2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 goals forms a global frame of reference regarding the three inextricably-linked dimensions of the economy, the environment and society. Targeted primarily at disadvantaged and marginalised communities, the SDGs aim to create a fairer, healthier and more peaceful world. Switzerland recognises the 2030 Agenda as an important orientation framework. Although it is not a legally binding, it provides a mechanism for setting domestic and foreign policy objectives and forming opinions. It also serves as a frame of reference for digital foreign policy (see ‘Digital foreign policy’).

5G mobile broadband

The latest generation technology standard for mobile communications, developed to offer faster connection and response times. The fifth-generation standard for mobile communications (5G) combines three innovations: higher transmission speed, lower latency, and network virtualisation, which allows for the creation of virtual networks of varying quality on existing physical network infrastructures. This allows innovations such as direct control of industrial processes, but also poses new network security challenges.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

In 2019, 54 African Union member states signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which provides for the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area. Practical implementation is set to take place in 2021. The aim is to create an African single market, and thus promote trade in Africa, greater regional and continental integration and the development of the African economy. The single market will contain 1.3 billion people.

Agenda 2063

AI systems are machine-based systems that can process problems clearly defined by humans by making predictions, recommendations, or decisions that affect real or virtual environments. AI systems can be designed to have varying degrees of autonomy.

AI system

AI systems are machine-based systems that can process problems clearly defined by humans by making predictions, recommendations, or decisions that affect real or virtual environments. AI systems can be designed to have varying degrees of autonomy.


In arms control policy, ammunition is defined as a device charged with explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics, initiating composition, or nuclear, biological or chemical material. A distinction is made between ammunition for weapons of mass destruction and ammunition for conventional weapons. Conventional ammunition includes ammunition for small arms and light weapons (see ‘Small arms and light weapons’), ammunition for major weapon and equipment systems, rockets, landmines and other types of mines as well as other conventional ammunition.

Anti-missile defence

Anti-missile defence refers to military technology used to detect and protect against enemy missiles. Incoming missiles are usually detected using radar systems; defence instruments include interceptor missiles and lasers.

Arms control

In a broad sense, arms control refers to multilateral or bilateral instruments and efforts to counter the uncontrolled accumulation and proliferation of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Export controls are a component of non-proliferation efforts.

Artificial intelligence

AI is a technology that combines data, algorithms and computing power.

Asset recovery

Restitution of illicitly acquired assets.

Automatic exchange of information (AEOI)

From the global standard adopted by the OECD in 2014 in a drive to achieve greater tax transparency between countries.

Autonomous weapons

Weapons systems which can potentially independently select and engage targets using artificial intelligence, algorithms and sensor inputs.

AVIS 2028

The report ‘Switzerland’s 2028 Foreign Policy Vision’ (AVIS 2028), published in 2019, was drawn up by a working group of high-ranking officials and representatives commissioned by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. It serves as a source of inspiration for the FDFA’s development of Switzerland’s foreign policy by analysing political, environmental, technological and social drivers of change and deriving the medium-term impact on Swiss foreign policy.


Ballistic missiles

Ballistic missiles are projectiles which take a ballistic trajectory during a short guided phase after launch and then fly into the target.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Chinese initiative for the main aspect of the BRI lies in the creation of infrastructure (transport, energy, communication) in third countries, which is predominantly financed and built by China. The BRI is China’s first own, globally-oriented development model with which it seeks to substantiate its growing economic – but above all geopolitical – presence on the international stage. The Federal Council’s policy involves making the most of the opportunities of the BRI for Swiss interests and the economy, and at the same time calling for compliance with universal values and rules to ensure that the BRI can be implemented in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner for the benefit of target countries.

Big data

Big data are extremely large data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data processing software.

Bilateral approach

Since 1993, Switzerland has developed relations with the EU based on the bilateral approach. This policy led to negotiations and the conclusion of the two rounds of agreements Bilaterals I and II, as well as other agreements.

Bilateral development cooperation

Activities carried out in one or several countries as part of bilateral programmes or projects and generally based on a framework agreement between the government of Switzerland and the government of the partner country.

Bilateral dialogue/technical dialogue

Recurring discussions on a technical or political level, between the governments of two states. Dialogues can be used to promote bilateral cooperation or to discuss problems.


The practice of discussing or negotiating foreign policy issues between two parties. If there are more than two parties involved, it is multilateralism (see ‘Multilateralism’).

Biological weapon

Biological weapons spread pathogenic organisms or toxins to harm or kill people, animals or plants. They can be contagious. This means the impact of the deliberate release of biological weapons or toxins is not necessarily limited to the place of release but can instead spread. Such events can also result in food shortages, environmental catastrophes, devastating economic losses and fear and mistrust amongst the population. Together with nuclear and chemical weapons, biological weapons are categorised as weapons of mass destruction (see ‘Weapons of mass destruction’).


Biotechnology is situated within the life sciences and covers a wide range of processes which change living organisms for human purposes that go back to the domestication of animals, the cultivation of plants and their breeding using artificial selection (see ‘life sciences’). Modern usage also covers genetic engineering as well as cell and tissue culture technologies.

Blue helmet missions

Colloquial term for the United Nations peacekeeping forces, which include military units provided by UN member states for peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations and are under the authority of the UN.

Blue Peace

«Blue Peace» is a vision where water is used all over the world as the basis for peaceful coexistence. «Blue Peace» is also a diplomatic initiative of Switzerland. It is based on a series of projects and programmes which promote cross-border, inter-sector and cross-generational cooperation in relation to water at various levels, with the aim of supporting sustainable socio-economic development and contributing to stability, prosperity, security and peace.


The term ‘blockchain’ refers to decentralised collaborative data management. Multiple copies of the data are stored on the computers of a decentralised network. A transaction is carried out without a central authority managing the account. The transactions are grouped in blocks and stored unalterably.

Brain gain

Brain gain – in contrast to brain drain – refers to the economic gain for a country due to the immigration of highly educated or talented people.


The development of an identity – or brand – to build a strong public image. The primary objective of a branding strategy is to connect specific messages and emotions with the brand.

Bretton Woods Institutions

The finance ministers of the Allied nations met at a conference in Bretton Woods (United States) in 1944 to agree on a new set of rules for international reconstruction and monetary policy in the post-war period. This led to the creation of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund. Although their remit has changed, these institutions are still important players in development cooperation and development financing.

Burundi Configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission

The UN Peacebuilding Commission coordinates international efforts after the end of armed conflicts in individual countries. Switzerland has chaired the Commission’s Burundi Configuration since 2009.



Communication measures that are grouped under one brand strategy to achieve a pre-defined communication objective within a fixed period of time, either internationally or in a specific geographical area. 

