On 28 November 2018, the FDFA and SECO launched the first sector guidance for best practices in the respect of human rights specifically designed for commodity trading. The Guidance enables companies to conduct due diligence with respect to human rights in conformity with the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights as well as related OECD Due Diligence Guidances. It was jointly elaborated with companies from the sector, NGOs and the canton of Geneva.
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About the Guidance
Commodity trading is an important sector of the Swiss economy. Commodity trading companies, like companies in other economic sectors, must ensure respect for human rights while striving for economic success. Because promoting human rights is a key aspect of Switzerland's foreign policy, the FDFA and SECO decided to produce a good practice guide for the commodities sector – the first such guide in the world.
Based on existing instruments such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the guide sets out a series of measures, illustrated with numerous examples, which companies can take to carry out a human rights due diligence process. Commodities trading companies support the guide, and the Swiss Trading and Shipping Association has recently started a training course to give professionals in the sector a better understanding of the guide's due diligence recommendations.
FDFA Deputy State Secretary Krystyna Marty presented the guide on 28 November during a panel discussion on commodity trading at the 7th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (Geneva, 26–28 November 2018). Representatives of the OECD, the IHRB, the Swiss Trading & Shipping Association and Bread for All were also on the panel.