Switzerland’s Official Role in International Organizations

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Switzerland is also a member of many international organizations represented both in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Permanent Representation of Switzerland in Geneva

In Geneva, Switzerland is represented by two permanent missions:

(1)   Mission to the United Nations Office (and to the other international organizations).
This mission is particularly active on disarmament, humanitarian issues, and human rights.

(2)   Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
This mission monitors the work of international organizations with an economic focus, such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

While the United Nations European headquarters, and a host of other UN agencies, are located in Geneva, the Swiss confederation did not become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland has a long-standing involvement with many UN agencies and programs, however.

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York

In New York, Switzerland works actively on all three pillars of the UN mandate:

(1)   Peace and security,

(2)   Human rights, and

(3)   Sustainable development.

Switzerland is involved in negotiating and adopting resolutions and decisions in all main bodies of the UN except the Security Council, of which it is not a member.

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the FAO, IFAD, and WFP in Rome

In Rome, Switzerland has permanent representation in:

(1)   The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), of which Switzerland has been a member since 1946,

(2)   The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), of which Switzerland is a founding member, and

(3)   The World Food Programme (WFP), which is today the world’s largest humanitarian agency.

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office (and to the other international organizations) in Vienna

In Vienna, Switzerland’s main work is with:

(1)   The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to which Switzerland provides technical assistance in areas related to human trafficking, corruption, money laundering, and strengthening criminal justice systems and the rule of law in order to better fight terrorism,

(2)   The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which Switzerland is a founding member, and

(3)   The preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Permanent Delegation of Switzerland to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris and Geneva

UNESCO’s five major programs focus on:

(1)   Education,

(2)   Natural sciences,

(3)   Social and human sciences,

(4)   Culture, and

(5)   Communication and information.

Permanent Representation of Switzerland to the Council of Europe

In Strasbourg, the Swiss representation acts as link between the Council of Europe and Switzerland. The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1949 with the general goal of strengthening three basic tenets of Western societies:

(1)   The rule of law,

(2)   Democracy, and

(3)   Basic human rights.

Permanent Delegation of Switzerland to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Like all OECD member countries, Switzerland has a permanent delegation to the OECD in Paris. Switzerland contributes to the OECD in accordance with the size of its economy, and has input in determining the work program and the annual budget.

The OECD was established in 1961, and Switzerland is a founding member.

Permanent Delegation of Switzerland to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna

The Swiss delegation to the OSCE contributes to three main issues:

(1)   Political and military security,

(2)   The economy, and

(3)   The environment and “human security.”

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels

Switzerland’s mission to NATO promotes good relations between Switzerland and NATO under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace (PfP). The mission represents Switzerland on individual committees, such as the committee that monitors the Kosovo Force (KFOR) international peacekeeping operation.