According to the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, Swiss foreign policy aims to ensure that the independence of Switzerland and its welfare is safeguarded. The Confederation shall in particular assist in the alleviation of need and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights and democracy, the peaceful co-existence of peoples as well as the conservation of natural resources. The Confederation shall also safeguard the interests of the Swiss economy abroad.
Switzerland implements its foreign policy in a three-tier cascading strategy. The Foreign Policy Strategy 2020-2023 sets out the priorities of the Federal Council (Swiss Government) for the current legislative period:
- Peace and security
The Federal Council has also adopted geographical and thematic follow-up strategies that guide Switzerland’s activities in specific priority regions – including the Americas – and thematic areas. Finally, at the third stage in the process, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) adopts its own policy documents to implement the various strategies.
Peace and Human Rights
The promotion of peace and human rights is a priority of Swiss foreign policy. The centrepiece of this policy is the protection of individuals and their dignity. Every human being should be able to live in peace, free of fear and need. Switzerland works not only on the ground but also in international organisations in order to make this possible..
Switzerland’s international ties are many and varied. Firstly, it is a member of an array of international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Francophonie Organization, which enjoy close economic, political, social, cultural and scientific ties with the European Union. Secondly, Switzerland is host to numerous international organizations and conferences: Geneva is one of the world’s most important centres for international cooperation (“International Geneva”).
A Plus for Peace: On 9 June 2022, the UN General Assembly elected Switzerland as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Switzerland's non-permanent 2023–24 seat furthers the country's commitment to peace and security within the UN and globally.
Swiss international cooperation is driven by the vision of a world without poverty and in peace, for sustainable development. Switzerland has earmarked CHF 11.25 billion for international cooperation in the 2021–24 period. Switzerland’s Humanitarian Aid focuses on emergency aid, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster-stricken areas, and disaster risk reduction. It places the victims at the centre of its engagement in a spirit of neutrality, independence and impartiality.
International law governs relations between states and simplifies international cooperation, providing certainty through the establishment of binding rules. It provides a basis for peace, stability and the protection of human beings.
Switzerland will raise its profile in global efforts to consolidate digital governance. It will further develop its digital foreign policy and position Geneva as a leading location for debates on digitalisation and technology. In its digital foreign policy, it will work to ensure all relevant stakeholders are included. It will contribute to new approaches to find solutions and pursue the goal of an open and secure digital space which is based on international law and which revolves around people and their needs.
Situated at the heart of the European continent, Switzerland maintains close political, economic and cultural exchanges with the EU and its member states.
Swiss and international security policy have grown more complex in recent years. In its security policy, Switzerland focuses on cooperation with international organisations, such as the EU or NATO, as well as on disarmament and non-proliferation.
Sustainability, Environment, Energy, Health, Education, Science, Transports and Space
The FDFA supports other federal departments in these key areas of foreign policy and proactively shares its expertise in these domains.
The Financial Centre and the Economy
The financial sector and exports are central pillars of the Swiss economy. Switzerland has one of the best regulated and monitored financial centres in the world. It applies UN sanctions, is committed to the fight against organised crime and terrorism, and cooperates on international taxation matters.