2 National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2020-23

2.1 Pillar 1: state duty to protect

 

2.1.2 Operational principles: legislative and information policy measures

Guiding Principles 1 to 3

Measure 2: Security and human rights

Switzerland is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights initiative and contributes to its development. This initiative is targeted at companies in the extractive sector and offers them guidance on maintaining the safety and security of their operations within a framework that ensures respect for human rights, especially when private and/or public security providers are also involved. It is also committed to the application of the Voluntary Principles in the field and works to expand membership of the initiative.

 

Measure 7: Reduction in human rights risks associated with gold extraction and trading

At the end of 2018, the Federal Council adopted a report setting out a range of measures designed to improve the traceability of gold imported to Switzerland, strengthen multi-stakeholder dialogue and expand development cooperation on responsible gold production.

The measures aim to improve the collection and publication of information on the sources of gold imported in Switzerland, and increase transparency not only regarding the risk assessments conducted by the industry but also regarding its human rights due diligence. The federal government will take steps to promote best practices and examine the possible use of blockchain technologies to improve traceability in the gold industry.

Switzerland will continue to support the implementation of OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and other relevant guidelines. As recommended in the above report, it will explore the possibility of granting the Central Office for Precious Metals Control wider responsibilities, including with respect to transparency on the provenance of gold imported to Switzerland.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Prevent human rights risks associated with gold extraction and trading. A number of recommendations in the Federal Council Report on gold trading and human rights have been implemented. FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs],

FDF [Federal Department of Finance],

EAER [Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research],

FDHA [Federal Department of Home Affairs].

 

Measure 13: Guidelines on human rights due diligence in conflict-affected and high-risk areas

…. Switzerland also supports the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. It is also a member of the multi-stakeholder group that manages the implementation, dissemination and continued development of these guidelines. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance is aimed primarily at companies involved in the extraction and trading of commodities in conflict-affected and high-risk areas, but it also applies to manufacturers of products containing minerals which operate in the downstream value chain and are required to exercise due diligence.

In addition, the federal government supports a project led by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights that aims to clarify the practical steps that companies, investors and States should take to prevent and combat business-related human rights abuses in conflict, post-conflict and fragile contexts The EU adopted Regulation 2017/821 of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The relevant provisions will take effect on 1 January 2021. In accordance with the Federal Council decision of 14 August 2019, the FDJP is mandated to examine the introduction of a mandatory due diligence in the area of “minerals from conflict areas”. In the meantime, on 18 December 2019, the Council of States adopted a regulation on this issue as part of the preparation of an indirect counter-proposal to the popular initiative for responsible businesses. The National Council has not yet commented on this. The Federal Council is of the opinion that it should await the end of the parliamentary debates.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Develop, promote and implement specific guidelines in respect of high-risk, conflict-affected areas.

Explore possible measures that are consistent with international rules, including a bill to be submitted for consultation.

Example of the federal government’s contribution to organisations developing these guidelines.

Explore possible measures that are consistent with international rules, including a bill to be submitted for consultation.

FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs],

EAER [Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research],

FDJP [Federal Department of Justice and Police].