eye on the multinationals: How do we keep companies honest on human rights?

By Jessica Davis Plüss

This content was published on June 20, 2019

Nearly 20 years ago, chocolate companies like Mars and Nestlé committed to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate we buy is still produced using child labour.
(Keystone / Rebecca Blackwell)

Our analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when a CEO of a major multinational wouldn’t be caught dead saying the words “human rights”. Times have changed. Just this week, more than 30 CEOs signed a call to action on human rights, and big companies from Nestlé
to Glencore proudly publish corporate human rights reports.

But how do we ensure these aren’t just empty promises and window dressing? The one (and perhaps only) thing that industry, civil society, and politicians could agree on ahead of the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI) vote in the Swiss House of Representatives last week was that respect for human rights and the environment is important. (By the way, a potential compromise on the initiative is still possible after last week’s vote).


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