Switzerland is involved in North Korea within the framework of peace promotion and humanitarian assistance efforts. It has repeatedly hosted mediation talks between China, the United States and North Korea.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland is a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC), the legal instrument for the prevention of hostilities on the Korean peninsula. Switzerland conducts a regular political dialogue with North Korea; the 11th meeting took place in October 2013 in Pyongyang.
While the Embassy in Beijing is accredited to Pyongyang, the SDC Cooperation Office is responsible for Swiss humanitarian aid in North Korea. North Korea maintains both an embassy in Bern and a permanent mission in Geneva.
Trade and economic relations are not intensive. North Korea is interested in closer cooperation with a number of Swiss companies.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Scholars and artists from North Corea can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Food shortages are forcing farmers to grow crops on very steep slopes. This leads to deforestation and erosion, thus increasing the risk of natural disasters. Since 2005, the SDC has therefore promoted sustainable agricultural production in cooperation with the government and local partners.
Since 2012, Switzerland has run a purely humanitarian programme in North Korea. Its goals are to improve food and income security, the water supply and wastewater management, as well as environmental protection.
Swiss nationals in North Korea
At the end of 2013, eight Swiss nationals were living in North Korea.
History of bilateral relations
After the end of the Korean War in 1953, Switzerland was appointed to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) on the demarcation line between North and South Korea. This mission marked the first deployment of members of the Swiss Armed Forces abroad. In 1974, Switzerland established diplomatic relations with North Korea. Since 2003, Switzerland has conducted a dialogue with Pyongyang on a regular basis.
From 1997 to 1999, Switzerland hosted Four-Party Talks in Geneva between the two Koreas, China and the US. Switzerland also hosted three additional important meetings in Geneva between the United States and North Korea. The meetings focused on the normalisation of their bilateral relations and on the conditions for a resumption of the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearisation of North Korea.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid began its activities in North Korea in 1995 to provide relief to a population affected by a severe famine. As the focus of activities increasingly shifted to development cooperation, Switzerland opened a cooperation office in Pyongyang in 1997.