Self-determination Initiative

On the 25.11.2018, the Swiss electorate voted on the Popular initiative ‘Swiss law, not foreign judges’ (Self-determination Initiative).



Switzerland needs to ensure that relations with its neighbours and the world are well regulated. Since the modern federal state came into being, it has therefore entered into a series of international treaties to safeguard our interests with respect to other countries. These agreements help us to tackle problems that can only be resolved by working with other countries. Switzerland decides which agreements are necessary and which are not. The electorate has far-reaching rights to be consulted.

The proposal

The initiative seeks to alter the way in which Switzerland treats international agreements if there is any ‘conflict’ between those agreements and constitutional law. It aims to lay down in the Constitution what should happen when a popular initiative is incompatible in certain areas with an international agreement. In such a situation, Switzerland should in future consistently seek to ensure that the Constitution takes precedence: it will not be able to apply the agreement unless it is approved by referendum. It will also have to amend the agreement by renegotiating it with the relevant countries. If that is not possible, it will have to withdraw from the agreement.

Last modification 11.07.2022

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