Corporate responsibility

Corporate responsibility

The UNGP distinguish between three types of adverse human rights impacts on the part of business enterprises:

1. Business enterprises may abuse human rights through their own activities.

2. Business enterprises may contribute to abuses of human rights through their activities.

3. Business enterprises may be involved in abuses of human rights via their business relationships, without contributing to those impacts themselves.

Under the UN Guiding Principles, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights applies to all business enterprises, regardless of the size, the sector, the environment, ownership or structure.

Business enterprises that are based and/or operating in Switzerland should duly fulfil their duty to uphold human rights. Human rights due diligence is a core element of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

Human rights due diligence:

(1) Identify potential and actual risks and impacts,
(2) take precautions to minimise them,
(3) review measures,
(4) report on activities and identified risks.

The federal government understands its role as being to support business enterprises with the implementation of the UNGP, to create incentives to comply with them and to encourage business enterprises to respect human rights. With this NAP the federal government is contributing towards the respect for human rights by business enterprises also when they operate outside of Switzerland.

Swiss companies are viewed as pioneers in the development of the global market and the creation of jobs and welfare. Many of these believe that respect for human rights is of strategic importance to their operations (in terms of, for example, competitive advantage, market positioning, greater productivity and avoiding reputational risks). Nowadays, increasing numbers of business enterprises are fulfilling their human rights responsibilities in a conscious way. Both business enterprises and civil society stakeholder groups are supporting and furthering respect for human rights with a wide range of programmes. Indeed, respect for human rights forms an integral part of many companies' corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. More information about CSR can be found on the website of the Confederation.