The Human Rights Room of the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva.
The Human Rights Room of the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva. © UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Human rights are an important pillar of the international system, which is based on universally recognised rules. As a globally networked, independent country, Switzerland also benefits from this system. Human rights are therefore consistently taken into account in the formulation and implementation of Switzerland's foreign policy.

Based on the objectives of the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23, Switzerland attaches particular importance to the freedom of expression, abolishing the death penalty, preventing torture, and minority rights. The Human Rights Guidelines 2021–24 also lay out Switzerland's efforts to promote human rights in the fields of peace and security, the economy, and sustainability. In addition, the FDFA Strategy on Gender Equality and Women's Rights sets out the framework for Switzerland's targeted action in this area. 

Switzerland has access to a wide range of instruments for implementing its human rights policy and deploys these in a varied and flexible manner at the bilateral and multilateral levels.  Switzerland also actively promotes its priorities in numerous regional and international organisations and multilateral forums.

Human rights and democracy

The Federal Constitution tasks the Federal Council with promoting human rights and democracy around the world (Art. 54 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation). In line with the Federal Act on Measures pertaining to Civil Peace Support and the Promotion of Human Rights , the Confederation should “contribute to the rein-forcement of human rights by promoting the civil, political, and economic, social and cultural rights of individuals and groups of people”.

Human rights are defined at several levels of Swiss law, as well as in international agreements such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the human rights conventions of the United Nations.

At the political level, the FPS 20−23 sets out how Switzerland works to protect human rights. Human rights are also an important topic in follow-up strategies, notably the International Cooperation Strategy 2021−24 (IC Strategy 2021–24) , which also establishes goals and instruments for promoting human rights, and the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021−24.

Last update 25.07.2023


Peace and Human Rights Division

Bundesgasse 32
3003 Bern


+41 58 462 30 50

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