Ten years in the making, a proposal to hold Swiss companies accountable for their actions abroad has failed to win a majority in a nationwide vote on Sunday.

The cantonal vote sealed the fate of the initiative launched by a broad alliance of NGOs. The majority of Switzerland’s 26 cantons rejected the initiative. However, the initiative succeeded in capturing 50.7% of the popular vote.

A majority of both the popular vote and cantonal vote is needed for an initiative to pass.

It is very rare that an initiative is rejected by cantons but successfully achieves a popular majority.

Cantons notably in the German-speaking part of the country, refused the proposal for a constitutional amendment to impose new standards on Swiss companies’ activities abroad. But most cantons in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland as well as urban regions voted in favour.

In a news conference announcing the results, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said “the Federal Council [the cabinet] is convinced that the chosen path is the right one”. The rejection of the initiative means a milder counter-proposal will automatically come into force.

It obliges companies to report on human rights and environmental standards and conduct due diligence when it comes to child labour and mineral sourcing from conflict areas. However, it doesn’t include a liability clause as was the case with the initiative.

It obliges companies to report on human rights and environmental standards and conduct due diligence when it comes to child labour and mineral sourcing from conflict areas. However, it doesn’t include a liability clause as was the case with the initiative.

Dick Marty, a renowned human rights expert and former politician who co-chaired the initiative committee, said on Sunday that “if victory doesn’t come today, it will certainly come tomorrow”, implying that the movement built around the initiative will not end now.

Read more www.swissinfo.ch