5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

5.6. Relation to the Federal Council position paper on CSR [page 12]

The federal government’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is set out in the Federal Council’s CSR position paper on corporate social and environmental responsibility. The CSR position paper addresses a very broad spectrum of issues of relevance to corporate social responsibility. These include working conditions (including health safeguards), human rights, the environment, preventing corruption, fair competition, consumer interests, tax and transparency. The present report and NAP in fulfillment of postulate 12.3503 and the CSR position paper on corporate responsibility are therefore complementary and of equal status.

5.7 Pillar I: state duty to protect

5.7.2. Operation Principles: legislative and information policy measures

Guiding Principle 3 [page 14]

As one of the objectives of government, and a binding duty on the State, respect for human rights is laid down in the Federal Constitution (FC)…Article 54 FC lists the federal government’s foreign policy objectives. Of particular relevance in the context of business and human rights are the alleviation of poverty, respect for human rights, the promotion of democracy, the peaceful co-existence of peoples, and the conservation of natural resources.

PI5 Regulation of the manufacture and import of renewable resources (biofuels) [page 16]

The Mineral Oil Tax Act provides that biofuels (biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel and vegetable and animal-based oils) will be wholly or partly exempted from mineral oil tax if they satisfy minimum environmental and social requirements. The criteria were toughened up further with the implementation of parliamentary initiative 09.499 Agrotreibstoffe. Indirekte Auswirkungen berücksichtigen [‘Agrofuels: considering the indirect impacts’]. In the future (cf. Art. 12b para. 3 MinOTA), the Federal Council will have the right to refuse the tax exemption if biofuels have been produced in a country which does not have food security. Furthermore, the area used for cultivating the resources used to produce biofuels must have been acquired lawfully, to prevent the displacement or dispossession of the local population.

PI12 Sustainability Standard Reports [pages 19-20]

In line with the Grüne Wirtschaft [‘Green Economy’] report (2016) and the Federal Council’s national action plan on corporate social responsibility, the federal government campaigns at both national and international levels for the promotion and harmonisation of corporate sustainability reporting. This also covers human rights. Switzerland is a member, among others, of the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 (GoF47), which promotes sustainability reporting internationally. Within the GoF47, Switzerland works in particular with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

PI13 Corporate sustainability reporting [page 20]

 The Federal Council is closely monitoring developments with regard to the legally binding reporting of non-financial information in the EU. It is prepared to examine possible action, which would be as congruent as possible with international regulation, and intends to draw up a consultation draft on sustainability reporting that will be based on the EU instrument. Work will begin when more is known about the way in which EU Member States intend to implement the Directive. Swiss business enterprises are not obliged to report on sustainability issues. However, in line with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all UN Member States, and in particular to achieve SDG 12.6, companies are encouraged to introduce sustainable practices and to include sustainability information in their reporting. Accounting legislation requires all companies that are subject to an ordinary audit pursuant to Article 727 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) to include a general assessment of risk in their management report. This also includes human rights risks, where these are present. Listed companies are also obliged by Article 53 of the SIX Swiss Exchange Listing Rules to report on human rights matters where these might affect the company’s share price. The Federal Council recommends incorporating the human rights risks which business enterprises identify in their due diligence processes, for example, in their sustainability reports.