Chemical weapon

A chemical weapon is any chemical that due to its toxic effects on life processes can bring about death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. The definition of chemical weapons also includes ammunition, devices and other items of equipment specially developed for use as a weapon with toxic chemicals. In addition to nuclear and biological weapons, chemical weapons are categorised as weapons of mass destruction (see ‘Weapons of mass destruction’).

China expertise

The necessary skills and knowledge to be able to represent Switzerland’s interests in an optimal manner and cooperate successfully with China. In addition to language skills and intercultural abilities, this includes a basic understanding of China’s economy, politics, modern history and society.

Chinese system of governance

The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state led by the Communist Party of China, commonly known as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP has 90 million members and is headed by the Politburo’s 7-member Standing Committee, currently presided over by Xi Jinping. All branches of state power – the executive (presidential office and State Council), the legislature (the National People’s Congress), the judiciary and the People’s Liberation Army – are thus effectively in the hands of the CCP. Another eight parties nominally take part in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, but at most take on representative functions, e.g. at the local level. State control over the means of production has been loosened since 1978, but the CCP continues to run many state-owned enterprises (including industrial, finance, and media companies), while larger private-sector firms are obliged to accommodate Party cells.

Circular economy

The circular economy is an integral approach which takes account of the entire life cycle of the materials used, from raw materials extraction, to the design, manufacturing and distribution of a product, to its longest possible lifespan and recycling. The circular economy closes material and product cycles so that raw materials can continually be reused. This results in the consumption of less primary raw materials than in the linear economic system. The product value is also maintained for longer and less waste is produced.

Civil and political rights

Civil and political rights are enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which entered into force in Switzerland on 18 September 1992. Historically speaking, civil and political rights were the first to be constitutionally recognised in Western states, which is why they are described as ‘first generation’ rights. They include, among others: the right to life and security; the right not to be subjected to torture; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom of expression and association.

Civil society

This comprises the parts of society that are distinct from the government and private sector. It is made up of groups who have common interests, goals or values. These include NGOs, associations and foundations, citizen groups, religious organisations, political parties, professional associations, unions, social movements and interest groups.

Cloud computing

This involves the provision of IT infrastructures, in particular storage, processing power and software, via a computer network without having to be installed on the local computer.

Cluster munitions

Cluster munitions belong to the family of conventional weapons and are designed to disperse or release certain explosive sub-munitions. In this context, see also the Convention on Cluster Munitions.


The coordination and pursuit of consistent policies and approaches in different areas of national policy.

Complementary measures

Selective measures carried out by SECO upon request and within the framework of its thematic mandate in addition to its usual activities in SECO priority countries. This work complements other priority areas of the Federal Administration, particularly the SDC and SEM.

Confidence-building measures

Measures taken in political, economic or social areas to increase transparency and confidence between parties in order prevent the outbreak or escalation of conflicts. These may include joint activities to address a certain problem, establishing reliable communication channels or the institutionalisation of contacts. The participating States have agreed on 16 confidence-building measures with regard to cyberspace. The term ‘confidence and security-building measures’ is used in a military context.

Confidence and security-building measures in Europe

The term stems from the Helsinki Final Act, which sets out the “need to contribute to reducing the dangers of armed conflict and of misunderstanding or miscalculation of military activities.” The key document covering this issue is the Vienna Document.

Conflict cycle

In the OSCE, this term was coined as part of the milestone 2011 Ministerial Council Decision about the elements of the conflict cycle. The Decision focused on the four key areas within the conflict cycle: early warning, early action, dialogue facilitation and post-conflict rehabilitation.

Consular services

This comprises the services that the FDFA provides as a one-stop shop alone or with other authorities, partner states or external service providers for the benefit of Swiss nationals abroad. This includes assistance in the event of emergencies abroad where those affected cannot reasonably be expected or are not able to defend their interests themselves or with the help of third parties. Other consular services are those of an administrative nature (e.g. authentications), emigration and return migration advice, issues relating to civil status, citizenship and identity documents, and many more. They comprise a range of services that is comparable to that offered to Swiss nationals living in Switzerland by authorities at communal level and are based on, among other things, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Swiss Abroad Act. Consular services also include the processing of visa applications submitted through a Swiss representation abroad.

Conventional arms control in Europe

According to the ‘Framework for Arms Control’ set out in the Lisbon Document (adopted at the OSCE summit in December 1996), arms control, including disarmament and confidence and security-building, is integral to the OSCE’s comprehensive and cooperative concept of security. The framework document sets out four key principles for future negotiations: sufficiency, transparency through information exchange, verification and limitations on forces. The following treaties are considered as the three pillars for conventional arms control in Europe: the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Treaty on Open Skies and the Vienna Document.

Conventional weapons

Conventional weapons are all weapons that are not weapons of mass destruction. Heavy conventional weapons include, for example, combat tanks, artillery systems, armoured combat vehicles, combat helicopters, fighter aircraft and warships. Small arms and light weapons also come under the conventional weapons category (see ‘Small arms and light weapons’), as well as anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions, and other types of conventional munitions.

Cooperative security

A security framework that relies on inclusion and dialogue and thus differs from collective security systems (e.g. coercive measures) and collective defence (alliances, deterrence). The term is used specifically in connection with the OSCE. Further characteristics of cooperative security within the framework of the OSCE include the principle of unanimity and thus the sovereign equality of states, the political (and not legal) nature of obligations, the promotion of security by cooperating on a wide range of issues and the reliance on confidence and security-building measures.

Critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure refers to organisations or facilities of fundamental importance to the functioning of public bodies, the failure of or damage to which would result in long-lasting supply bottlenecks, significant disruption to public security or other dramatic consequences.

Cross-border water management

153 out of 195 countries worldwide share their water resources (rivers, lakes, groundwater etc.) with neighbouring states. Cross-border water management develops integral strategies and planning instruments for the sustainable, inter-state use of water resources where there are conflicting claims to use from all neighbouring states and a need to protect water resources exists.


Intentional unauthorised act committed by a person or group in cyberspace in order to compromise the integrity, confidentiality or availability of information and data; depending on the type of attack, this may also have physical effects.

Cyber diplomacy

Cyber diplomacy safeguards Switzerland’s interests and values in cyberspace. Cyberspace comprises the network infrastructure, as well as software and social components (human interaction). The continuing integration of all areas of life in cyberspace presents both opportunities and risks. Switzerland therefore works to enforce international law (i.e. human rights and international humanitarian law) in cyberspace and is committed to intergovernmental confidence-building. Switzerland is also exploring new avenues, promoting science diplomacy and provides good offices in relation to cyberspace (see ‘Good offices’).

Cyber security

Cyber security concerns all aspects of security in information and communications technology. This includes all information technology associated with the internet and comparable networks, and incorporates communication, applications, processes and information processed on this basis. International cooperation of state- and non-state actors in the area of cyber security aims to develop and protect an open, free and stable cyberspace. It can also reduce the risks of cyberattacks between states.


