Bern (dpa) - Swiss companies cannot be held liable in Switzerland for environmental damage or human rights violations abroad in the future either.

The initiators of this proposal failed in a referendum on Sunday.

Supporters of the “Corporate Responsibility Initiative” were razor-thinly ahead of the opponents with 50.7 percent of the votes, as the final result showed.

But initiatives are only successful if the majority of the cantons agree.

But there was only a yes in four of the 26 cantons.

The disappointment was great because a majority of the respondents were in favor of the survey in advance.

Supporters included more than 130 church organizations and aid agencies, environmental and human rights organizations.

You wanted to impose a new duty of care on Swiss companies.

If there were defects there, the companies should be able to be sued in Swiss courts for damage caused by subsidiaries or suppliers along the supply chain.


Like the government, the business association Economiesuisse was against it.

He had condemned the initiative as “radical, unrealistic and arrogant”.

They put Swiss companies under general suspicion.

Instead, a law comes into force that the government has already passed through parliament.

Firms must monitor, exercise due care and report on the activities of their subsidiaries and business partners abroad.

However, this law does not provide for sanctions for violations.

Subsidiaries and suppliers are still liable for damage they cause themselves and, as a rule, locally in accordance with the local law.

The second proposal also failed: 57.45 percent of the electorate voted against a “ban on the financing of war material producers”.

The proponents of this initiative wanted the National Bank, foundations and pension funds to no longer be allowed to invest in companies that generate more than five percent of sales from the production of war material.


© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201129-99-507637 / 2

Supporters of the "responsible business" initiative

Proponents of the initiative for war material producers

Federal government to vote