Haiti and Switzerland maintain close relations, with a particular focus on civil society and the local population. Having French as a common language is an important factor in this relationship. Switzerland has stepped up its humanitarian involvement in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss representation in Port-au-Prince was transformed into an embassy in July 2011. Today its activities, which were initially focused on international cooperation programmes and projects, encompass humanitarian aid, long-term development cooperation, human security and those taking place in the context of the community of French-speaking countries.
A large number of Swiss non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are active in Haiti, some 20 of which have joined forces in the "Haiti en Suisse" platform.
The two countries signed a framework agreement on technical cooperation and humanitarian aid in July 2014.
In 2015, imports from Haiti to Switzerland amounted to some CHF 3.15 million (-6.8%) and exports from Switzerland to Haiti to some CHF 3.04 million (+6.1%). The volume of trade between the two countries is therefore still modest. The fragrance and flavours manufacturers Givaudan and Firmenich are major buyers of essential oils for the perfume industry. Firmenich and the SDC are currently carrying out a pilot project in this sector in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP).
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists from Haiti can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
Since 2010, the FDFA's Human Security Division has been supporting a community security project in a poor neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince with an annual budget of CHF 100,000. This project is being carried out by the Brazilian NGO "Viva Rio".
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has been supporting development projects in Haiti since the end of the 1990s. Switzerland has stepped up its humanitarian activities in the country since the devastating earthquake in 2010. Its commitment in Haiti is oriented to the long-term and its current cooperation strategy has become more strongly focused on longer-term development cooperation.
A framework agreement on the bilateral programme, which was signed in July 2014, places cooperation between the two countries on a stable basis.
Switzerland focuses its activities on the rule of law and good governance, the rural economy and food security, as well as reconstruction and reducing the risks of natural disasters. In addition, it is active in ensuring better coordination between funding agencies with the aim of raising the efficiency of international programmes. Switzerland's bilateral development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Haiti has an annual budget of CHF 20 million.
In addition, Switzerland makes contributions to multilateral organisations active in Haiti, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The SDC's bilateral development cooperation has been supporting a rural development project on drinking water supplies since the end of the 1990s, and a project on the protection of biodiversity since 2004 (last remaining stands of Scots pine). So far, the SDC has extended its involvement to strengthening the rule of law, good governance and human security.
The SDC's Humanitarian Aid opened a cooperation office in Port-au-Prince in 2005 with the aim of managing its own projects and supporting the work of NGOs financed by Switzerland. It stepped up its activities massively after the hurricanes in the summer of 2008 and the earthquake on 12 January 2010.
In July 2011, the cooperation office was incorporated into the Swiss embassy in Port-au-Prince. Since 2013, Haiti has been a priority country for Swiss development cooperation as part of its engagement in fragile contexts.
In addition to its projects to support good governance, the rural economy and food security for the Haitian people, the SDC has made the rebuilding of school infrastructure and the reduction of natural risks the main priorities of its activities within the framework of its cooperation strategy for the 2014–17 period.
Among various other activities Switzerland contributes to financing the international jazz festival in Port-au-Prince.
Swiss nationals in Haiti
In 2015, 142 Swiss nationals were living in Haiti and 525 Haitian nationals were living in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
In 1804, Haiti, which was then a French colony, declared its independence. Switzerland recognised the new state immediately. After a period during which Haiti was occupied by US troops, Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in 1935, which became a consulate in 1959, and a consulate general in 2006, which was upgraded to an embassy in 2007.
In June 2011, the consular services of the representation in Port-au-Prince were transferred to the regional consular centre in Santo Domingo.
Switzerland represented Haitian interests in several countries during the Second World War and in Cuba from 1964 to 1967.