Switzerland represents US interests in Iran since 1980
Foreign Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran © FDFA

This involves taking on some of a state's consular and/or diplomatic tasks in the event that it has broken ties with another state in part or full. Protecting power mandates allow states to maintain low-level relations and provide consular protection to nationals of the other state concerned.

Switzerland can either offer to act as a go-between on its own initiative or can fulfil this function at the request of the parties concerned, provided that all those involved agree.

Iran in Egypt

Switzerland has been representing Iranian interests in Egypt since 1979.

USA in Iran

Switzerland has been representing US interests in Iran since 1980. Its Foreign Interests Section in Tehran handles all US consular affairs in Iran including passport applications, changes in civil status or consular protection for US citizens.

The protecting power mandate dates back to the 1980 hostage crisis when the US broke off relations with Iran following the country's self-proclamation as an Islamic republic, and students occupied the US embassy in Tehran taking a number of US diplomats hostage.

Russia and Georgia

Switzerland has been acting as protecting power for Russia in Georgia and for Georgia in Russia since 2009. Both states use their own staff to carry out administrative, technical and consular matters on the ground but the foreign interest sections fall under Switzerland's protection.

Georgia broke off diplomatic ties with Russia after the August 2008 war and Russia's recognition of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Iran in Canada

Since June 2019, Switzerland has also been representing Iranian interests in Canada. This mandate does not cover consular services.

Ecuador and Mexico

Since June 2024, Switzerland acts as protecting power for Mexico in Ecuador and for Ecuador in Mexico. The two countries conduct administrative, technical and consular business locally with their own staff. However, the interest sections are under the protection of Switzerland.

Mexico broke off diplomatic relations with Ecuador on 5 April 2024 when Ecuadorian armed forces entered the Mexican embassy without its permission.

A centuries-old tradition

Switzerland first acted as a protecting power in the 19th century when it looked after the interests of the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Grand Duchy of Baden in France during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. It also carried out protecting power mandates during the First World War. During the Second World War Switzerland became a protecting power par excellence on account of its neutrality, representing the interests of 35 states – including the major warring powers – with over 200 individual mandates. The number of mandates between 1948 and 1973 has fluctuated between four and twenty-four.

Last update 15.07.2024


Foreign Interests Service

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern

Start of page