Start of page

International humanitarian law (IHL) places restrictions on how armed conflicts and war are conducted. The goal is to protect civilians and non-combatants such as captured fighters. Human rights, refugee law, international criminal law and various national laws provide further protection.

As a contracting party to the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland helps to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflicts with the following priorities:

  • promoting compliance with IHL by all conflicting parties, including non-state armed groups
  • specific actions to help civilians, such as protecting hospitals
  • determining the overall framework for humanitarian activities as provided for by IHL, e.g. through debates in the UN General Assembly and Security Council (Switzerland leads the relevant UN group of friends)

Last update 16.03.2022

  • Rapid, unhindered access for humanitarian organisations is of key importance for populations in need, Swiss measures to secure humanitarian access

  • Switzerland is involved in developing guidelines and recommendations regarding procedures for fact-finding, monitoring and control mechanisms.

  • Protection of IDPs and efforts to defend their rights – a priority of Swiss human rights policy

  • Information on Swiss humanitarian policy regarding gender-based violence

  • Switzerland's engagement and prevention work in combating the recruitment of child soldiers

  • The protection of civilian populations is only possible through dialogue; Swiss initiatives to strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law by armed groups


Peace and Human Rights Division

Bundesgasse 32
3003 Bern


+41 (0)58 462 30 50


+41 (0)58 463 89 22