The 2016 Foreign Policy Report elucidates the implementation of Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities, which are set out in the Swiss Foreign Policy Strategy 2016–19. Besides Switzerland’s relations with the European Union, with the EU and EFTA states and with its global partners, the report covers peace and security, sustainable development and prosperity, and sectoral foreign policies.
The chapter focusing on Switzerland’s efforts to promote peace and development in the crisis regions stretching from Syria to the Sahel also explains how the instruments of Switzerland’s foreign policy are coordinated and deployed over the long term. Plans to step up humanitarian activities in the future, for example by opening a humanitarian office in Damascus, are particularly important in this respect.
The report also discusses Federal Administration processes that are central for Switzerland’s foreign policy: 2016 was the first year of the implementation of the Swiss Foreign Policy Strategy 2016–19. During the year under review, the Parliament also adopted the Dispatch on International Cooperation 2017-20, which places particular emphasis on coordination between the various services and departments, and the Parliament also approved framework credits for the four-year period of this dispatch as well as loans to renovate the buildings of various international organisations in Geneva, including the complete renovation of the Palais des Nations.
2016 was marked by two major trends: the international order built on common rules and multilateral cooperation was increasingly called into question and there was growing insecurity about developments both in Switzerland’s European environment and worldwide. While these trends call for flexibility, Switzerland can also build on the high degree of continuity and predictability of its foreign policy. Accordingly, in 2016, Switzerland’s foreign policy has been based on the principles of the rule of law, universality and neutrality, and solidarity and responsibility.
In addition to its efforts to ensure a regulated and positive relationship with the EU, Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities were to promote peace and security and strengthen multilateral initiatives and global rules. In this context, the 2016 Foreign Policy Report shows how Switzerland was able to fulfil its constitutional mandate to assert its interests and to make useful contributions to international efforts to ensure stability and the capacity for multilateral action, as well as to building bridges in a partially polarised international environment.
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