Bilateral relations Switzerland–Sierra Leone

Since the 1960s diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Sierra Leone have focused on debt restructuring. Switzerland provided humanitarian aid at the time of the civil war during the 1990s and supports the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone set up in 2002.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and Sierra Leone have signed a number of debt restructuring agreements since the 1960s. In 2007 Switzerland cancelled all debts owed to it by Sierra Leone. Among other things, a protocol on migration was signed in 2004.

Bilateral agreements

Economic cooperation

The volume of trade between Switzerland and Sierra Leone is modest. In 2011, Switzerland imported agricultural and forestry products, chemicals and rubber worth CHF 0.8 million. During the same period, exports to Sierra Leone amounted to CHF 1.8 million, comprising pharmaceuticals, metal goods, machinery and equipment.

Trade promotion (Switzerland Global Enterprise)

Peacebuilding and human security

Switzerland supports the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone set up in 2002. This court prosecutes and punishes crimes committed during the civil war.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Switzerland provided humanitarian aid at the time of the civil war from 1991–2002 and subsequently helped with post-war reconstruction.

Swiss nationals in Sierra Leone

In 1920, at the height of the economic boom, around 100 Swiss nationals lived in the country. In 2015 there were 17.

History of bilateral relations

Towards the end of the 19th century the British colony of Sierra Leone experienced an economic boom which also brought Swiss companies into the country. Swiss citizens worked for commercial companies, hotels and small firms. In the wake of the global economic crisis of the 1930s, and owing to political instability, many Swiss companies left the country.

When it took over a bauxite mine in 1963, Alusuisse formed the backbone of the Swiss presence in Sierra Leone. The civil war in the 1990s and the sale of Alusuisse resulted in a further drop in the number of Swiss residents.

Switzerland had already opened a consulate in Freetown in 1920, and following independence this was upgraded to a consulate-general. The consulate-general is headed by an honorary consul.

Switzerland recognised Sierra Leone’s independence on 17 April 1961 and the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1962.

Switzerland and Sierra Leone signed several debt restructuring and relief agreements between 1984 and 2007.

Entry in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (fr)