Switzerland's Role in International Organizations



International Committee of the Red Cross Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Although its membership in the United Nations is only a decade old, Switzerland’s tradition of neutrality and humanitarian leadership have long established the country as an important player in the international community and an active member and major donor of international organizations.

Switzerland has been an active member of the United Nations since joining the organization in September 2002. For more information on Switzerland and the UN, please visit here.  Switzerland joined the World Bank in 1992 and currently represents eight other countries on the World Bank’s Executive Board. For more information on Switzerland’s role at the World Bank, please visit here.  

Switzerland’s commitment to humanitarianism is a centuries-old tradition based on the country’s ideals of individual freedom and tolerance. Its role in the founding and continuous support of the International Committee of the Red Cross has cemented Switzerland's international reputation as a humanitarian leader, yet this is but one of many areas in which the Swiss work to relieve suffering around the world.

A large part of Switzerland's humanitarian tradition stems from the fact that it has for centuries been a country where people have sought protection from religious or political persecution. From Huguenots fleeing France in the sixteenth century to Turkish and Balkan Muslims at the beginning of the twenty-first, Switzerland has a long history of providing protection and asylum to those who seek it. See the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration’s "Migration Report 2014" for more information about recent asylum and immigration policy in Switzerland.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provides funds and humanitarian aid to countries and people in need across the globe. In 2014, the SDC gave over CHF 1.91 billion to humanitarian aid and development cooperation projects. See the Swiss Official Development Assistance for 2013-2014 for more details.

The Swiss people play an active role in building their nation's humanitarian traditions, making generous contributions to humanitarian causes around the world. Since August 2015, Swiss Solidarity has led a national fundraising appeal for Syrian refugees, which has raised $25 million to provide emergency relief in the Balkans and to fund projects for refugees in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The organization has been funding projects for Syrian refugees in the Middle East since 2012. Swiss Solidarity has also raise over $33 million to provide emergency relief to the victims of the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. 

For more information about humanitarianism in Switzerland, see Caritas Switzerland, HEKS, Helvetas, SolidarMed, Swisscontact and Terre des Hommes International Federation.