Cyberspace refers to a virtual information space created by humans. It is used for digital data processing and networking and the logging and management of systems and processing. Cyberspace is part of the more broadly defined digital space (see ‘Digital space’).



In information technology and data processing, data are understood to be representations of information (usually in digital format) that can be read and processed (by a machine).

Data protection

The protection of personal data from misuse, often in conjunction with privacy protection.


This term means reducing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons. De-alerting is a key element in risk reduction and can contribute towards reducing the role and importance of nuclear weapons in military and security policy concepts, doctrines and strategies.


Mainly used in relation to nuclear weapons, the deterrence doctrine is a military strategy based on the balance of terror. Mutually assured destruction deters an adversary from launching an (initial) attack based on the threat of also being impacted on a critical scale as a consequence.

Developing country

A low or middle-income country which appears on the OECD list of ODA-eligible countries.

Digital channels

Communication channels based on digital networks, for example social media.

Digital communication

All communication that takes place on digital networks.

Digital divide

This describes inequalities in access to, and use of, digital technologies.

Digital foreign policy

This term refers to the design and implementation of foreign policy (i.e. safeguarding interests and promoting values) in the digital space (see ‘Foreign policy’, ‘Digital space’).

Digital governance

This refers to the establishment, shaping and consolidation of institutional and regulatory systems and of mechanisms for international cooperation in the digital space (see ‘Global governance’, ‘Digital space’).

Digital self-determination

The individual should be at the heart of digitalisation (see ‘Digitalisation’). People should be able to control and use their data and decide who can access them. This approach also guarantees fundamental values such as privacy and freedom of choice in the digital space. The aim is to establish high-quality data spaces which benefit society and reinforce democratic values.

Digital space

This term refers to the entire physical and virtual space that is opened up or permeated by digitalisation (see ‘Digitalisation). The digital space refers not only to systems, but also to actors and processes.

Digital technologies

These are devices, programmes or infrastructure that enable information to be digitally processed, stored or transmitted.


Digitalisation involves the integration of digital technologies in society, government and business. Digitalisation comprises a wide range of digital applications, such as new communication technologies, robotics, cloud computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and 3D printing. It also permeates other areas of our day-to-day lives, in some cases fundamentally altering them.


Disarmament refers to national and international efforts to reduce the quantity of arms or to limit their effects, in order to increase international stability and security. Switzerland is committed to an international ban and the elimination of all categories of weapons of mass destruction.


Disinformation is the targeted dissemination of false information with the aim of deceiving society, individual groups or individuals for political or economic purposes. Disinformation also refers to false information itself.

Do no harm

Method to plan and evaluate programmes in order to analyse the impact of development policy interventions on conflict situations and to develop options for adapting the measures in place in a conflict-sensitive manner. This approach involves checking the individual components of a project for factors that may either drive or prevent conflict. (Mary B. Anderson, 1999).

Drones (also pilotless aircraft)

A drone is a pilotless aircraft which can be operated and navigated autonomously via remote control by a computer or from the ground without a crew on board.

Dual-use goods

Goods that can be used for both civil and military purposes, with goods encompassing physical goods, technologies and software. The export of dual-use goods is subject to authorisation to ensure that they will be used neither to make, develop, use, transfer, nor deploy weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery nor for destabilising conventional armament.

Durable solutions (in the field of migration)

Switzerland’s activities to support internally displaced persons aim to ensure they can achieve self-reliance over the long-term. Switzerland adopts a sustainable approach to meeting migrants’ specific need for protection and the needs of host communities.


Economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights)

ESC rights are enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, which entered into force in Switzerland on 18 September 1992. Economic, social and cultural rights are in many cases less binding because, in contrast to civil and political rights, they are sometimes insufficiently concrete for use in legal proceedings (i.e. they are not justiciable). States are nevertheless obliged to guarantee these rights to all persons, and to adopt an active policy encouraging their progressive realisation.

Economic connectivity

The second OSCE dimension, the economic and environmental dimension, primarily seeks to promote good economic framework conditions for security and stability as well as connectivity among the participating States. This approach to connecting international politics and business is carried by the conviction that lasting peace and stability will never be achieved in the OSCE region unless economic ties are strengthened across the board.

E-3 countries

These are the European countries France, Germany and the United Kingdom, which, together with China, Russia and the United States, have shaped the negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear development programme.

Embargo Act

Switzerland is implementing sanctions against a number of states in the MENA region on the basis of the Embargo Act (SR 946.231). Upholding sanctions that are based on broad international support is in the interests of Switzerland’s foreign policy, which is geared to compliance with international law and humanitarian values. Switzerland is obliged by international law to support sanctions decided on by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. If the EU imposes sanctions, the Federal Council decides in the individual case whether Switzerland will adopt the measures introduced by the EU in their entirety, in part or not at all. The Federal Council has various foreign policy, foreign economic policy and legal criteria on which to base its decision.

Equality of opportunity or Equal opportunities

An equal opportunity society guarantees all members – particularly at the beginning of their lives – unobstructed access to life’s opportunities, in particular the same educational and career opportunities, and the opportunity to reach their full potential. No person may be discriminated against, in particular on grounds of origin, race, gender, age, language, social position, way of life, religious, ideological, or political convictions, or because of a physical, mental or psychological disability (Cst. Art. 8 para. 2).

ERI sector

The education, research and innovation (ERI) sector, which is the topic of the Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for the period 2021–24.

Europe’s security architecture

A globally unique framework of regional organisations: the EU, NATO, OSCE and European Council. This has given rise to a security regime encompassing all of Europe, with its origins in the Helsinki Process during the Cold War. In addition to the OSCE, its most important pillars include the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Russia as well as the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

Export control

Export control makes the transfer of certain goods subject to authorisation. The controlled categories of goods generally include armaments or dual-use goods which can be used for developing, manufacturing, using, transferring, or deploying weapons of mass destruction or can facilitate the manufacturing of conventional weapons.

External network

Switzerland’s external network comprises around 170 representations abroad (embassies, permanent missions to the UN/international organisations, general consulates, cooperation offices and other representations) and roughly 200 honorary representations (as at December 2020). The external network focuses on the principles of universality, coherence and effectiveness. It is an important instrument for safeguarding Switzerland’s interests.

Extreme poverty

Since 2015 the World Bank has defined extreme poverty as income of less than USD 1.90 a day. The definition is regularly adapted to reflect changes in living costs.


Facial recognition

A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying the identity of a person on the basis of a digital image or video frame.

Facilitation and mediation

A third party who mediates between parties to a conflict is known as either a facilitator or a mediator. A facilitator supports and promotes contact between parties to a conflict without substantively contributing to the negotiations. They are chosen by the parties to a conflict, as also in a mediation situation, and allow them to meet at a suitable location, discuss possible ways of resolving the conflict, conduct negotiations and sign an agreement. A mediator is a third party who also substantively supports the negotiating parties in finding solutions without imposing them. Facilitation and mediation are part of Switzerland’s good offices.

