Switzerland – SOE

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

2.1 Pillar 1: state duty to protect


2.1.3 The State-business nexus

Guiding Principles 4 to 5

Given the federal government’s direct influence on the activities of federal government-associated businesses, it has a particular obligation to ensure that these companies respect human rights, for example by conducting human rights due diligence. It also expects federal government-associated businesses to have in place human rights best practices.


Measure 9: Human rights due diligence by federal government-associated businesses

The Federal Council defines its strategic goals for federal government-associated businesses every four years and expects these companies to pursue a sustainable corporate strategy to the best of their business ability. As regards the protection of human rights, a number of these businesses already exercise due diligence and document these efforts in their reporting.

To advance the implementation of UN Guiding Principles by federal government-associated businesses, interdepartmental coordination must be stepped up. Failure by these entities to meet international standards on human rights due diligence could pose a reputational risk to the federal government. The Federal Council therefore intends to assist federal government-associated businesses in playing a lead role by raising awareness of human rights due diligence and promoting the exchange of best practices, particularly with regard to risk management, monitoring and public reporting. This optional measure is geared primarily towards federal government-associated businesses which work with suppliers and business partners abroad.

The federal government may also run optional training sessions on UN Guiding Principles and human rights due diligence for the members of boards of directors and senior management of federal government-associated businesses.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Assist federal government-associated businesses in taking a lead role and encourage them to put in place human rights due diligence procedures. Examples of human rights due diligence exercised by federal government-associated businesses.

At least one training session held for federal government-associated businesses.

FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs],

DETEC [Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications],

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


2.2 Pillar 2: the corporate responsibility to respect human rights


2.2.2 Operational principles: human rights due diligence 

Measure 29: Public-private partnerships to promote respect for human rights in the value chain

To promote the implementation of labour rights and human rights by business enterprises, the federal government, together with the ILO, supports the Better Work programme for the textile industry and the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) programme to support SMEs in creating decent working conditions. These projects are jointly run by the ILO, governments, the private sector and unions, and are focused on compliance with fundamental labour standards, including measures to combat child and forced labour. The tools developed by these programmes are shared with the private sector.

The federal government supports a project to promote human rights due diligence with a view to preventing the exploitation of Syrian refugees and migrant workers in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan). The aim is to strengthen the contribution that business enterprises make to providing decent work opportunities and combatting exploitation in the textile, agricultural and construction sectors in these countries.

As part of its foreign policy efforts, Switzerland establishes public-private partnerships to promote measures aimed at combatting human trafficking.


Objective Indicator Responsibility
Establish partnerships with the private sector to create decent work opportunities in value chains. Swiss and private sector contributions to the Better Work and SCORE programmes and to projects aimed at protecting migrant workers from exploitation. FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs],

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