An Examination of Multinational Corporations’ Accountability in the Light of Switzerland’s Failed Responsible Business Initiative in the Covid-19 Pandemic Era

Main Article Content

Ikechukwu P. Ugwu

Abstrakt

This article examines the efforts made so far in holding multinational corporations (MNCs) liable for human rights and environmental violations in the light of Switzerland’s failed referendum in November 2020, during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also looks at other international law instruments that have the potential to hold MNCs accountable. While these other laws have failed to achieve the desired result of holding MNCs accountable, the referendum, if it had succeeded, would have triggered a binding vote on a constitutional amendment to introduce compulsory human rights due diligence for companies incorporated in Switzerland, the first of its kind in Europe. The consequencewould have been that victims of Swiss MNCs’ violations would have had the right to bring claims in Switzerland against a defaulting Swiss MNC. Unfortunately, the referendum failed, and to some extent the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected the referendum outcome, because it was greatly politicised. It became a lost opportunity on what would have been “one small step for [Switzerland], one giant leap for the [international community]”.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Jak cytować
Ugwu, I. P. (2021). An Examination of Multinational Corporations’ Accountability in the Light of Switzerland’s Failed Responsible Business Initiative in the Covid-19 Pandemic Era. Przegląd Prawniczy Uniwersytetu Im. Adama Mickiewicza, 13, 119-155. https://doi.org/10.14746/ppuam.2021.13.06
Dział
Articles