Fake news

This refers to false stories that are spread with the intent of misleading or manipulating. Such content can quickly reach a wide audience on social media.


Brand name used in the campaign to promote the Swiss financial centre.


This term is derived from financial technology and comprises innovations in the field of financial services that result in new financial instruments, services or business models, e.g. blockchain.

Flexible funds

Funds that finance short or medium-term selective measures aimed at 1) establishing a link with migration policy, 2) supporting regional or cross-border dynamics, or 3) leveraging specific opportunities related to IC Strategy 2025–28 priorities and that are in line with Swiss foreign policy geographical and thematic strategies.


This term is derived from ‘food technology’ and describes technological solutions for the production or processing of food.

Forced displacement

The involuntary or coercive displacement of people, resulting from a variety of causes such as persecution, systematic human rights abuses, armed conflicts and natural disasters.

Foreign policy

Foreign policy shapes the relations of a state with other states and international organisations, and safeguards the state’s interests abroad. It comprises various policy areas, such as trade policy, environment policy, security policy, development policy and cultural policy. In Switzerland, the Federal Council is responsible for foreign policy. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is responsible for coordinating foreign policy and ensuring coherence with other departments (see section on ‘Coherence’).


The OECD defines fragility as a combination of exposure to risk and insufficient coping capacity of the state, system and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks. Fragility can lead to negative outcomes including violence, the breakdown of institutions, displacement, humanitarian crises or other emergencies.

Free trade agreement

Treaty under international law to establish and guarantee free trade among states parties or international legal entities. Free trade agreements remove trade barriers between the parties, which remain free to pursue an autonomous trade policy with regard to third countries.

Freedom Online Coalition

In October 2019, Switzerland joined the Freedom Online Coalition. The group, which was founded in 2011 based on an initiative by the Netherlands, consists of more than 30 states that work to promote democracy and human rights online. The right to privacy and the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and free association are of particular importance within this context.



The group of twenty is an informal alliance of 19 states and the EU, which represents the most important developed and emerging economies. It addresses financial and economic cooperation and can set international standards.

General contribution

Financial contribution granted to multilateral organisations according to subsidy regulations and untied to any specific project, thematic focus or country in order to fund their work.

Geneva centres

Since 2014, the Maison de la paix in Geneva has been the home of a world renowned cluster of expertise in foreign, security and peace policy. It houses three foundations: the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

Geneva Conventions

The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977, as well as the Additional Protocol of 2005, form the core of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts (see ‘International humanitarian law’). Among other things, they protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities and govern the conduct of war.

Geneva International Discussions (GIDs)

The GIDs are talks to address the consequences of the 2008 conflict in Georgia. They were launched in October 2008 in Geneva and are jointly led by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), with representatives from Georgia, Russia, the US and the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Global governance

This term refers to the development of an institutional and regulatory system and of mechanisms for international cooperation to tackle global problems and cross-border matters. It involves the UN system, international organisations, state- and non-state actors and regional organisations. Switzerland traditionally plays a key role in this, and International Geneva is one of the key centres (see ‘International Geneva’).

Global priority countries

In 2005, the Federal Council decided to be more systematic about developing cooperation with priority countries outside the EU. Relations with Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States have since been strengthened on the basis of country strategies. Within the scope of international cooperation, this term is used for countries in which the majority of bilateral development cooperation aid is deployed. These are not the same countries.

Global measures and Global programmes

Measures (SECO) and programmes (SDC) addressing global challenges whose effects are felt beyond national borders and require a collective response (migration, climate change and environment, water, food security and health). Their aim is to help resolve these problems by shaping and setting universally recognised standards. They seek to shape the international normative framework through engagement in intergovernmental processes, global and regional initiatives and innovative action in specific countries.

Global South

Just like the term «West», «Global South» does not designate a precise geographical or political area. Many countries included in the Global South are located in the northern hemisphere. The term stems from development cooperation and is used with reference to inequalities between developed and developing countries, seen from a North-South as opposed to an East-West perspective. Following the end of the Cold War, the term «Third World» was superseded by «Global South». Nowadays, it is more than just an economic development term. It is also used in the context of political marginalisation, underrepresentation in global organisations and relations with the West.

Good offices

This is an umbrella term to describe the efforts of a third party to peacefully settle a conflict between two or more states. Switzerland’s good offices consist of three areas: protecting power mandates (see ‘Protecting power mandates’), Switzerland as a host state for peace negotiations and Switzerland as a mediator and facilitator and as a supporter of mediation and negotiation processes (see ‘Facilitation and mediation’). Good offices range from technical and organisational support (e.g. providing a conference venue) to mediation services and participation in international peace processes.

Governance (good governance)

Democratic, efficient and effective governing processes for the benefit of all citizens. This includes political decision-making in transparent, participative processes; clearly allocated responsibilities; effective public services; an accessible, professional, independent legal system based on the rule of law and political control through a critical public.

Grant-making foundation

Charitable foundation that is not reliant on donations or endowments for the financing of its activities because it has its own assets and finances its activities with the income from the use of these assets (or in the case of asset-consuming foundations also with the assets themselves).


Helsinki Final Act

On 1 August 1975, representatives of 35 Western and Eastern bloc countries signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki. Founded as a multinational forum for dialogue and negotiations between East and West, it aims to help launch joint projects in the areas of culture, science, economics and disarmament and contribute towards security and respect for human rights. In the Final Act, the participating States formulated ten principles to govern their relations. These include sovereign equality and respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty, refraining from the threat or use of force and the inviolability of frontiers. The Act provided an innovative, broad definition of security: in addition to traditional politico-military aspects, it also took into account economic, environmental and human rights aspects.

Host state

This term describes a country that hosts foreign representations (embassies, missions, consulates) or international organisations. Switzerland – and Geneva in particular (see ‘International Geneva’) – hosts a multitude of international organisations.

House of Switzerland

Brand used for temporary appearances organised as part of Presence Switzerland’s communication activities. 

Human rights

Human rights are inherent and inalienable rights that all people enjoy without distinction by virtue of their being human. They are crucial to the protection of human dignity, physical and psychological integrity and are an important foundation for the development of every individual. They are the basis of the peaceful coexistence of nations. They are guarantors of a society based on the obligation to respect the rights of the individual. They apply in both international relations and domestic policy, but also at the place of residence of every individual. Human rights are universal, indivisible and interrelated. Every state is obliged to respect, protect and implement human rights.

Human rights defenders

This term is used to describe people who play a vital role in protecting human rights, peacefully resolving conflicts, and reinforcing the rule of law. The term was internationally recognised in 1998 in the UN General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (A/RES/53/144).

Humanitarian principles

Humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are key values and principles of humanitarian action. They were laid down in the Code of Conduct of the Red Cross Movement, and by the UN General Assembly.

