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Switzerland’s “Good Offices”

(Gute Dienste, literally: good services)

As a neutral country, Switzerland has long offered its services—“good offices”—to nations in conflict. Such services range from providing a negotiating venue in Switzerland to initiating contact between the opposing sides and acting as disinterested mediator.

The United Nations states in its charter that any dispute among parties that is likely to endanger international peace and security should be first addressed through negotiation, mediation, or other peaceful means.

Switzerland has been on the forefront of peaceful conflict resolution, and is internationally respected and trusted as a competent, reliable, and neutral facilitator and mediator.

Some Swiss mediation successes:

  • Swiss participation in crisis management in Ukraine as part of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (2014)
  • Mediation between Georgia and Russia on WTO compromise (2010–2011)
  • Mediation between Turkey and Armenia to improve general relations (2009)
  • The Nuba Mountains ceasefire negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (2002)
  • The Evian Accords, which marked the end of Algeria’s civil war and ensured Algerian independence (1962)

Switzerland’s good offices also include carrying out so-called protecting-power mandates: In cases where a state has broken ties with another state, whether partly or completely, Switzerland may take on some of a state’s consular or diplomatic responsibilities. (How it works.) Switzerland can also act as a go-between for two countries. A protecting-power mandate allows hostile states to maintain minimal relations.

Switzerland’s current protecting-power mandates:

The first time that Switzerland acted as a protecting power was during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), when it represented the interests of the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Grand Duchy of Baden in France.

Switzerland took on several protecting-power mandates in World War I, and in World War II represented the interests of 35 states, including the major powers.

For more information on Switzerland as a trusted mediator, negotiator, and guardian of international agreements, click here.