Swiss Confederation assesses its approach to business and human rights
Bern, 20.11.2023 - On behalf of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), two external studies have reviewed the implementation of the Swiss National Action Plan 2020–23 (NAP) on business and human rights and the corporate governance due diligence procedures carried out by Swiss companies. The FDFA and EAER will update the NAP for the following four years based on the studies' findings. By promoting human rights in business, the Confederation is making an important contribution to sustainable development.
The FDFA and EAER are jointly coordinating the NAP 2020–2023 for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The NAP aim is to protect human rights in the context of business activities of Switzerland's private sector and federal government. It is the roadmap for the government's work to assist companies with training, awareness-raising events and practical tools in carrying out human rights due diligence.
Assessment of the government's and private sector's performance
The FDFA and EAER commissioned a consortium to evaluate the NAP, report on its implementation to date and identify potential for improvement. This consortium was made up of representatives from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Zurich, Good Rechtsanwälte GmbH and the business development consultancy Engageability. Their report confirms the relevance of the NAP as a tool for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and demonstrates clearly that the measures planned have largely been realised. The report also makes recommendations on how to further develop the NAP and strengthen its impact.
The FDFA and EAER also commissioned the consulting firm ECOFACT AG and the Sociological Institute of the University of Zurich to analyse Swiss companies' implementation of due diligence procedures for responsible business conduct. Their report shows that Swiss companies are implementing due diligence measures to some extent and emphasises the need for these measures to be systematically applied in keeping with international standards. It also makes specific recommendations to the Confederation on how further progress can be made.
Updating the NAP 2020–23 on business and human rights
Promoting human rights and responsible business conduct are important pillars of Swiss foreign and economic policy. On 15 November 2023, the Federal Council mandated the FDFA and EAER with updating the NAP for Switzerland's next legislative period. The two departments will draw on the findings of the two studies and again bring in representatives from business, civil society and academia.
Link / documents
Link to NAP website https://www.nap-bhr.admin.ch/napbhr/en/home.html:
Reports are only available in German:
- Report: assessment of the Swiss National Action Plan 2020–23 on business and human rights
- FDFA and EAER statement responding to the assessment of the Swiss National Action Plan 2020–23 on business and human rights
- Report – study on Swiss companies' use of due diligence instruments for responsible business conduct
- FDFA and EAER statement responding to the study on Swiss companies' use of due diligence instruments for responsible business conduct
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