Hybrid platform

Communication phenomenon whereby physical elements and digital channels are used together to help deliver a message to a wide audience, while bearing in mind the respective opportunities and limitations.

Hypersonic weapon

A hypersonic weapon is a missile that travels at hypersonic speed for a long period of time (faster than Mach 5), using the Earth’s atmosphere for propulsion. These weapons systems combine the benefits of intercontinental and cruise missiles. On the one hand, a hypersonic weapon is fast and has a large range which means any point on Earth can be reached in theory. On the other, hypersonic missiles can be flexibly controlled during flight.


Image (of a country)

The sum of opinions, ideas and impressions the public (abroad) connects with a country

Impact investing

Impact investing is a strategy which aims to generate a positive social and/or environmental impact and, at the same time, yield returns on its investments.


A geostrategic concept that is increasingly finding its way into the foreign policy discourse of various Western states. It is based on the idea that the Indian and Pacific oceans should be seen as a connected geostrategic area since the coastal states are increasingly interconnected.

Informal sector

The part of an economy whose economic activities are not recorded in the official statistics.


The Federal Act of 14 December 2012 on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA) defines innovation as the development and exploitation of new products, methods, processes and services.

Institutional issues

Within the framework of Switzerland’s relations with the EU, institutional issues concern the uniform application of market access agreements between Switzerland and the EU. Institutional procedures are designed to establish how the contracting parties will apply these agreements, in particular with provisions on legal development, the monitoring and interpretation of the agreements and dispute resolution.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)

IWRM is a process based on the coordinated and harmonised development and management of water, land and related resources. IWRM expressly aims to maximise economic and social prosperity fairly, without jeopardising the sustainability of ecosystems vital to life and the environment.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to the products of innovation or creativity, such as inventions, logos and designs. Intellectual property rights include patents, trademarks, trade secrets and designs.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration (ICM)

In the area of migration, the ICM structure is intended to strengthen cooperation between actors in the federal administration and ensure coherence in Switzerland’s migration foreign policy. This coordination is aimed at achieving a stronger strategic link between international cooperation (IC) and migration policy so as to alleviate the causes of irregular and forced migration. The flexibly deployable IC funds provide additional support here.

Interests and values

The core mission of Switzerland’s foreign policy is to promote the country’s interests and values, which are two inextricably linked sides of the same coin and are based on the Federal Constitution.

International cooperation (IC)

All instruments of humanitarian aid, development cooperation, peacebuilding and human security deployed by the FDFA and EAER.

International Geneva

Geneva is the heart of the multilateral system and the location of the UN’s European headquarters. Thirty-eight international organisations, programmes and funds, as well as 179 states and 750 NGOs are represented there. International Geneva provides 45,000 jobs and contributes more than 11% to the GDP of the canton (1% of Swiss GDP). Around 3,300 international conferences are held in Geneva every year, the main themes of which are:

  1. peace, security, disarmament;
  2. humanitarian aid and international humanitarian law, human rights, migration;
  3. labour, economy, trade, science, telecommunications;
  4. health;
  5. the environment and sustainable development.

International humanitarian law

International humanitarian law governs the conduct of hostilities and protects the victims of armed conflicts. It applies in all international and non-international armed conflicts, regardless of the legitimacy or cause of the use of force.

International law

International law is the result of collaboration between states and regulates how they coexist. It underpins peace and security and aims to ensure the protection and well-being of persons. International law comprises different areas, such as the prohibition of the use of force, protection of individuals during wars and conflicts (see international humanitarian law), prevention and prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, transnational organised crime and terrorism. It also regulates other areas, such as the environment, trade, development, telecommunications and transport. On account of the sovereignty of states, international law only applies for each state insofar as it has agreed to adopt certain international obligations. This excludes mandatory international law, which comprises basic standards that no state may override, such as the prohibition of genocide.

International organisations

International organisations are long-term alliances formed by at least two countries. They are entrusted with the independent performance of their own tasks and therefore have at least one body through which they act. They are generally based on a multilateral founding treaty (also called statutes or charter) which sets out the organisation’s mandates and bodies.

International technology transfer

Transfer of technical and/or management knowledge for further development and application in other areas. Transfers take place between companies and/or units of companies located in different countries.

Investment controls

Legal mechanism for the systematic screening of foreign investments.

Internet governance

Internet governance is the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet (see ‘Global governance’).

Irregular migration

Movement of persons that takes place outside the laws, regulations, or international agreements governing the entry into or exit from the state of origin, transit or destination.

Issue monitoring

In the context of communication abroad, this refers to the constant monitoring, analysis and evaluation of public opinion (abroad) with a focus on strategically relevant themes. It aims to recognise reputational risks and opportunities as early as possible in order to exploit promising avenues for communication and develop strategies to defend against threats to the country’s image when required.



This term is used to denote a violent, extremist ideology that abuses the religious concept of jihad and legitimises itself in this way. ‘Jihad-motivated travellers’ refers to people who leave their country of origin or residence to join or support a jihadist group in an area of conflict.


Khartoum Process

The Khartoum Process aims to promote dialogue and cooperation on migration between states of origin, transit states and destination states along the migration route from the Horn of Africa to Europe. The initiative was launched in 2014 by the European Union and African Union.


Leading house

Leading houses help foster international cooperation on research and innovation with regions that have great development potential in terms of science and technology. The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, with support from the University of Basel, is the leading house for bilateral science cooperation with partner institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Life sciences

All sciences focusing on living nature and the scientific exploration of life, e.g. biology, the neurosciences and medicine (see ‘Biotechnology’).



Under the arrangements for international cooperation engagement with other actors, mandates refer to contracts awarded to an NGO or another international cooperation actor in accordance with public procurement rules on transparency and competitiveness for the provision of services.


Derived from ‘medicine’ and ‘technology’, this term describes endeavours to develop technological products for use in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

Migration partnership

Agreement by states to cooperate extensively on migration. It establishes a general framework for their cooperation and enables the interests of all parties concerned to be taken into account.

Mine Action

Mine action refers to all activities which aim to reduce the social, economic and environmental impact of mines and explosive remnants of war, including unexploded sub-munitions. It comprises five complementary groups of activities: mine risk education, humanitarian demining (including surveys, mapping, marking and clearance of contaminated areas), victim assistance (including medical care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration), stockpile destruction and advocacy for the ban of anti-personnel mines and sub-munitions.


A mine is a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle.


A minority is a population group with ethnic, linguistic, cultural or religious characteristics that differ from those of a numerically superior group within the territory of a state. Switzerland, whose identity is based on pluralism and the coexistence of different communities, is working in China and elsewhere to ensure that minorities have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language.

Minsk Group (for Nagorno-Karabakh)

Since 1992, the Minsk Group, which is led by co-chairs from the United States, France and the Russian Federation as well as the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, has discussed approaches to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Mixed migration

Population groups where the causes of migration differ or groups with different reasons for migration (refugees, internal displacement, labour migration) using various migration routes.


