2023 Foreign Policy Report and review of the past legislative period: Switzerland steps up its political and humanitarian commitment

Press releases, 31.01.2024

The Federal Council approved the 2023 Foreign Policy Report at its meeting on 31 January 2024. The report reviews Switzerland's foreign policy in 2023 and takes stock of the Foreign Policy Strategy (FPS) 2020–23.

In 2023, the world faced a high degree of uncertainty as a result of various crises and wars. Violence is now very much on Europe's doorstep, with Russia's continued military aggression against Ukraine, the still worrying situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel on 7 October 2023 and Israel's ongoing military response, the civil war in Sudan, and the heightened tensions in the Sahel region. 

In addition to these man-made crises, there were numerous natural disasters, including earthquakes in Turkey, Morocco and Afghanistan. In the face of these tragedies, Switzerland stepped up its humanitarian commitment and reiterated its stance in support of compliance with international law and international humanitarian law.

Commitment to peace in Ukraine and the Middle East 

The Federal Council plans to allocate CHF 1.5 billion to Ukraine and the region as part of its international cooperation for the period 2025–28. On 29 September 2023, it also decided to provide funding of CHF 100 million for humanitarian demining over the next four years. Alongside these essential steps for the country's reconstruction, Switzerland is actively participating in discussions on the peace formula launched by Ukraine. It has also pushed for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russia's crime of aggression in Ukraine and taken a stance against the re-export of war materiel to Ukraine.

In the Middle East, Switzerland condemned the Hamas attack of 7 October in the strongest possible terms and worked for the release of all hostages, respect for international humanitarian law, protection of the civilian population, access to humanitarian aid, prevention of regional escalation and a political solution to the conflict. On 22 November, the Federal Council decided to draft specific legislation banning Hamas.

Negotiating mandate with the European Union

The prospects for stabilising and developing our relations with the EU grew more favourable in 2023. On 15 December, the Federal Council adopted a new draft negotiating mandate and opened formal consultations with Parliament's foreign affairs committees and with the cantons. These consultations are still ongoing. 

In 2023, the Federal Council completed exploratory talks with the EU on the package approach proposed by the Federal Council in February 2022. To ensure overall coordination, it set up a project organisation structure led by the head of the FDFA, which is responsible for organising regular meetings with representatives of the cantons, economic partners and social partners.

Switzerland on the UN Security Council 

Switzerland has a seat on the UN Security Council from 1 January 2023 until 31 December 2024. As an elected member, it attends all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary organs, and is entitled to speak and vote on all matters under discussion. Within the Council, Switzerland has honed its role as a bridge-builder, while also setting its own priorities: building sustainable peace, protecting civilians, addressing climate security and enhancing the effectiveness of the Security Council.

The results of Switzerland's first year on the Security Council have therefore been generally positive: it was well prepared, its participation was appreciated by the other members and it was viewed as a credible partner. However, due to geopolitical polarisation, the Security Council is currently unable to fulfil its mandate optimally, being hindered by the veto system, as in the case of Ukraine and the Middle East.

Review of the FPS 2020–23

Despite the high level of uncertainty currently facing the world, the majority of FPS 2023–23 objectives have been achieved. For the first time, the Federal Council formulated specific objectives for the 2019–23 legislative period. It used the FPS to define geographical and thematic sub-strategies, accompanied by objectives and targeted measures, thus creating a cascading strategy.  Strategy development, implementation and monitoring are the result of an interdepartmental process that has given Swiss foreign policy more direction and greater coherence. This methodology will be retained during the next legislative period.

Foreign Policy report (provisional version) (FR)(pdf, 1304kb)

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