What is the Responsible Business Initiative?

Time and again, Siwss-based companies violate human rights abroad and ignore minimum environmental standards. The Responsible Business Initiative (Konzernverantwortungsinitiative or Kovi) aims to put a stop to such unscrupulous business practices.

How can I help?

Talk about it, tell your friends about the problem – and publicise the Initiative. With a flag on your balcony or with a bag in your hand. Get actively involved with the Responsible Business Initiative or support the association financially with a donation.

Is there a recent example?

We continually receive shocking news about the criminal activities of Swiss companies in the poorest countries of the world. Only in January, video recordings from a Glencore mine in Peru, where Glencore security guards attacked indigenous women farmers with stones, were all over the media. The background: the multinational wants to expand the Antapaccay copper mine and does not shy away from driving people off their land.

What will the Initiative change?

The Peruvian women farmers would be able to take legal action against Glencore in Switzerland. The Initiative obliges all companies to integrate the protection of people and the environment into all business processes. For example, if a Swiss refinery discovers that it has imported gold from a mine where children work, it must take action to stop this human rights violation – and then report transparently on the measures it has taken. Violations must have consequences, which is why corporations will in future be liable for human rights violations caused by themselves or their subsidiaries.

Who is behind the Initiative?

An unprecedentedly broad-based association of 114 organisations. Their representatives and personalities from politics, business and science form the Initiative Committee. Kovi can also count on the support of over 100 companies in the business world (“Committee for Responsible Companies”), including Weleda (cosmetics), Pestalozzi & Co AG (building services engineering) and Ernst Schweizer AG (metal construction).

Why does SWISSAID support the Initiative?

The Initiative has an existential importance for everyone in the South, especially the poorest people. Polluted drinking water, carcinogenic chemicals, child labour: SWISSAID and its local partners experience the catastrophic effects of the companies’ ruthless activities in our project countries every day. Once the initiative is adopted, the multinationals can finally be called to account. That is why we are asking for your support.

Where do the funds with which SWISSAID supports the initiative come from?

SWISSAID’s commitment to the responsibile business initiative is financed exclusively from its own resources. No federal funds are used.

When is the Initiative being put to the vote?

The date is set for 29th November 2020: after years of to-ing and fro-ing it’s come to the final showdown. To ensure that you don’t miss voting day, you’d best mark it in your diary today.