A plus for peace
Switzerland is active in the field of peacebuilding, offering a wide range of tools and hands-on experience in the areas of rule of law, institution building and post-conflict reconstruction. Every year, over 200 Swiss civilian experts respond to requests from other states or international organisations. They may assist parties in the drawing up of transitional justice strategies or mediating conflicts. Switzerland also chairs the Burundi configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. We are among the top 10 donors to the Peacebuilding Fund and back UN efforts to sustain peace and the review of the peacebuilding architecture.
Additionally, Switzerland is committed to strengthening the Women, Peace and Security agenda, a key element of peace and security. We were among the first countries worldwide to adopt a national action plan and help other countries draw up their own plans. Together with South Africa, Switzerland will chair the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network in 2022.
Peacekeeping: Switzerland supports UN peace operations by providing civilian and military personnel, sharing expertise and delivering training. Swiss Armed Forces currently serve in 18 countries where multilateral peace operations are deployed. In Africa, we collaborate with regional training centres in Bamako, Nairobi and Accra.
Disarmament and non-proliferation: Switzerland actively participates in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes. We remain committed to a world without nuclear weapons. We are currently serving on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency and will chair the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2022–23. As new technologies evolve and new risks emerge, we will champion multilateral responses and cooperative approaches to cope with the challenges ahead.
A plus for humanity
We are the top donor of annual, non-earmarked contributions to the ICRC and maintain close ties with many other humanitarian organisations. This tradition of international solidarity translates into the provision of impartial assistance during crises, armed conflicts and disasters, focusing on people’s needs and their right to live in security and dignity.
Standing up for the rule of law: International law is one of the most important guarantors of peace. While more than half of UN members are small states with a population of less than 10 million – just like Switzerland – a reliable rules-based international order is crucial for states of all sizes as it is the cornerstone of effective multilateralism. Small states have an essential role to play in this regard on the international stage. Improving compliance with and respect for international law is a high foreign policy priority for us.
Upholding human rights and protecting civilians: We put people first. Respecting human rights, including civil rights and liberties, helps to prevent conflict and fosters peaceful and sustainable societies. Switzerland is proud to support the important work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council in Geneva. We care about the protection of civilians and put our longstanding experience to good use as co-chair of the Group of Friends of the protection of civilians in New York and the Human Rights and Conflict Prevention Caucus in New York and Geneva.
Strength in diversity: Since the founding of modern-day Switzerland in 1848, the Swiss people have upheld a culture of diversity. Four national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh – are spoken in the country. Close to 25% of the population are foreign nationals and one third were born abroad, meaning that different cultures and faiths live together and tolerance is part of everyday life.
A plus for sustainable development
Committed to the 2030 Agenda: Switzerland strives to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is working with all countries to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Little time is left to achieve the SDGs, so action is needed now. We have been providing official development assistance since the 1960s through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a trusted brand and reliable partner worldwide.
Sustainable financing is vital to achieving the SDGs. Our financial expertise supports sustainable economic growth, digital transformation, market development and the creation of decent jobs worldwide. This helps countries become more competitive, reinforcing private-sector initiatives to give people better prospects for the future.
A pioneer in environmental protection, Switzerland is helping to implement the Paris Agreement by committing to climate neutrality by 2050 and supporting developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions. Additionally, our approach to preventing and reducing the risks associated with natural disasters has proven to be effective and we share this experience with others. Furthermore, Switzerland promotes a better understanding of climate change and its impacts on peace and security. Our Blue Peace initiative enhances cross-border collaboration on water access.
Caring for health and the environment: Switzerland is helping to build sustainable societies. In recent years, some 8 million people have gained better access to drinking water and effective farming irrigation systems; 9 million people have completed their education thanks to Swiss assistance; and long before COVID-19, we started advocating for stronger healthcare systems, universal health coverage and access to quality healthcare services.
Gender equality and the role of women: Gender equality is part of all our development cooperation activities. Our foreign policy seeks to empower women and girls and ensure their rights are respected. We were actively involved in establishing UN Women and are committed to remaining its second largest core donor. We are also a driving force behind the International Gender Champions initiative, a network launched by Switzerland in New York that brings together, among others, women and men in leadership roles at the UN.
A plus for multilateralism
International Geneva: For more than 100 years, Switzerland has hosted international organisations. As the UN’s European headquarters, Geneva is the operational heart of the multilateral system. The city hosts the most international organisations in the world and is a leading centre for multilateral dialogue and cooperation addressing current and future challenges. Geneva serves as a hub for negotiations on disarmament, human rights, labour rights, health, digital policy and humanitarian issues and regularly welcomes UN-facilitated peace conferences and talks, most recently on Syria, Libya and Yemen. We have the ambition that everyone can be part of the discussion and the decisions: this is why we will continue to provide dedicated support to small states and least developed countries. So far, a total of 177 permanent missions call Geneva their home.
A reliable and responsive partner: Switzerland’s foreign policy seeks to foster lasting strategic partnerships that build on mutual trust. We work closely with our European neighbours, are an active member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie and share close ties with other French-speaking countries. We interact with many regional and sub-regional organisations as a member or partner, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We also cooperate closely with organisations such as the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Caribbean Community. With long-established and friendly relations with all UN members, our development cooperation covers more than 30 countries. We are always ready to listen to and work constructively with all countries: the success of our policies depends on valuable partnerships with governments, the scientific community, civil society and the private sector.
A plus for innovation
We are also a dynamic country for research and development in fields such as medicine and information technology. Swiss space technology is at the forefront: we contributed to Apollo 11 and many other missions, and are working within the UN to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer-space activities. Our education system combines a renowned academic tradition with dual vocational education and training, offering national and international students affordable and high-quality instruction.
Supporting safe and fair digitalisation: Switzerland is shaping the digital transformation, ensuring that technical innovations and digital technologies benefit everyone. They are key to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and meeting other urgent challenges. We recognise the UN’s role in establishing a suitable global framework and support the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. Switzerland advocates for a rules-based international order for the digital world by taking on leading roles in multilateral cooperation on cybersecurity. Geneva’s expertise as a global digital policy hub gives rise to innovative initiatives between states, international organisations, civil society, academia and the private sector.
Backing UN reform: Switzerland remains dedicated to a modern, innovative, effective and efficient UN system and endorses the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. We have made major efforts to reach agreement among the member states on reforming the UN development system. Since the work of the Security Council must be transparent, representative and effective, we coordinate the cross-regional Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group and strive to improve the Council’s working methods.