Multilateralism is when issues of public interest are discussed and negotiated between more than two states (cf. ‘Bilateralism’). International organisations and bodies such as the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe are platforms for such discussions. Multilateralism allows Switzerland to achieve leverage through alliances and thus increase its influence.

Multi-stakeholder approach

This refers to the idea that as many relevant stakeholders as possible should be involved in decisions and regulatory efforts.



Switzerland’s rights and obligations as a neutral state are derived from international law (see ‘International law’). The core of these obligations involves Switzerland not being allowed to offer military support in the event of an inter-state conflict. At national level, neutrality is mentioned in the Federal Constitution as an instrument to safeguard Switzerland’s independence. The neutrality policy ensures the effectiveness and credibility of Switzerland’s neutrality.

Neutral and non-aligned states

In the first phase of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, there were three groups of states – the NATO States; the Soviet Union and members of the Warsaw Pact; and the neutral and non-aligned states. The latter included neutral states (Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Ireland) and the non-aligned Yugoslavia, and were later joined by Malta and Cyprus.


Structural combination of various international cooperation instruments (humanitarian aid, development cooperation, peacebuilding and human security) as part of a project, especially during protracted crises.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Any private, non-profit organisation that operates at local, national or international level to pursue common goals and ideals with no significant state-controlled involvement or representation. NGOs are part of civil society (see ‘Civil society’).


A key element of arms control is the non-proliferation of arms and dual-use goods. It includes international efforts to control the proliferation of certain weapons systems, components and technologies and to prevent the uncontrolled or undesired build-up of arms. A key instrument of non-proliferation is export control (see ‘Export control’).

Nuclear weapons

A nuclear weapon’s impact is based on nuclear physical reactions – nuclear fission and/or fusion. Together with biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction (see ‘Weapons of mass destruction’). When a nuclear weapon explodes, a huge amount of energy is released in the form of heat, blast waves and ionising radiation. Accordingly, their impact is massive and they have long-term consequences.


ODA/GNI ratio

The ODA/GNI ratio quantifies the financial commitments made by donor countries by comparing them to their gross national income (GNI). It represents a statistical indicator and is not a steering instrument. The ratio is calculated a posteriori, i.e. after the annual accounts are closed. Its components can fluctuate considerably. This is mainly due to cyclical variations in GNI and to asylum costs, which are hard to forecast. These fluctuations can have an impact on the ODA/GNI ratio, sometimes even when international cooperation funding remains unchanged.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is a UN entity and part of the Secretariat of the United Nations United Nations, responsible for promoting and protecting human rights. The office coordinates human rights activities across the entire UN system.

Official development assistance (ODA)

The OECD defines ODA as “all flows to developing countries and territories on the OECD list and to multilateral development organisations that:

  1. are provided by official agencies;
  2. are administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as their main objective; and
  3. are concessional in character”.

One Health approach

Approach that brings together the human, veterinary and environmental sciences in order to achieve better public health outcomes.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC) is an independent institution based in The Hague which has monitored implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997, the year in which it entered into force. The OPCW supports and monitors those states that have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in matters of demilitarisation, non-proliferation, cooperation and the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Convention has been ratified by 193 states to date.

OSCE field mission

OSCE presence with responsibility for a certain territory. Each field mission has a specific mandate, which is negotiated with the host country and agreed upon by consensus by all participating States. The mandate usually exists for the territory of an entire country, but in some cases can be agreed for specific areas only. The field missions implement the OSCE’s approach to security in the area for which they are responsible.

OSCE participating States

The OSCE emerged from a series of conferences and does not have its own legal personality. Therefore, it is not strictly speaking an international organisation. That is why the term ‘member states’ is not used, but instead ‘participating States’.


Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Climate Agreement is a legally binding instrument under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It aims to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.


Actors with whom Switzerland’s international cooperation works to achieve its objectives. They include governments, multilateral organisations, private companies, NGOs, grantmaking foundations, academic institutions or any other relevant actor.


 Civilian peacebuilding includes contributions to the prevention, mitigation and resolution of violent conflicts, in particular through confidence-building, mediation and the promotion of international humanitarian law and human rights (see ‘Facilitation and mediation’, ‘International humanitarian law’ and ‘Human rights’). Post-conflict peacebuilding activities comprise a range of activities, including dealing with the past, contributions to promoting democratic processes and elections, and strengthening human rights. Peacebuilding creates and reinforces the framework conditions necessary for sustainable development. It comprises both civilian and military measures.

Pop-up House of Switzerland

Refers to the use of the House of Switzerland brand outside of major official events. The focus is on temporary communication activities at a physical location in a specific country for a period of up to six months. 

Presence Switzerland Image Monitor

The Image Monitor uses regular representative population surveys to capture an up-to-date picture of how Switzerland is perceived by the general public abroad. The aim is to identify developments and trends in the way Switzerland is perceived.

Preventing violent extremism (PVE)

Comprehensive approach to tackling the direct and structural causes leading to violent extremism and terrorism.


Switzerland’s foreign policy is guided in particular by the constitutional principles of freedom, the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and sustainability. Regarding implementation, the key principles are universality, multilateralism and neutrality.

Priority countries

Countries where the SDC and SECO fund and carry out multi-year programmes in line with Switzerland's three main criteria for its international cooperation (IC) activities: the needs of the local people, Switzerland's long-term interests, and the added value of Swiss IC.


Many human rights agreements and treaties secure spaces where individuals can freely develop and flourish without external interference. Both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art. 17) and the ECHR (Art. 8) guarantee privacy, ensuring that states may not interfere in private or family life without due cause. At a time when surveillance, digital data interception and the collection of personal data are becoming increasingly common, protecting privacy is of the utmost importance.

Private sector

The private sector refers to actors which are not majority-owned by the State and exist for the purpose of generating profits. In the present strategy, the term also includes social enterprises, impact investors and certain grant-making foundations (primarily those of multinational companies).


A programme comprises several projects that are tied to a specific country or thematic focus.

Programme contribution

Contribution granted to NGOs according to subsidy regulations and untied to any specific project, thematic focus or country in order to fund their international programmes.

Project contribution

Contribution granted to development actors (primarily NGOs and multilateral organisations) according to subsidy regulations in order to fund specific projects implemented within the framework of Switzerland’s international cooperation activities.

Protecting power

A protecting power comes into effect when a state breaks off diplomatic and/or consular relations with another state. If all the parties involved agree, the protecting power takes on the functions agreed with the sending state, grants protection to citizens of that state and/or represents its interests in the host state. Protecting power mandates allow states to maintain low-level relations. At the end of 2019, Switzerland had seven protecting power mandates: it represents Iran in Egypt, the United States in Iran, Georgia in Russia, Russia in Georgia, Iran in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia in Iran and Iran in Canada.


