Haiti and Switzerland maintain close relations, with a particular focus on civil society. Having French as a common language is an important factor in this relationship. Switzerland has stepped up its humanitarian commitment in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010 and the numerous natural disasters such as hurricanes in 2016 and 2017.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Haiti
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss representation in Port-au-Prince was upgraded to an embassy in July 2011. Nowadays, its activities, which were initially focused on international cooperation programmes and projects, encompass humanitarian aid, long-term development cooperation, human security and those in the context of the use of French as a common language.
A large number of Swiss non-governmental organisations are active in Haiti, some 20 of which have joined forces under the ‘Haïti en Suisse’ platform.
The two countries signed a framework agreement on technical cooperation and humanitarian aid in July 2014.
The volume of trade between the two countries is very limited. In 2017, Swiss imports from Haiti totalled around CHF 5.5 million and exports came to some CHF 3 million.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers in Haiti can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has supported development projects in Haiti since the end of the 1990s. It has significantly strengthened its humanitarian commitment following the earthquake in 2010. Switzerland has adopted a long-term strategy on development cooperation with Haiti.
Switzerland focuses its activities on the rule of law and good governance, the rural economy and food security, as well as on reconstruction and reducing natural hazards. Switzerland's bilateral development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Haiti amounts on average to CHF 18.5 million annually, totalling CHF 74 million for the period 2018–2021.
Switzerland participates in, among other things, funding the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival.
Swiss nationals in Haiti
In 2017, 144 Swiss nationals were living in Haiti.
History of bilateral relations
Haiti, formerly a French colony, declared its independence in 1804. Switzerland recognised the new state immediately. Following a period during which Haiti was occupied by US troops, Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in Port-au-Prince in 1935, which became a consulate in 1959 and a consulate general in 2006. It was upgraded to an embassy in 2011.
In June 2011, the consular services 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.