Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA, German: Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten, French: Département fédéral des affaires étrangères, Italian: Dipartimento federale degli affari esteri, Romansh: Departament federal d’affars exteriurs ), so named since 1979, is one of the seven Departments of the Swiss government federal administration of Switzerland, and corresponds in its range of tasks to the ministry of foreign affairs in other countries. The Department is always headed by one of the members of the Swiss Federal Council. As of 1 November 2017, the department is headed by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis.

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
(in German) Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten
(in French) Département fédéral des affaires étrangères
(in Italian) Dipartimento federale degli affari esteri
(in Romansh) Departament federal d’affars exteriurs
Logo der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft
Bundeshaus 1128 (west wing)

The west wing of the Federal Palace of Switzerland.
Agency overview
JurisdictionFederal administration of Switzerland
Minister responsible

Former names

  • 1848–1887: Federal Political Department
  • 1888–1895: Federal Department of the Exterior
  • 1896–1978: Federal Political Department


The mission of the FDFA is to safeguard Switzerland's interests abroad and its relations with other countries. It does so by means of Swiss Foreign Policy, whose objectives have been laid down in Art. 54 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution (BV) as follows:

The Confederation shall strive to preserve the independence of Switzerland and its welfare; it shall, in particular, contribute to alleviate need and poverty in the world, and to promote respect for human rights, democracy, the peaceful coexistence of nations and the preservation of natural resources.

The priorities of Swiss Foreign Policy for the years 2012–2015 include:

  • Fostering and cultivating Swiss relations with its neighbouring countries and the European Union (EU);
  • Strengthening Switzerland's commitment to stability in Europe and in the world;
  • Intensifying and diversifying strategic partnerships and Switzerland's multilateral commitment; and
  • Enhancing the support and offering of services provided to Swiss citizens abroad.

Originally it was the rotating Swiss President who headed the "Political Department" (PD) for a one-year term. In 1888, the Department was restructured by Numa Droz, who straight away headed the Department for five years. In 1896, the Federal council returned to the original system with a Federal Councillor heading the Department only for a given one-year term. The one-year limitation was abandoned in 1914. Since 1979, the Department has retained the name by which it still goes today.


  • General Secretariat
  • State Secretariat
    • Presidential Affairs and Protocol
    • Crisis Management Centre
  • Directorate of Political Affairs
    • Europe, Central Asia, Council of Europe, OSCE Division
    • Middle East and North Africa Division
    • Subsaharan Africa and Francophonie Division if
    • Asia and the Pacific Division
    • Americas Division
    • United Nations and International Organisations
    • Human Security Division
    • Sectoral Foreign Policy Division
    • Division for Security Policy
  • Directorate of European Affairs, DEA
  • Directorate of Corporate Resources (DR)
  • Consular Directorate CD
  • Directorate of International Law DIL
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

List of heads of department

See also


  1. ^ Presence Switzerland

External links

Federal administration of Switzerland

The federal administration of Switzerland (German: Bundesverwaltung, French: Administration fédérale, Italian: Amministrazione federale, Romansh: Tribunal administrativ federal ) is the ensemble of agencies that constitute, together with the Swiss Federal Council, the executive branch of the Swiss federal authorities. The administration is charged with executing federal law and preparing draft laws and policy for the Federal Council and the Federal Assembly.The administration consists of seven federal departments and the Federal Chancellery. The departments are roughly equivalent to the ministries of other states, but their scope is generally broader. Each department consists of several federal offices, which are headed by a director, and of other agencies. The much smaller Federal Chancellery, headed by the Federal Chancellor, operates as an eighth department in most respects.

Flavio Cotti

Flavio Cotti (born 18 October 1939, in Prato-Sornico) is a Swiss politician.

He was elected to the Federal Council of Switzerland on 10 December 1986 and handed over office on 30 April 1999. He is affiliated to the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland.

During his office time he held the following departments:

Federal Department of Home Affairs (1987–1993)

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (1994–1999)He was President of the Confederation twice, first in 1991 and then again in 1998.

Foreign relations of Switzerland

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.

Geneva Centre for Security Policy

The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) is an international foundation that was established in 1995 under Swiss law to "promote the building and maintenance of peace, security and stability". The GCSP was founded by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports in cooperation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs as a Swiss contribution to Partnership for Peace (PfP).

Greece–Switzerland relations

Greek-Swiss relations are foreign relations between Greece and Switzerland. Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1830. Switzerland opened its consulate in 1865.

Greece has an embassy in Bern, a general consulate in Geneva, and two honorary consulates in Zürich and Lugano. Switzerland has an embassy in Athens and four consulates (Thessaloniki, Corfu, Patras, Rhodes).

House of Switzerland

The House of Switzerland is a Swiss hospitality centre, meeting point, and social hub. The new house ("Swiss Mobile House") was developed by Presence Switzerland in 2013, for the 2014 Winter Olympics; on 15 February 2014, Vladimir Putin visited it and ate a raclette there.The prefabricated house is designed to be mobile and re-used in other future occasions, such as Expo 2015.

Joseph Deiss

Joseph Deiss (born 18 January 1946) is an economist, Swiss politician and a member of the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC). From 1999 to 2006, he was a member of the Swiss Federal Council, heading first the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (1999–2002) and then the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (2003–2006). He was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly for its 65th session in 2010.

List of parties to the Geneva Conventions

The Geneva Conventions, which were most recently revised in 1949, consist of seven individual treaties which are open to ratification or accession by any sovereign state. They are:

The Geneva Conventions

First Geneva Convention

Second Geneva Convention

Third Geneva Convention

Fourth Geneva Convention

Additional Protocols

Protocol I

Protocol II

Protocol IIIThe four 1949 Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states, both UN observers the Holy See and the State of Palestine, as well as the Cook Islands. The Protocols have been ratified by 174, 168 and 75 states respectively. In addition, Article 90 of Protocol I states that "The High Contracting Parties may at the time of signing, ratifying or acceding to the Protocol, or at any other subsequent time, declare that they recognize ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other High Contracting Party accepting the same obligation, the competence of the [International Fact-Finding] Commission to enquire into allegations by such other Party, as authorized by this Article." 76 states have made such a declaration.

Martin Dahinden

Martin Werner Dahinden (born 8 January 1955) is a senior Swiss diplomat who has served as ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America since October 2014. Dahinden presented his credentials to the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, on November 18, 2014 at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Max Grässli

Max Grässli (4 March 1902 – 29 June 1985) was a Swiss diplomat. During World War II, Grässli was the Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of Switzerland, a member of the Swiss legation in Washington DC. In that capacity, he passed official communiques back and forth between the warring governments of the United States and Japan, including the Japanese announcement of 10 August 1945 regarding acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.Grässli was born in Werdenberg, Switzerland. In 1930, he began working for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs at the legation in Paris.After World War II, he served in the Swiss diplomatic missions to Japan, the USSR, Hungary, India, Thailand, and Sweden.In 1966, he prepared a report on behalf of the United Nations on the economic significance of the Panama Canal.

Micheline Calmy-Rey

Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey (born 8 July 1945) is a Swiss politician. She was member of the Swiss Federal Council and became Switzerland's foreign minister as head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2011. She was Vice President of the Confederation in 2006 and 2010 and President in 2007 and 2011. She resigned her office as member of the Federal Council on 31 December 2011.

Politics of Switzerland

Switzerland is a semi-direct democratic federal republic. The federal legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly, the National Council and the Council of States. The Federal Council holds the executive power and is composed of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors elected by the Federal Assembly. The judicial branch is headed by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, whose judges are elected by the Federal Assembly.

Switzerland has a tradition of direct democracy. For any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory (mandatory referendum); for any change in a law, a referendum can be requested (optional referendum). In addition, the people may present a constitutional popular initiative to introduce amendments to the federal constitution. The people also assume a role similar to the constitutional court, which does not exist, and thus act as the guardian of the rule of law.

Cantonal and municipal politics vary in the different cantons, which may have different systems. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Switzerland as "full democracy" in 2016.

Presence Switzerland

Presence Switzerland (Deutsch: Präsenz Schweiz, French: Présence Suisse) is an official Swiss organisation, part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, which aims is to promote Swiss interests. A department of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, it is not to be confused with Swiss Federation of Tourism, the owner of the MySwitzerland website.

Presence Switzerland manages an eight-language information website about the country, describing its history, institutions and politics. It also hosts the Swiss pavilions at the World's fairs, as well as the House of Switzerland.

René Felber

René Felber (born 14 March 1933) is a Swiss politician and member of the Swiss Federal Council (1987-1993).

Born 1933 in Bienne, Felber was a teacher in Boudevilliers and Le Locle (canton of Neuchâtel). He was mayor of Le Locle from 1964 to 1980 (in charge of gas and electricity supply and then of Finance), member of the Cantonal Parliament of Neuchâtel (1965-1976). He sat in the National Council from 1967 to 1981 when he became a member of the Conseil d'Etat (State Council) of the canton of Neuchâtel in charge of the Finance Department until his election to the Federal Council. In 1980/81, he was the floor leader of the Social Democratic Party in the Federal Parliament.

He was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on 9 December 1987 as member of the Canton of Neuchâtel and for the Social Democratic Party.

During his time in office, he headed the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and was President of the Confederation in 1992. Felber fought for Swiss membership of the European Economic Area that was narrowly defeated in a referendum on 6 December 1992.

He resigned from the Council on 31 March 1993 for health reasons.

Semi-direct democracy

Semi-direct democracy is a type of democracy that combines the mechanisms of direct democracy and representative government. In semi-direct democracy, representatives administer daily governance, but citizens keep the sovereignty, being able to control their governments and laws through different forms of popular action: binding referendum, popular initiative, revocation of mandate, plebiscites, and public consultations. The first two forms—referendums and initiatives—are examples of direct legislation.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is an office-level agency in the federal administration of Switzerland, and a part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Together with other federal offices, SDC is responsible for overall coordination of Swiss international development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as humanitarian aid.

As of 2015, the SDC is led by Director-General Manuel Sager. It has a staff of 536, no revenues and annual expenditures of CHF 1,433 million.

Swiss abroad

Swiss people living abroad (German: Auslandsschweizer; French: Suisses de l’étranger; Italian: Svizzeri all’estero; Romansh: Svizzers a l’exteriur), also referred to as "fifth Switzerland" (German: Fünfte Schweiz, Italian: Quinta Svizzera, French: Cinquième Suisse, Romansh: Tschintgavla Svizra), alluding to the fourfold linguistic division within Switzerland. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) takes care for Swiss people living abroad.

Swiss order of precedence

The Swiss order of precedence is a hierarchy of important positions within the government of Switzerland. It has no legal standing but is used by ceremonial protocol.

The order of precedence is determined by the Protocol Regulations

and the Table of Precedence

of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Unless otherwise noted, precedence among persons of equal rank is determined by seniority. As a general rule, spouses share the same rank.

Switzerland–European Union relations

The relations between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) are framed by a series of bilateral treaties whereby the Swiss Confederation has adopted various provisions of European Union law in order to participate in the Union's single market, without joining as a member state. All but one (the microstate Liechtenstein) of Switzerland's neighbouring countries are EU member states.

Related topics
State-owned enterprises
See also

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