Foreign trade policy that aims to protect the domestic economy by imposing tariffs or import restrictions.

Public diplomacy

Strategic communication measures aimed at creating approval and understanding for one’s own country and its politics abroad. Unlike classical diplomacy, which is primarily directed at foreign governments, public diplomacy also addresses the general public.

Public relations

The goal of public relations work is to build trust, credibility and sympathy and generate a positive public image. In communication abroad, different instruments are used to achieve this depending on the context and target audience. They range from simply providing information and promotional material to using specific communication channels and organising events and occasions for particular target groups.


Rabat Process

Euro-African dialogue on migration and development launched in 2006. It aims to establish a framework for dialogue and consultation for managing the challenges related to the East African migration route. It brings together more than 50 European countries and countries from North, West and Central Africa as well as the European Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Readmission agreements

They aim to ensure the quick and safe repatriation of persons with irregular residence status to their country of origin. They govern the implementing arrangements, procedure and expulsion deadlines between Switzerland and the country of origin.


A refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol regulate the status of refugees. The principle of non-refoulement is particularly important. It forbids a country receiving refugees to expel or return (‘refouler’) them to a territory where their life or freedom would be threatened.

Regional security organisation

Under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, Members are encouraged to enter into regional security arrangements and “make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies before referring them to the Security Council”. The largest regional security organisation is the OSCE.

Risk reduction (nuclear weapons)

Risk reduction in relation to nuclear weapons, sometimes also called ‘strategic risk reduction’, includes measures which contribute towards limiting the risk of the intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons. Hotlines are a key element of risk reduction in relation to accidents, miscalculations, miscommunication or the outbreak of a nuclear war.

Rule of law

The rule of law refers to the supremacy of law over the rule of might. At national level, the fundamental objective of the rule of law is to safeguard the primacy of the law at all levels of government and to protect the associated freedom of citizens. In terms of foreign policy, the rule of law is crucial to international peace and security, economic and social progress, development and the protection of rights and human freedoms. It is primarily achieved by strengthening international law, which guarantees political stability and the reliability of international relations (see ‘International law’).

Rules-based international order

This term refers to rules that apply equally to all states and are the prerequisite for peaceful coexistence within the international community. In addition to norms of international law, this order includes non-legally binding standards and rules of conduct. Switzerland is dependent on a rules-based order for its prosperity, security and independence. This also includes multilateral standards and rules necessary for effective results-oriented multilateralism (see also ‘Multilateralism’).


Science diplomacy

This term refers to, for example, the use of scientific collaboration between states to address common problems and to develop international partnerships. At the interface between science, technology and foreign policy, articulating issues and objectives from a scientific perspective can support confidence-building and stimulate both bilateral and multilateral discussions. Science diplomacy is also an important approach in digital foreign policy, especially at the multilateral level.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

All actions (technical tags, advertisements, etc.) that help display digital content in a search engine.

Small arms and light weapons

Man-portable weapons. Small arms are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for indi­vidual use. They include, inter alia, revolvers and assault rifles. Light weapons are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for use by several persons serving as a crew. They include, inter alia, heavy machine guns, portable anti-aircraft guns and mortars of a caliber of less than 100 millimetres.

Social enterprise

A business whose primary purpose is to create social and/ or environmental added value while pursuing a commercial strategy to ensure its financial viability. It differs from a conventional business in that profits are reinvested to advance its social and/or environmental goals.

Social entrepreneurship

A social enterprise is an organisation whose purpose is based on social or environmental objectives. It may be a for-profit or charitable entity or have a mixed form. The profits of social enterprises are generally reinvested to maximise the benefit for society.

Social media

Social media enables users to participate in social networking, and to share content via digital media. It allows users not only to consume, but also to create their own content.

Social media hubs

Regional hubs that assist the digital communication activities of Switzerland’s network of representations abroad via tailored content (languages/themes), education and technical support.

Soft law

The term soft law is used to denote a multitude of different international instruments. What they all have in common is that they are not legally binding (soft) but that they prescribe a certain conduct (law). Unlike international law, soft law in no way constitutes international legal obligations, which is why states cannot be made legally accountable if it is breached (see ‘International law’).

Soft power

In the context of international relations and foreign policy, soft power refers to a nation’s ability to influence others (in the sense of persuading other countries and actors to adopt its position and proposals) without using military, financial or economic pressure or force (elements of hard power) to achieve its objectives. Soft power consists primarily in presenting sound arguments and ideas, providing practical and institutional solutions and, in general, fostering social and cultural appeal and acceptance. In terms of its foreign policy, Switzerland strives to wield soft power rather than hard power.

Special economic zone

A special economic zone is a designated geographical area within a state with facilitated legal and administrative regulations for investors.


Person or organisation with a legitimate interest in the development or results of a project or process.


Switzerland promotes sustainable development on the basis of the Federal Constitution. It uses the definition formulated by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The principle was substantiated in the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda in 2015 (see ‘2030 Agenda’).

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6)

In addition to access to drinking water, sanitary facilities and hygiene, SDG 6 of the 2030 Agenda contains further targets on protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems. The aim is to improve water quality and reduce water pollution due to human impact. Cross-border cooperation is promoted at all levels to enable integrated water resources management. SDG 6 has many direct and indirect links to other goals and issues, such as poverty, food, health and the economy.

Sustainable finance

Sustainable finance refers to any form of financial service integrating environmental, social and governance (known as ESG criteria) criteria into business or investment decisions.

Swiss Business Hubs

The 22 Swiss Business Hubs, embedded in Swiss representations worldwide, ensure the international presence of the organisation Switzerland Global Enterprise, which seeks to promote Swiss exports on behalf of the federal government.

Swiss made

A designation of origin that has acquired international renown as a symbol of reliability and quality for watches and other products. The use of the Swiss designation of origin, as well as other indications of the ’Swissness’ of products and services, are protected by law. Swiss Pavilion: brand name used for Switzerland’s official appearances at World Expos.

Swiss Pavilion

Brand name used for Switzerland’s official appearances at World Expos. Swisstech: brand name used in the campaign to support the perception of Switzerland as an innovation hub.


The Swissnex network is the Swiss global network for education, research and innovation. As an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, it forms part of the Confederation’s external network and is overseen by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The network supports partners in their international networking and in their commitment to the global exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent. The five Swissnex locations and their outposts are located in the world’s most innovative hubs. The network is also temporarily presented at selected major events, such as World Expos (e.g. Expo Dubai), by means of a so-called swissnex Mobile presence.

Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)

Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) supports Swiss and Liechtenstein companies in developing their foreign activities, on behalf of the Confederation. S-GE coordinates a comprehensive network of specialist service partners in Switzerland and abroad to this end. Its core services include advising companies on developing or expanding export activities, providing these companies with information, and conducting marketing for Switzerland abroad.

