Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Voices from the field

What is human rights due diligence all about? How do Swiss companies implement due diligence in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles? What have they learned, and what are the challenges? What regulatory developments are companies facing, and how can they best prepare?

In a series of four podcasts, experts from various Swiss companies and the Centre for Human Rights Studies of the University of Zürich discuss these and more questions. For anyone interested in the practice of responsible business conduct or looking for inspiration to introduce or further develop human rights due diligence in their company.


Guidance on business and human rights for the Swiss network of representations

A new tool is now available to Swiss representations abroad.

The Guidance on Business and Human Rights for Swiss representations abroad is intended to help them engage in a constructive dialogue with Swiss companies in order to raise awareness of human rights issues and provide specific advice in relation to the local context.

The guidance is part of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2020-2023, which foresees the involvement of representations in raising awareness and supporting Swiss companies to ensure respect for human rights in line with the Federal Council's expectations. It provides an overview of internationally recognized guidelines, standards and principles relating to business and human rights, as well as practical tools for implementing human rights due diligence measures.

The guidance has been sent to embassies and cooperation offices and is available online and as a hard copy brochure. It can be ordered (in E, F, D versions) from:

Practical guide for the implementation of human rights due diligence

This practical guide supports both SMEs and large companies in developing and introducing pragmatic, effective processes for implementing human rights due diligence – in line with the related UN guiding principles and OECD guidelines. In addition, it indicates first steps and further information that can be helpful to companies in introducing due diligence.

The guide is available in English, French, German and Italian.

Die Schweiz ratifiziert zwei Übereinkommen der Internationalen Arbeitsorganisation für Sicherheit und Gesundheit am Arbeitsplatz

On 25 April 2022, Switzerland deposited with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the instruments of ratification of the 1990 International Labour Convention on Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work and the 1993 International Labour Convention on the Prevention of Industrial Accidents. These two conventions create a framework for a more coherent and mutually supportive global commitment to working conditions and the use of chemicals.

For more information, see: SECO - Die Schweiz ratifiziert zwei Übereinkommen der Internationalen Arbeitsorganisation für Sicherheit und Gesundheit am Arbeitsplatz


Business and human rights in the face of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact not only in health terms but also in economic terms, threatening to put many people out of work, both in Switzerland and worldwide. Businesses have an important role to play in the fight against COVID-19. They can support efforts to stop the spread of the virus by adhering to health and safety plans and by ensuring compliance with social distancing. 

The federal government put together a preparedness handbook to help businesses develop measures to protect employees from infection and keep a business running in the event of a pandemic. The handbook is aimed at sector associations and businesses and sets out the various (standard and specific) protection plans.  

Flu pandemic: Preparedness handbook

The ILO has published a great deal of information on the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work:

Brochure “Human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation”

Switzerland is active in combating human trafficking for labour exploitation, which is defined as the recruiting or trading of people who are forced to work against their will. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is committed to making labour inspectors aware of this issue through an information campaign and a brochure providing practical tools, such as indicators for identifying potential victims.

Brochure “Human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation” (german)

Due diligence procedures for Swiss SMEs in the field of human rights: new brochure


What benefits can a company derive if it respects human rights? How can it ensure that it conducts business responsibly? SECO and the FDFA are publishing a brochure for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their human rights responsibilities.

This brochure gives Swiss SMEs a practical overview of the opportunities and challenges of responsible business conduct. It provides international and national guidelines on this subject. It also provides tips for integrating human rights into corporate governance. The brochure provides an overview of the steps required to implement human rights due diligence. It is specifically aimed at SMEs and provides useful and specific information for human rights risk assessment.

Also available in Spanish / También disponible en español

Video BusinessandHumanrights

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights


The UN Human Rights Council endorsed the UNGP in June 2011. The UN Guiding Principles (UNGP) are rooted in an awareness that corporate activities can also have adverse human rights impacts.

The UNGP represent an important step towards closing the governance gaps. They define the international policy framework for the State duty to protect, and corporate responsibility with regard to human rights. The UN Guiding Principles rest on three pillars:

UNGP pillars


The coordination office of the National action plan on business and human rights is affiliated to the SECO and the Peace and Human Rights Division of the FDFA. We respond to your questions by e-mail:




Social networks

Further topics

Verantwortung für Unternehmen 300135186

Corporate responsibility

Corporate activities do not only lead to investment, jobs and economic growth, but can also have undesirable side-effects.

Dokumentation 148482637


Basic documents and studies carried out by the Confederation with external experts.

Staatliche Schutzpflicht 67750972

The State duty to protect

The duty to protect is based on Switzerland's existing obligations under international law which are concretized for the business sector.

Beispiele aus der Praxis 128906532

Case studies

Business activities to support and promote respect for human rights