Directorate of International Law

Respect for international law and its promotion have always been a high priority of Swiss foreign policy, contributing to its coherence and credibility. As the “juridical conscience” of the FDFA and the federal government's centre of competence for all questions relating to international law, the Directorate of International Law (DIL) deals with the legal aspects of Switzerland's international relations.


  • to safeguard the interests of Switzerland and its citizens in matters relating to international law 
  • to see to it that the Swiss authorities interpret and apply international law correctly, both at home and abroad
  • to promote respect for international law and its development, particularly through the United Nations (UN)

Fields of activity

  • negotiating, concluding and implementing international treaties
  • ensuring that Switzerland's rights are respected abroad
  • advising the head of FDFA and the Federal Council on questions of international law and on the conduct of foreign policy
  • assisting Swiss representations abroad and other federal administrative bodies confronted with issues relating to international law.

International norms are developing in an increasing number of areas, including police, justice, customs inspections, environmental protection and communication. This has led to a significant increase in the number of fields in which the DIL is active. The Office for the Application of International Humanitarian Law has recently been set up within the DIL. The Swiss Maritime Navigation Office, which is based in Basel, is also attached to the DIL.

Legal advisor

The Head of the DIL also acts as legal advisor to the FDFA. In this capacity, he advises the Head of the Department on all aspects of public international law. He directs negotiations and monitors the development and codification of international law, notably the work of the International Law Commission and the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly.