Wirtschaftsverband Chemie Pharma Life Sciences

What is the Responsible Business Initiative?


Within the scope of their diverse activities abroad, Swiss companies have to comply with human rights and environmental standards, which is par for the course for scienceindustries. The Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), however, is extreme: no other country applies such far-reaching liability provisions and expects companies to personally ensure that third parties also observe human rights and environmental standards, i.e. all their customers, suppliers, distributors and agents worldwide. scienceindustries rejects the RBI and campaigns for a sensible and internationally coordinated solution.

The Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), which was launched under the misleading name Corporate Responsibility Initiative, violates fundamental legal principles. According to the prevailing legal position, Swiss companies are already obliged to observe human rights and environmental regulations. Companies that operate internationally already undertake today to ensure sustainable supply chain management in accordance with established standards (due diligence process, corporate social responsibility and the UN’s Agenda 2030). To this end, they increasingly cooperate actively with their suppliers in developing and emerging countries to improve local conditions. You can find many examples of this on the website: Verantwortung leben

The RBI proposes a legal system that expands the due diligence obligations and liability provisions to also encompass the supply chains of the affected companies. As such, the initiative would also affect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - if they are not already involved owing to their own foreign business relationships, large companies would be forced to require their suppliers to provide legal warranties and would take recourse to them if they should be found guilty of violating the rules. For an in-depth analysis of the effect on SMEs, please consult our fact sheet “Why the Responsible Business Initiative is very problematic”.

scienceindustries believes that it is misguided to force companies to observe human and environmental rights by way of a comprehensive and compulsory corporate responsibility framework. This purpose is better served by established standards, such as the UN Global Compact or the OECD’s guidelines for international enterprises, both of which have been greatly advanced in practice and are applied internationally. For more information, please consult our “Position paper on the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI)”.


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