29 November 2020

Yes to the protection of people and the environment

Unique campaign: 80'000 KVI flags in every corner of Switzerland. Photo Samuel Rink
Unique campaign: 80'000 KVI flags in every corner of Switzerland. Photo Samuel Rink

An astounding 50.7 percent of Swiss voters say yes to the Corporate Responsibility Initiative, which was voted on 29 November 2020. For terre des hommes schweiz this is a historic success for a cause of international solidarity. Because of the higher proportion of "no of the cantons (majority of the cantons), however, the indirect counter-proposal will be considered, unless a referendum is held against it.

Hardly any other popular initiative has not been put to the vote as long as the one on corporate responsibility. For years there was a struggle in Berne to implement its contents. The formulation and discussion of counter-proposals kept the administration and parliament busy. The haggling over wafer-thin majorities and the endless rejections from one chamber of parliament to another developed into a veritable thriller, until in the summer of 2020 it is finally clear: the corporate responsibility initiative, which terre des hommes schweiz is campaigning for, will be put to the vote on 29 November.

Together with 450 local committees and tens of thousands of volunteers, 130 non-governmental organisations and numerous personalities from politics, business and the church, terre des hommes schweiz has campaigned for a referendum that has changed everyone's consciousness. Today, no one disputes that Swiss companies must also adhere to human rights and environmental standards - everywhere in the world.

Many thanks to all those who, by saying yes to more group responsibility, have committed themselves to a Switzerland of solidarity! Please read the following media release from the Campaign Secretariat of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative, which has done a great job throughout the campaign.

Press release - 29.11.2020

The initiators of the corporate responsibility initiative are pleased with the popular majority, but disappointed that it was not enough to increase the number of estates. Today the corporate lobby has prevailed, unfortunately also thanks to false claims.

The large corporations have succeeded in presenting SMEs as particularly affected, even though they would be exempt. Against her better judgment, the Federal Councillor has spread the misleading claim of reversal of the burden of proof. And committees of the PR agency FurrerHugi have not only advertised with a fake fact-check on the Tamedia portals, but have also stirred up fears of waves of lawsuits of an American character - although the hurdles to litigation in Switzerland are very high. All in all, the confusion tactics of the corporate lobby have unfortunately worked.

Thanks to tens of thousands of volunteers
The thanks of the initiators go to the tens of thousands of volunteers who fought for the cause and were able to convince a majority of the voters. There has probably not been a vote in recent times for which so many people have campaigned.
Despite today's disappointment, the corporate lobby cannot turn back the wheel of time. Today, no one disputes that companies must also comply with human rights and environmental standards abroad. In recent months, all large corporations have claimed to respect human rights and environmental standards. The companies will have to be measured against this claim.

Requirements of the Group Responsibility Initiative will be implemented
For the majority of Swiss people it is clear that profit must not be made at the expense of people or the environment. This is why the majority of the population voted yes. This is also in line with an international trend: more and more countries are passing laws on corporate responsibility. The initiators are convinced that in a few years the demands of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative will prevail here too. All organizations will continue to work hard to achieve this.

Dick Marty, Co-President of the Initiative Committee and former Ticino member of the FDP Council of States:
"Today, I would like to thank the volunteers in particular. The campaign has shown that tens of thousands of citizens can achieve a lot together - even if we have to acknowledge today that the corporate lobby has won with its false reports. The commitment of the citizens and the popular majority gives me great courage. I will continue to work for more justice.»

Monika Roth, Co-President of the Initiative Committee, Professor of Law and Compliance Specialist
"I am convinced that without effective control and liability, voluntary commitments are not sufficient to ensure that all corporations respect international environmental standards and human rights. The indirect counter-proposal will therefore not bring any improvements. What is clear is that the strong coalition for more corporate responsibility will continue to work to ensure that everyone will adhere to a minimum level of responsibility in the future."

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