights. The text contains some progress in relation to the 2016-2019 strategy, but does not, in the eyes of civil society, constitute a solid framework for ensuring that Swiss companies respect human rights in their activities, and those of their business partners, abroad.
There are three reasons for this:
- The published targets and indicators are too general, or anecdotal, to be able to assess the effectiveness of this action plan in four years’ time.
- The Federal Council believes that with a simple non-financial reporting obligation, companies will adopt effective and rigorous human rights policies that meet international standards, whereas the experience of the European Union has shown that this is not the case.
- The Federal Council is not taking strong measures to ensure that State-owned Enterprises or Government-linked companies implement exemplary human rights policies, even though a study has identified serious shortcomings in this area and concluded that this constitutes a reputational risk for the government.