Bibliografia

  1. Adam K, Second Wave of Covid-19 in Europe leads to new Restrictions but no National Lockdowns, “The Washington Post”12 October 2020.
  2. Adamski T., The Alien Tort Claims Act and Corporate Liability: A Threat to the United States “International Relations” Fordham International Law Journal” 2011, vol. 34.
  3. African Union, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 27 June 1981, CAB/LEG/67/3 rev 5, 21 ILM 58, 1982.
  4. Ahiakpor J., Multinational Corporations in the Third World: Predators or Allies in Economic Development?, “Religion and Liberty” 2010, vol. 2.
  5. Bachmann S., Terrorism Litigation as Deterrence under International Law – From Protecting Human Rights to Countering Hybrid Threats“Amicus Curiae” 2011, vol. 87.
  6. Bachmann S.D. and Ugwu I.P., Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Environmental Protection: Moving Towards an Emerging Norm of Indigenous Rights Protection? “Oil and Gas, Natural Resources, and Energy Journal” 2021, vol. 6, no. 4
  7. Bachmann S.D., Bankrupting Terrorism: The Role of US Anti – terrorism Litigation in the Prevention of Terrorism and Other Hybrid Threats: A Legal Assessment and Outlook, “Liverpool Law Review”2012, vol. 33.
  8. Banks T.G., Corporate Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute: The Second Circuit’s Misstep Around General Principles of Law in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. “Emory International Law Review” 2012, vol. 26.
  9. Bartika A.W. and others, The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Business outcomes and Expectations, “PNAS” 2020, vol. 117, p. 17666;
  10. Baxi U., Human Rights Responsibility of Multinational Corporations, Political Ecology of Injustice: Learning from Bhopal Thirty Plus?,“Business and Human Rights Journal” 2015, vol. 1.
  11. Bellia JrA. J. and ClarkB. R., The Alien Tort Statute and the Law of Nations,“The University of Chicago Law Review” 2011, vol. 78.
  12. Black’s Law Dictionary,Conflict of Laws, 11th ed. 2019.
  13. Bonell M.J., The Law Governing International Commercial Contracts and the Actual Role of the UNIDROIT Principles, “Uniform Law Review” 2018, vol. 23.
  14. Bosley C., Swiss Economic Recovery Delayed by Second Virus Wave, “Bloomberg”15 December 2020.
  15. Bueno N., The Swiss Responsible Business Initiative and its Counter – proposal: Texts and Current Developments, “Business and Human Rights Journal Blog” 2018, no. 1.
  16. Campagna J., United Nations Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights: The International Community Asserts Binding Law on the Global Rule Makers, “The John Marshall Law Review” 2004, vol. 37.
  17. Chukwu M.N. and Ubosi N.I., Impact of Cement Dust Pollution on Respiratory Systems of Lafarge Cement Workers, Ewekoro, Ogun State, Nigeria, “Global Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences” 2016, vol. 22.
  18. CIDSE, Pressure Growing for a UN Binding Treaty with or without the EU’s support, “CIDSE” 19 October 2018.
  19. Danforth M. E., Corporate Civil Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute: Exploring Its Possibility and Jurisdictional Limitations“Cornell International Law Journal” 2011, vol. 44.
  20. Deva S., UN’s Human Rights Norms for Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises: An Imperfect Step in the Right Direction, “ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law” 2004, vol. 10.
  21. Donthu N. and Gustafsson A., Effects of COVID-19 on Business and Research, “Journal of Business Research” 2020, vol. 117.
  22. Drobak J. N., The Alien Tort Statute from the Perspective of Federal Court Procedure, “Washington University Global Studies Law Review” 2014, vol. 13.
  23. Duvanel V.A., The Swiss Responsible Business Initiative Has Been Rejected, but the Government’s Counterproposal Will Likely Enter Into Force: Brief Overview of the New Duties for Companies,“JDSUPRA” 10 December 2020.
  24. Ekeng E.E., Bejor S.E., and IbiangI.E., Effluent Effect from Lafargeholcim Cement Plant on Environment in Cross River State, South – South, Nigeria, “International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research” 2017, vol. 8.
  25. English R., Parents Company owes Duty of Care in Transnational Cases – Hague Court of Appeal, “Human Rights Blog”, 1 March 2021.
  26. Giuliani E. and Macchi C., Multinational Corporations’ Economic and Human Rights Impacts on Developing Countries: A Review and Research Agenda, “Cambridge Journal of Economics” 2014, vol. 38.
  27. Gogniat V., Beat Hess, président de LafargeHolcim: «L’initiative sur les multinationalesestuneabsurdité gigantesque, “Le Temps”, 8 November 2020.
  28. Harvey F., Toxic Pesticides Banned for EU use Exported from UK, “The UK Guardian”, 10 September 2020.
  29. Hasheela I., Contamination Mapping and Land Use Categorization for Tsumeb, Namibia, “Communications of the Geological Survey of Namibia” 2018, vol. 19.
  30. Hetze K. and Winistörfer H., Insights into the CSR Approach of Switzerland and CSR Practices of Swiss Companiesin:Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe, eds. Idowu S.O., Schmidpeter R., Fifka M.S., Switzerland 2015.
  31. Illien N., Plan to Hold Corporations Liable for Violations Abroad Fails in Switzerland, “The New York Times” 29 November 2020.
  32. Jacek B., Alien Invasion: Corporate Liability and its Real Implications Under the Alien Tort Statute, “Seton Hall Law Review” 2013, vol. 43.
  33. Jägers N., Corporate Human Right Obligations: In Search of Accountability, “Human Rights Research Series” 2002, vol 17.
  34. Karin B., Chinese Human Rights Guidance on Minerals Sourcing: Building Soft Power, “Journal of Current Chinese Affairs” 2017, vol. 46.
  35. Karsten G., Perceptions, Practices and Adaptations: Understanding Chinese – African Interactions in Africa “Journal of Current Chinese Affairs” 2014, vol. 43.
  36. Kilchmann J., RBI: What is the Most Important Content of the Counter – Proposal?, “KPMG Blog|”1 December 2020.
  37. Koebele M., Corporate Responsibility under the Alien Tort Statute,“Developments in International Law” 2009, vol. 61.
  38. Martin – Ortega O., Business and Human Rights in Conflict, “Ethics and International Affairs” 2008,vol. 22.
  39. Milieudefensie v Roya Dutch Shell Plc and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. 200.126.849, 29 January 2021.
  40. Miretski P.P. and Bachmann S.D., The UN ‘Norms on the Responsibility of Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights’: A Requiem, “Deakin Law Review” 2012, vol. 17.
  41. MujyambereJ. P., The Status of Access to Effective Remedies by Victims of Human Rights Violations Committed by Multinational Corporations in the African Union Member States,“Groningen Journal of International Law” 2017, vol. 5.