Switzerland’s communication abroad

Communication abroad aims to help safeguard Switzerland’s interests abroad using public relations tools. It actively helps shape the perception of Switzerland abroad by explaining Switzerland, its positions and its strengths, as well as its domestic and foreign policy action through targeted communication activities.



The practice of addressing clearly defined target groups specifically using data that is freely available under the Data Protection Act.


Digital technologies and technical innovations offer many opportunities to improve living conditions worldwide. Switzerland promotes their use in international cooperation in order to deliver on the sustainable development goals more quickly or in a more broad-based and cost effective manner. For example, new technologies can help alleviate need and poverty, tackle global challenges such as climate change, and contribute to better governance. New technologies also involve risks, which is why Switzerland combines its innovation transfer with training measures, for example.


Terrorism denotes violent criminal acts that seek to intimidate the public or a state, or to coerce an international organisation. At universal level, international agreements and UN resolutions describe various measures designed to support countries in the prevention and prosecution of terrorist acts. It is recognised that such counterterrorism measures must respect international law, in particular human rights, international humanitarian law and the international law on refugees.

Track 1

Negotiations, talks or political dialogues in the context of peacebuilding where the main parties to the conflict are represented at leadership level, i.e. high-ranking government representatives and leaders of non-state armed groups. Most armed conflicts involve at least one state actor.

Transdniestrian Settlement Process

A negotiation process aimed at achieving a comprehensive, peaceful and lasting resolution to the Transdniestria conflict on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders. The talks, which take the 5+2 format, involve representatives from the various sides, mediators and observers – Moldova, Transdniestria, the OSCE, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.

Trilateral Contact Group

Negotiations in this format provide the framework for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Talks have also been taking place since June 2014 under the chairmanship of the OSCE with participants from Russia and Ukraine as well as the disputed territories. This process has political support from the ‘Normandy Format’ countries (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia).

«Triple nexus» approach

Nexus means linking. The growing complexity, longer duration and increasing frequency of humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, extreme natural events and epidemics make necessary the integrated deployment of the three foreign policy instruments – humanitarian aid, long-term development cooperation and peacebuilding − in order to achieve more sustainable impact in crisis contexts. Simultaneously alleviating recurring humanitarian need and achieving longer-term development goals represents a major challenge. The triple nexus – also known as the humanitarian/ development/peace nexus – combines and harmonises these three instruments. This means poverty, armed conflict and the underlying multisectoral causes of crises are addressed in a holistic manner.


UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is composed of five permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten non-permanent members. It is committed to maintaining international peace and security. Switzerland is represented as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2023–24.

UN Special Political Missions

UN civilian field operations in the areas of conflict prevention, peacebuilding and peace consolidation or which support political processes through good offices. The roles and characteristics of the special missions – there are over 40 at present – vary significantly. The special missions include, for example, country and regional offices, special envoys of the UN Secretary-General and teams of experts or monitoring teams for sanctions. Their mandate is generally based on resolutions of the UN General Assembly and/or the UN Security Council.

UN treaty bodies

Each of the nine UN human rights treaties is assigned a ‘treaty body’. These consist of independent experts who monitor the human rights compliance of the treaty in question. For example, they verify and make recommendations on the state reports that treaty nations must periodically produce, as well as dealing with complaints made by one nation against another, and deciding on individual complaints by victims of human rights abuses.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. As the first international human rights declaration, it contains a comprehensive programme for human rights, defining civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.


Universal application or applicability of a certain norm.


This means maintaining good relations with all states of the world. This does not mean, however, that foreign policy instruments are deployed in all countries in the same way or that Switzerland has a representation in every country. Rather, Switzerland represents its interests in a modular fashion and according to political priority. It does so both bilaterally and multilaterally, and as a member of international organisations.

UNSCR 1325 ‘Women, Peace and Security’

This UN Resolution was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000. For the first time, it highlights the impact of conflicts on women and particularly the active role and participation of women in political processes and institutions. It calls on UN member states – primarily, however, parties to a conflict – to protect women’s rights and to include women in peace negotiations, the resolution of conflicts and reconstruction efforts on an equal footing. It is seen as a landmark resolution, which draws attention to and condemns sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict; it makes an important contribution towards achieving gender quality and respect for women’s rights as human rights; and makes a clear reference to the universality of human rights.



Verification refers to an inspection process through which the actors participating in an international agreement can obtain a sufficient degree of certainty that and to what extent the contractually agreed norms and rules are being complied with by all participants. The verification can either be carried out by the contracting states themselves or by a supervisory organisation set up and tasked by them to perform this mandate.

Vienna Document

A key instrument of military confidence-building between the participating States of the OSCE. It is based on the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and was adopted in 1990 as a further development of the Stockholm Document 1986 after the end of the Cold War. It was last updated in 2011. It includes measures for greater military transparency (e.g. in training, exercises and manoeuvres), military confidence-building (e.g. building up contacts) and conflict prevention (e.g. preventing military incidents).

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Global standards for private security companies which were laid down in 2000 by companies, NGOs and governments to promote and protect human rights.


War Material Act

The War Material Act (WMA) makes the export and transit of war material and the transfer of production licences subject to licensing. Applications must be submitted to SECO, which issues export licences in accordance with the related War Material Ordinance (WMO). The FDFA reviews the applications in accordance with Article 5 of the WMO and ensures that Switzerland fulfils its international obligations, applies its foreign policy principles, and complies with international law. It takes into account the following criteria: the upholding of peace and international security, regional stability, respect for human rights, the principles and objectives of Swiss development cooperation and the stance of other states.

WASH approach (water, sanitation and hygiene)

The term WASH, which stands for water, sanitation and hygiene, highlights the complementarity of the three aspects in efforts to improve public health through the provision of clean drinking water, the appropriate disposal and treatment of waste water and the promotion of general hygiene. The main objective is to reduce health and environmental risks presented by contamination with faeces and the pathogenic germs and harmful compounds that it contains.

Weapons of mass destruction

Weapons of mass destruction are chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Switzerland is committed to banning and eliminating all categories of weapons of mass destruction.


The «West» is a politically and ideologically charged term and its meaning is ambiguous. The term emerged in the 19th century to describe a geographically coherent community of relatively liberal Western European states compared to more despotic regimes in Eastern Europe. Following the two World Wars in the 20th century, the term «West» was extended to include not just Europe but also the US, its leading power, as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Cold War was characterised by the ideological conflict between East and West. Just as the G7 is regarded as a Western forum, in certain contexts the «West» now encompasses countries like Japan and South Korea, which share western values, even though historically they had no connection to Europe either culturally or in terms of their populations.


Youth bulge

Disproportionately young population shaping a country’s demographics, where 15 to 24-year-olds make up at least 20% or 0 to 15-year-olds at least 30% of society as a whole.

Last update 26.01.2024


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