In a world where the turnover of some multinationals is comparable to the GDP of some of the world’s largest economies, effective protection of human rights must include the private sector. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) constitute the internationally recognized framework that sets out business enterprises’ responsibility for respecting human rights.
The commodity trading sector has major potential, given that it is present in almost all regions of the world and has an impact on the entire production chain, from extraction or production to the consumer. Switzerland maintains a regular dialog with the sector and supports its implementation of measures to ensure respect for human rights. This dialog includes a roundtable meeting held every six months, attended by the Secretaries of the FDFA, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, the directors of the largest commodities companies, the cantons and representatives of Swiss civil society.
With the publication of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in December 2016, the Federal Council explains the various measures it is taking to achieve implementation and focuses on the State’s duties regarding human rights protection and access to remedy for potential victims. The NAP contains 50 policy instruments to promote respect for human rights by Swiss companies both in Switzerland and abroad. One of these measures is aimed directly at the commodity trading sector: a multi-partite group is currently preparing a guide to implementing the UNGPs in the commodity trading sector in Switzerland. This guide will make concrete recommendations on due diligence in the field of human rights and on reporting.