  42. Omoteso K. and Yusuf H., Accountability of Transnational Corporations in the Developing World: The Case for an Enforceable International Mechanism, “Critical Perspectives on International Business” 2017, vol. 13.
  43. Permanent Court of International Justice, ‘Lotus’, France v Turkey, Judgment, Judgment No 9, PCIJ Series A No 10, ICGJ 248, PCIJ 1927, 1935 2 Hudson, World Ct Rep 20, 7th September 1927.
  44. Pierre C., Swiss Politics for Complete Beginners, Slatkine 2015.
  45. Popov D., Dirty Precious Metals: Dumping European toxic waste in Tsumeb, Namibia, Namibia 2016.
  46. Rachel C., Parent Company Direct Liability for Overseas Human Rights Violations: Lessons from the UK Supreme Court“University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law” 2021, vol. 42, no. 3.
  47. Ruggie J.G., Business and Human Rights: The Evolving International Agenda, “American Journal of International Law” 2007, vol. 101.
  48. Sambo P.T., Vedanta Resources PLC and K C and Konkola Copper Mines PLC v Lungowe and Others 2019 UKSC 20 “SAIPAR Case Review” 2019, vol. 2.
  49. Schenkel R., Dump with Toxic Arsenic next to a Residential Area: A Swiss Company Purchases Copper from a Controversial Smelter, “AargauerZeitung” 2020.
  50. Stephens J., Pfizer Reaches Settlement Agreement in Notorious Nigerian Drug Trial, “Washington Post” 4 April 2009.
  51. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, 2003, UN ESCOR, 55th sess, 22nd mtg, Agenda Item 4, UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2.
  52. The United Nations General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171.
  53. The United Nations General Assembly, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS 3.
  54. The United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary – General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, John Ruggie Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, 2011, 17th sess, Agenda Item 3, UN Doc A/HRC/17/31.
  55. UN General Assembly, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 16 September 1987, reprinted in 26 I.L.M. 1541, 1987.
  56. UN General Assembly, Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Mankind resolution/adopted by the General Assembly, 6 December 1988, A/RES/43/53.
  57. UN General Assembly, Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, 22 March 1985, reprinted in 26 I.L.M. 1516, 1987.
  58. United Nations General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, GA Res 217 A (III) UN – Doc A/810 at 71.
  59. Van Doremalen N. et. al., Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1, “The New York Journal of Medicine” 2020, vol. 382.
  60. Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc v Lungowe and Others [2019] UKSC 20.
  61. Von Verdross A., On the Concept of International Law, “The American Journal of International Law” 1949, vol. 43.
  62. Ward H., Governing Multinationals: The Role of Foreign Direct Liability, “Royal Institute of International Affairs’ Briefing Paper” 2001, vol. 18.
  63. Young E. A., Universal Jurisdiction, the Alien Tort Statute, and Transnational Public – Law Litigation After Kiobel, “Duke Law Journal” 2015, vol. 64.
  64. Abdullahi v Pfizer, Inc. 562F 3d 163, 2d Cir 2009.
  65. Doe v Unocal 395F 3d 932, 9th Cir 2002.
  66. Jam et al v International Finance Corporation 586 US 2019.
  67. Jesner v Arab Bank, PLC 16–499 US 584, 2018.
  68. Judiciary Act of 1789, ch 20, § 9(b), 1 Stat 73,77.
  69. Regulation, EU, 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict – affected and high – risk areas OJL 130, 19 May 2017.
  70. The Audit Oversight Act, SR 221.302, Federal Law Of 16 December 2005 on the Approval and Supervision of Auditors.
  71. The Swiss Code of Obligations, SR/RS 22, 220 Federal Act of 30 March 1911.
  72. Wiwa v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 226 F3d 88, 2d Cir 2000.
  73. <http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/48004323.pdf>
  74. <https://corporatejustice.org/news/359-switzerland-s-action-human-ights>
  75. <https://earthrights.org/case/doe-v-unocal/>
  76. <https://globalnaps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/beilage-01-directeurs-entreprises-l%E2%80%99homme-la-eda-bf.pdf>
  77. <https://konzern-initiative.ch/beispiel/lafargeholcim/>
  78. <https://konzern-initiative.ch/beispiel/minderjaehrige-schuften-in-glencore-mine/>
  79. <https://konzern-initiative.ch/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/raid-glencore-had.pdf>
  80. <https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases/media-releases-council.msgid-2045.html>
  81. <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/29/plan-to-boost-firms-referendum>
  82. <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55122172>
  83. <https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/companies-position-rights-ue-iligence-initiative/>
  84. <https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/drc-copper-to-tax-responses/>
  85. <https://www.business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/documents/DraftLBI.pdf>
  86. <https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/timeline-ecdc-esponse>
  87. <https://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/en-za/knowledge/publications/721042ff/uk–supreme–court–ruling–on–parent–company–liability–for–acts–of–its–overseas–subsidiaries>
  88. <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/WGTransCorp/OEIGWG_RevisedDraft_LBI.pdf>
  89. <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/WGTransCorp/Session4/ZeroDraftOPLegally.PDF>
  90. <https://www.panna.org/blog/switzerland-stop-exporting-pesticides#:~:text=This%20week’s%20decision%20affects%20five,be%20exported%20from%20the%20country>
  91. <https://www.publiceye.ch/en/media-corner/press-releases/detail/mine-child-shirks-ts-esponsibility-in-bolivia>
  92. <https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business-and-human-accused-drc/44574658>
  93. <https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/vote-results-november-2020/46121138>
  94. <https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/why-big-companies-the-esponsible-usiness-initiative/46159772>
  95. <https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/why-swiss-business-against-he-corporate-responsibility-initiative/46137670>
  96. <https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/why-swiss-business-against-he-corporate-responsibility-initiative/46137670>
  97. <https://www.thelocal.ch/20200225/breaking>
  98. <https://www.thelocal.ch/20201129/swiss-reject-worlds-corporate-esponsibility-ules>
  99. <https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200130-10-cov.pdf?sfvrsn=d0b2e480_2>
  100. <https://www.who.int/news/item/27–04–2020-who-timeline-19>
  101. <https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/>