Swiss Foreign Policy: Foundations and Possibilities

Swiss Foreign Policy: Foundations and Possibilities

Swiss Foreign Policy: Foundations and Possibilities

Swiss Foreign Policy: Foundations and Possibilities


Swiss Foreign Policy provides in-depth insights into the procedures and constraints of Swiss foreign policy, answering questions such as: * Why is Switzerland not a member of the European Union? * What are the implications of staying apart and how important is neutrality in today's Europe? * What are the implications of federalism and direct democracy on foreign policy? * How should conflicting interests in foreign policy decision-making be dealt with? The book is essential reading to all those interested in foreign policy analysis, the relationship between democracy and international relations, the significance of being a small state in contemporary Europe and the specificities of the Swiss political system.


Conflicts often arise when the interests and goals of various people and policy areas converge. This chapter looks at the emergence of conflicting goals and the measures Switzerland takes to avoid excessive policy inconsistency.

We use specific examples - armaments exports, export risk guarantees and international intellectual property rights - to show how Swiss foreign policy copes with conflicting goals and seeks coherence. We conclude with requirements for foreign policy decision-making processes that increase the likelihood of coherent results.


Emergence of conflicting goals

Every interest group or subsection of the population has its own expectations of the state. Conflicting goals are to be expected; the more tasks a state must juggle, the greater the likelihood of conflict within and between policy areas. the Swiss federal constitution acknowledges the state's broad mandate:

Article 2 Aims

1 the Swiss Confederation shall protect the liberty and rights of the people and safeguard the independence and security of the country.

2 It shall promote the common welfare, the sustainable development, the internal cohesion and the cultural diversity of the country.

3 It shall seek to guarantee the greatest possible equality of opportunity.

4 It shall commit itself to supporting the long-term preservation of natural resources and in favour of a just and peaceful international order.

A close read of this article shows that the goals described are actually a collection of potentially conflicting ideals. For example, conflict might occur if the electorate concluded that promoting the general welfare required eu entry, even if that meant limiting or reinterpreting the concept of Swiss independence. Recent changes in Swiss military law offer a second example. Closer army cooperation with other countries might increase Swiss security and support a fair and peaceful international order - but some would see it as curtailing Switzerland's traditional understanding of sovereignty.

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