Corporate Social Responsibility, Contentious Politics and Social Movements
This literature focuses on how various actors such as stakeholders, advocacy organizations or social movements confront corporations to create public awareness about their misdeeds or to pressure them into changing their policies and practices.
Arikan, O., Reinecke, J., Spence, C. & Morrell, K. (2017). Signposts or Weathervanes? The Curious Case of Corporate Social Responsibility and Conflict Minerals. Journal of Business Ethics, 146, 469–484.
Balsiger, P. (2018). Explaining Dynamic Strategies for Defending Company Legitimacy: The Changing Outcomes of Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns in France and Switzerland. Business & Society, 57(4) 676–705.
Swiss Government Reports
In 2013, the Swiss Federal Council issued a Report of the Inter Departmental Platform on Commodities to the Federal Council, also referred to as the Background report on commodities that highlighted the sectors potential risks, and corresponding recommendations in the areas of human rights, environment, corruption and companies reputational risk. Subsequently, status reports on the implementation of recommendations were issued in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2018, the Council issued the report, Swiss commodities sector: current situation and outlook looking at developments in the sector including international regulatory measures relevant to Swiss companies. At the end of 2018, the Commodity Trading Sector Guidance on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights was issued. The Guidance was developed through a collaborative multi-stakeholder process involving companies from the sector, NGOs and state authorities drawn from different levels of government. The process was led by the London-based Institute for Human Rights and Business. The guidance is applicable globally.
Policy & Regulations
Below are relevant international and regional guidance documents addressing the commodity trading sector.
- United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 2011
- The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, 2000
- United Nations Global Compact Principles
Value chain transparency
- Better Gold Initiative
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas
Advocacy NGOs have been spearheading the public scrutiny of the Swiss commodity trading sector. Public Eye (previously Berne Declaration) in particular has been, and still is, the key watchdog of the commodity trading sector and is known for reporting on the risks associated with specific commodities while also playing a coordination role of the civil society in Switzerland.
Over the years, Public Eye, has consistently focused on the commodities sector. We include here a few of their reports.
Commodities: Switzerland's most dangerous business, 2012. This book is one of the organisation’s earliest publications on the Swiss commodity sector with insights into the operations of the sector, its players and the impacts on local communities where the commodities are produced.
Agricultural commodity traders in Switzerland: Benefitting from misery, 2019. This report focuses on agricultural commodity trading and the role of Swiss-based traders which in some cases also involves controlling the production and processing stages in faraway countries where myriads of human rights issues including, lack of livable wages and income, forced and child labour, poor occupation and health safety records are present.