UN Human Rights Council reviews human rights situation in Switzerland

Bern, 09.11.2017 - As part of the regular Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Switzerland within the United Nations Human Rights Council, 111 member states submitted a number of recommendations on improving the human rights situation in Switzerland. The recommendations concern in particular discrimination, gender equality and migration. Switzerland now has three months to take a position.

The majority of the recommendations concern the transformation of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR) into an independent national human rights body. A stronger commitment has also been recommended to the areas of discrimination and racism, migration and asylum, gender equality, sexual orientation and gender identity. Other issues addressed include the compatibility of popular initiatives with international law, and business and human rights. In the next 48 hours Switzerland will explain to the Human Rights Council which of the recommendations it accepts, those it rejects, and those it wishes to leave open for the time being in order to consult the federal authorities and cantons concerned. Switzerland then has three months to take a final position on the outstanding recommendations.

Switzerland’s current and third UPR took the form of a three-and-a-half hour interactive dialogue before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl, who headed the Swiss delegation, emphasised that human rights are a fundamental pillar of the Swiss political system, legal system and its tradition. For Switzerland the UPR is more than a review: it is an opportunity to take stock of the current situation in Switzerland and at the same time it contributes to the national debate on human rights. The interactive dialogue also covered the implementation of the recommendations that Switzerland accepted at its second UPR in 2012.

Depending on their specific competences, both federal and cantonal authorities are responsible for implementing the recommendations in Switzerland. The report for the third UPR was jointly prepared by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Justice and Police with the collaboration of all other federal offices concerned, the cantons and non-governmental organisations.

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