The Foreign Policy Strategy 2016–2019, which serves as the strategic frame of reference and time period defined for the present document, emphasises the importance of taking human rights issues into account in a transversal manner in order to ensure peace, security and prosperity in the world, and in Switzerland itself. Over the past decades, Switzerland’s foreign policy with regard to human rights has been defined in various papers adopted by Parliament and the Federal Council, which reflect the stages in our country’s development of a committed and consistent human rights policy. Those documents constitute the historical and political foundations of this strategy.
More specifically, the first Federal Council report devoted exclusively to this issue (1982), reaffirms Switzerland’s commitment to human rights through our country’s step-by-step integration into, and in solidarity with, the existing international normative and political framework – in particular, as a member of the Council of Europe and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Federal Constitution of 1999 consolidates the fundamental rights in a specific chapter. By defining the promotion of respect for human rights as one of the principal objectives of Switzerland’s foreign policy (Art. 54 para. 2 Cst), the new constitution also articulates the increasing consideration given to human rights issues in foreign policy. At the international level, by joining the United Nations (UN) in 2002, Switzerland has gained new policy instruments that have enhanced its ability to influence the international normative and political framework for the protection and promotion of human rights.