Integrating human rights in business is a matter of global concern

The introduction of a mandatory corporate due diligence obligation widely supported last November with the Responsible Business Initiative has, in fact, already been implemented in recent years by many Swiss companies, including SMEs. Back in 2016, the Federal Council adopted an action plan on the subject based on the UN Guiding Principles introduced ten years ago. However, much promotional work remains to be done.

Find out here our article on the subject, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: 


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