Promotion of International Geneva and digital self-determination – Federal Council sets out Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–2024

Bern, 04.11.2020 - At its meeting on 4 November 2020, the Federal Council approved Switzerland's Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–2024. The strategy outlines how the Federal Council intends to safeguard and promote Swiss interests and values in the digital space over the next four years. Focus areas include the strengthening of international governance and cooperation forums, digital self-determination for individual users, international law and the use of digitalisation to improve international cooperation. International Geneva has an important role to play in this respect, and the Federal Council aims to strengthen that role still further.

The Digital Foreign Policy Strategy sets out Switzerland's interests and values in the digital space – the same interests and values that Switzerland pursues in all foreign policy contexts. Switzerland is committed to the freedom, independence, security and welfare of the country, the alleviation of need and poverty in the world, sustainable development, equal opportunities, human rights, democracy and a peaceful and just international order – also in the digital space.

The Federal Council has identified four fields of action for Switzerland's Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–2024:

1. Digital governance: Switzerland aims to strengthen cooperation forums and ensure that all relevant actors are included (multi-stakeholder approach). It also aims to strengthen international law and help provide clarity where its application is unclear.

2. Prosperity and sustainable development: uppermost in this field of action are the preservation of Switzerland's leading position in business, education, research and innovation, the creation of reliable cross-border data spaces and the use of digitalisation to improve international cooperation.

3. Cybersecurity: Switzerland wants to contribute to a free, open and secure digital space in which vulnerabilities are addressed in a targeted manner and trust is fostered.

4. Digital self-determination: based on international law, users should be able to have as much control over their data as possible. To realise this goal, Switzerland is creating a national and international network and a report is to be submitted to the Federal Council by the end of 2021.

Switzerland enjoys wide international recognition and is well positioned thanks to its long-standing commitment as a bridge builder, its innovative economy and International Geneva. It is thus well placed to pursue the priorities set out in the strategy over the next four years and to safeguard Switzerland's interests and values.

In its Foreign Policy Strategy (FPS) 2020-2023, the Federal Council defined digitalisation as a new thematic priority of its foreign policy. In the Digital Switzerland Strategy of September 2020, it reaffirmed its intention to further develop digital foreign policy in the form of a follow-up strategy to the FPS. This follow-up strategy also serves as the Federal Council's response to the 2017 postulate of former National Councillor Claude Béglé. The postulate called for a strengthening of Geneva as the centre for international governance in the digital space.

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