After Switzerland rejects strong corporate ethics controls, new proposal likely

Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE)
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Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE)

ethikos 35, no. 1 (January 2021)

A vote that would have banned the national bank from investing in defense industries and would have also stiffen the penalties against Swiss corporations violating human rights and causing environmental harm was rejected. A counterproposal is now being considered.[1] Under the counterproposal, companies are encouraged to respect human rights and environmental standards not only in Switzerland but all over the world, but it “stops short of allowing them to be sued for liability.”

The ethics-based proposal shattered upon the rocks of business concerns. “The initiative won a narrow majority among voters, with 50.7 percent backing it, but failed because a majority of the country’s cantons, or states, rejected it.”[2] The vote results are interesting to consider for ethics professionals in the compliance industry.

1 Catherine Bosley, Hugo Miller, “Switzerland to Step Up Ethical Standards Despite Voters’ Rebuff,” Bloomberg, November 29, 2020, https://bloom.bg/3qldsje.
2 Noele Illien, “Plan to Hold Corporations Liable for Violations Abroad Fails in Switzerland,” The New York Times, November 29, 2020, https://nyti.ms/2K04x6e.

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