Protecting the civilian population

Switzerland works to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights in armed conflicts, and respect for the rights of refugees. It is committed to ensuring that civilian populations receive targeted aid and protection and can exercise their rights.

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)