Best practice guide for the commodity trading sector

Press release, 29.11.2018

On 28 November 2018, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) launched a Guidance on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This best practice guide, produced together with the London-based Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), is the result of a public consultation with NGOs, the private sector and the Geneva cantonal authorities. It is the first document of its kind worldwide.

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.

Further information:

Guidance on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Information
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47

Antje Baertschi
Head of Communications SECO
Tel. 058 46 35275


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs