Protecting the civilian population

Switzerland works to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights in armed conflicts, and respect for the rights of refugees. It is committed to ensuring that civilian populations receive targeted aid and protection and can exercise their rights. In 2009, Switzerland was the first country to adopt a strategy on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

International humanitarian law places restrictions on how conflicts and war are conducted. The goal is to protect civilians and persons who are no longer participating in hostilities and to ensure that they can continue to exercise their rights. Human rights, international refugee law, international criminal law and various national laws provide further protection. Switzerland works at multilateral level to strengthen the effective protection of the civilian population.

As a contracting party to the Geneva Conventions, Switzerland helps to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. The 2013 strategy on the protection of civilian populations in armed conflicts consolidates Switzerland's measures and sets the following priorities:

  • Promoting compliance with the normative framework
  • Consolidating actions taken in favour of persons to be protected
  • Strengthening international peacekeeping missions