Swiss voters rejected a ballot question called the Responsible Business Initiative that would have instituted legal liabilities and allowed torts against domestic companies that are accused of international human rights abuses and climate damage. If this had passed, environmentalists and other left-wing groups would have had a field day in terms of litigating Switzerland into outright socialism by destroying Swiss companies via the legal system. Thankfully it was shot down.
Swiss firms narrowly avoid ‘Responsible Business’ liability as vote divides nation
By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, November 29, 2020
ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss firms narrowly avoided facing greater liability for human rights and environmental abuses on Sunday after a national vote rejected the proposal due to regional differences despite it winning majority popular support.
In a divisive referendum, 50.7% of Swiss voters supported proposals by the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI) to extend liability over international human rights abuses and environmental harm caused by major Swiss companies and the firms they control abroad.
But the initiative failed to win support in a majority of cantons, a necessary condition for a public initiative to be enacted in Switzerland, paving the way for a milder government counter-proposal to come into force.
It is the first time in over 60 years a Swiss vote has failed on regional grounds after winning popular support.
“The Federal Council is pleased with the result, but is also aware that many who have fought for years for the initiative are disappointed today,” Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said at a press conference.
She said the enactment of new government measures meant supporters would not leave the campaign with empty hands. “The Federal Council is convinced that this is a good way to achieve the common and undisputed goal of better protecting human rights and the environment.”
The government proposal will require firms to step up and publicly report checks on their overseas operations and supply chains, hitherto voluntary measures, but stops short of extending liability to Swiss courts.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ballots and other documents mailed to Swiss voters in Berne for elections and referendums. By Sandstein – Own work by uploader. Use of any copyrighted content is de minimis., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5128691