Update: 20.07.2017

Swiss human rights record on the international stage

On 28 June 2017, the Federal Council presented the Swiss state report on the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council. The Federal Council issued a media release stating “the report gives an overview of the human rights situation in Switzerland and of the most important measures it has taken in this respect in recent years”.

What does the report refer to?

The report addresses the 99 recommendations Switzerland received and accepted from other countries during the second UPR cycle. 41 further recommendations were rejected at that time, which addressed more controversial and more important human rights issues in Switzerland. These recommendations were not even part of the state report.

Useful overview

Nevertheless, the report contains a detailed and useful summary of the many steps the Confederation has taken to optimise human rights protection in various areas of life, including e.g. gender equality, the rights of children, elderly or disabled people, and migrants. It also addresses civil liberties and social human rights. In this way, the report resembles a list of recently adopted federal and cantonal measures in many different areas.

Embellished reality, a round table, and a courageous step

These types of state reports often show authorities’ work in a good light and whitewash or omit certain details.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and all other involved federal agencies conducted a round table with a dozen NGO representatives during the drafting phase of the report. Although the critical feedback did not end up in the final version of the state report, a selection of NGO statements in their original wording are included in Annex II of the state report. This decision was unexpected and makes this year’s report a much more interesting read than last year’s.

In addition, a short overall opinion issued by the NGO Platform Human Rights was included at the end of the official part of the state report (cf. p.23).

What’s next?

The state report, along with previously submitted NGO reports, is an important prerequisite for the other states that have been asked to present their new recommendations to Switzerland at a UPR Working Group meeting in Geneva on 10 November 2017.

Afterwards, Switzerland has approximately three months to decide on which recommendations stated to accept and which to refuse. The resulting new list of accepted recommendations for Switzerland is then officially decreed during the Human Rights Council session in March 2018.


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