What does the KoVI contain?
Corporations based in Switzerland should ensure that they operate carefully. In concrete terms, this means that human rights are respected and the environmental standards observed. In the event of disregard, companies should bear the consequences and be liable for human rights violations and environmental destruction.
The initiative covers approximately 1’500 companies in Switzerland. The majority of SMEs are ex-empt, with the exception of companies operating in high-risk sectors such as gold refineries or jew-elry dealers. The initiative aims to introduce a duty of care in which companies must analyze risks of non-fulfilling the standards and implement measures to counteract. If the duty of care is violated, the company should be liable under civil law and be obliged to do a payment of damages. To this end, a victim must be able to prove the damage, a causal connection, illegality and lack of control by the company domiciled in Switzerland. Swiss courts have to assess whether these points are fulfilled and judge whether the company has breached its duty of care or not.
To what extent does this affect people in Horyzon's programme countries?
Irresponsible actions by international corporations also contribute to the difficult economic and so-cial circumstances and environmental problems in our programme countries. Child labor on cocoa plantations and water pollution in Colombia are concrete examples of this. The “El Cerrejon” coal mine in the Colombian department of Guajira, which is 33% owned by Glencore, pollutes the Rancheria River with its sedimentation basins. A study has found concentrations of heavy metals in the water to be well above the Colombian limits for maintaining healthy flora and fauna. In addition, many local communities were forcibly resettled for open-cast mining and lost their livelihoods. The "Switzerland-Colombia Working Group" reports in detail on its website and is organizing a series of events at the end of October on the subject of (www.askonline.ch/veranstaltungen)
Further information on the initiative can be found at https://konzern-initiative.ch/