Federal Council report on gold trading and human rights

Bern, 14.11.2018 - At its meeting on 14 November 2018, the Federal Council has presented its gold report in response to a postulate submitted by Parliament. The report takes stock of the Swiss gold sector, reiterates the initiatives and measures already taken and formulates recommendations to ensure that the gold imported into Switzerland has not been produced in violation of human rights.

In view of the importance of the gold sector in Switzerland and the risks linked to the production of gold in the countries where it is mined, the Federal Council decided to dedicate a report to this issue as requested by postulate 15.3877 of 21.09.2015. The Swiss precious metals industry had already been the object of an analysis in the Federal Council report on the national evaluation of the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing in Switzerland.

The gold report is based on a mapping of the sector in Switzerland, its main actors and the potential risks and challenges that it presents. It lists the projects and measures put in place by Switzerland and Swiss companies to ensure human rights compliance in the gold production sector.

Switzerland is an important stakeholder in the international trade in gold. A substantial proportion of the gold produced worldwide is refined in Swiss foundries, which work with both mined and recycled gold. In 2017, some 2,404 tonnes of gold were imported into Switzerland (worth a total of CHF 69.6 billion) and 1,684 tonnes were exported (CHF 66.6 billion). The Swiss refiners apply voluntary standards to ensure that production meets internationally recognised social and environmental standards, and to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly contribute to human rights abuses.

Switzerland is working at the national and international levels to ensure that gold produced in violation of human rights is not imported into the country. The gold trade here is regulated by some of the most rigorous legislation worldwide. The Precious Metals Control Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act in particular seek to ensure that the gold processed by refiners is not of misrepresented origin.

The Confederation promotes standards developed by the OECD and supports their implementation by companies. Since 2012, for example, it has supported the OECD's efforts to help gold buyers ensure that their activities do not fuel armed conflicts. The Better Gold Initiative (BGI), which was set up by Switzerland in 2013, develops supply chains for gold produced by artisanal mines which abide by voluntary sustainability standards. It allowed the production and marketing of around 2.5 tonnes of sustainably sourced gold between 2013 and 2017. Switzerland also supports projects through development cooperation efforts, such as the establishment of a responsible gold production chain in Mongolia.

In its report, the Federal Council recommended measures to be implemented by the Federal Administration. It considers that there is scope for action in the areas of transparency and gold supply chains. Traceable sourcing of the precious metal is essential because it is the only way to prevent gold mined in breach of human rights from being imported into Switzerland. The Federal Council also suggests strengthening multi-stakeholder dialogue and expanding development cooperation in the area of responsible gold production.


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State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
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Last modification 03.10.2018

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