The foreign relations of Switzerland are the primary responsibility of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Some international relations of Switzerland are handled by other departments of the federal administration of Switzerland.
The 1999 Swiss Constitution declares the preservation of Switzerlands independence and welfare as the supreme objective of Swiss foreign policy. Below this overarching goal, the Constitution sets five specific foreign policy objectives:
These objectives reflect the Swiss moral obligation to undertake social, economic, and humanitarian activities that contribute to world peace and prosperity. This is manifested by Swiss bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activity, assistance to developing countries, and support for the extension of international law, particularly humanitarian law.
Traditionally, Switzerland has avoided alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action. Only in recent years have the Swiss broadened the scope of activities in which they feel able to participate without compromising their neutrality.
Switzerland maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as a neutral intermediary and host to major international treaty conferences. The country has no major dispute in its bilateral relations.
Switzerland (mainly Geneva) is home to many international governmental and nongovernmental organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (whose flag is essentially the Swiss flag with colours reversed). One of the first international organisations, the Universal Postal Union, is located in Bern.
Prior to its formal accession to the United Nations, Switzerland had maintained an observer role at the UNs General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council. Prior to full membership it had no right to a seat as one of the elected members of the UN Security Council.
Switzerland has fully participated within many of the UNs specialised institutions, including the Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations Environment Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UN Conference on Trade and Development, UN Industrial Development Organization, and the Universal Postal Union. Switzerland has also furnished military observers and medical teams to several UN operations.
Switzerland is a party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
The Swiss government on June 25, 2003, eased most of the sanctions against the Republic of Iraq in accord with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1483. The government lifted the trade embargo, flight restrictions, and financial sanctions in place since August 1990. The weapons embargo and the asset freeze, the scope of which was extended, remain in force, and restrictions on the trade in Iraqi cultural goods were newly imposed. Though not a member at the time, Switzerland had joined UN sanctions against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait.
Switzerland also has joined UN economic sanctions imposed on Libya, Sierra Leone, UNITA (Angola), Liberia, and Serbia/Montenegro. On October 15, 2003, the Federal Council ended the import restrictions on raw diamonds from Sierra Leone and lifted sanctions against Libya.
Switzerland in October 2000 implemented an ordinance to enforce UN sanctions against the Taliban (UNSCR 1267), which it subsequently amended in April 2001 in accord with tighter UN regulations (UNSCR 1333). On May 2, 2002, the Swiss Government eased the sanctions regime in accord with UNSCR 1388 and 1390, lifting the ban on the sale of acetic acid (used in drug production), Afghan airlines, and Afghan diplomatic representations. The weapons embargo, travel restrictions, and financial sanctions remain in force.
The Swiss Government in November 2001 issued an ordinance declaring illegal the terrorist organisation Al-Qaida as well as possible successor or supporting organisations. More than 200 individuals or companies linked to international terrorism have been blacklisted to have their assets frozen. Thus far, Swiss authorities have blocked about 72 accounts totalling U.S.$22.6 million.
Switzerland is a member of many international organisations, including the World Trade Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, European Free Trade Association, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Atomic Energy Agency, and INTELSAT. Its central bank is a member of the Bank for International Settlements, based in Basel.
Switzerland is an active participant in the OSCE, its foreign minister serving as Chairman-in-Office for 1996. Switzerland also is an active participant in the major nonproliferation and export control regimes.
Although it is surrounded by member nations, Switzerland isnt a member nation of the European Union.
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