Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 29 October 2012 (morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Represented by 29-member delegation headed by Mr Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Switzerland page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Belgium, Cost Rica, Nigeria.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Switzerland page on the UPR extranet )

  • The head of delegation noted that the 26 cantonal governments contributed to the preparation of the UPR of Switzerland as well as a coalition of NGOs;
  • There were four major principles which guaranteed the unity and diversity of the State building on a long tradition of the sharing and equality of powers directly with citizens; human rights lied at the heart of these principles which defined Switzerland;
  • The four principles of the State were as follows:  democracy, the rule of law, federalism and solidarity;
  • An important step was taken in January 2011 with regard to the unification of law, in January 2011, when a series of laws entered into force at the federal level, including the promulgation of the new criminal procedural code, the federal law on a penal procedure for minors, and a new civil procedure code;
  • Rooted in the Swiss federal constitution was the principle of protection of minorities and respect for cultural, linguistic and religious identity in the country;
  • In terms of international commitments, the Swiss Government, following its first UPR of 2008, ratified the OP to the Convention against Torture and the OP to the Convention on the Elimination against Discrimination against Women.  Several other ratification processes were underway, including for the first OP to the ICCPR;
  • A national commission for the prevention of torture was established in 2012 following the ratification of the OPCAT;
  • The head of delegation noted that the Swiss Resource Centre for Human Rights was established per a recommendation posed during the first UPR of Switzerland.  While this institution is heading towards the direction of a national institution in conformity with the Paris Principles, although the Federal Council will decide on the follow-up to this pilot project after 2015;
  • Concerning racial discrimination, there was a policy in place based on a plan of action to combat all forms of discrimination and anti-discrimination measures were adopted in each canton; Moreover, the Federal Council had endeavoured to promote harmony and peace among people of different religions or belief and had stressed respect for tolerance;
  • With regard to the law of November 2009 which decided that no new minarets would be constructed, the delegation noted that this legislation did not affect existing minarets and that freedom of religion and belief continued to be fully ensured in the country;
  • In terms of human trafficking, a national plan of action had been established and a federal law on extra-procedural protection of victims and witnesses of such acts;
  • In response to questions posed by States, the Federal Government instituted guidelines to implement gender equality including the provision of wages.


In total 80 States participated in the dialogue:  33 HRC members and  47 observers  (Statements available on the Switzerland page on the UPR extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The ratification of the OPCAT and the OP to the CEDAW;
  • The establishment of the national commission for the prevention of torture;
  • The establishment of the Swiss Resource Centre for Human Rights;
  • Steps to combat discrimination and to promote cultural and religious harmony;
  • Progress achieved in combating domestic violence;
  • Action to combat human trafficking, in particular the creation of the bi-lateral task force between Switzerland and Romania to address this scourge.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to implement a wide-ranging anti-discrimination national legislation;
  • Efforts to ensure human rights were upheld vis-à-vis popular initiatives;
  • Measures to promote and protect the rights of migrants, immigrants and asylum seekers;
  • Measures to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address human trafficking;
  • Plans to promote and protect gender equality in the work place;
  • Steps to create a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.


States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Switzerland. These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • Adoption of comprehensive strategy for fighting trafficking, improving prevention, ensuring protection of victims and prosecuting and punishing perpetrators and ensuring the expansion of the bilateral cooperation between the Swiss and Romanian vis-à-vis the existing task force to address human trafficking;
  • Adopting federal legislation in order to provide protection against all forms of discrimination, including on grounds of race, religion, nationality and sexual orientation, and in line with the CERD recommendation;
  • Bringing to justice the perpetrators of acts of violence against foreigners, immigrants and asylum seekers and stepping up awareness raising activities in the area of anti-discrimination and xenophobia and withdrawing of reservation to the CERD;
  • Reducing inequalities in the labour market by adopting an implementing an effective strategy, with special attention for women;
  • Setting up a strategy and legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of women and children and providing full support to victims and withdrawing reservations to the CEDAW and to the CRC;
  • Ensuring victims of domestic violence had immediate access to redress and protection and reviewing legislation on residence permits with a view of avoiding the effect that the application of the law might in practice force women to remain in an abusive relationships; 
  • Intensifying efforts to protect the rights of migrants, immigrant and asylum seekers and to assist with their social integration;
  • To provide for a definition of torture per the criminal code;
  • Continuing human rights training for law enforcement personnel, particularly in the area of discrimination and xenophobia;
  • Putting in place institutional guarantees to ensure that human rights commitments were protected against popular initiatives that may violate these commitments; 
  • Converting the Swiss Resource Centre for Human Rights into an independent national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments:  Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities and its OP; Convention on the rights of migrant workers; ILO Convention 189 pertaining to domestic workers; the Convention of enforced or involuntary disappearances; the Third OP to the CESCR on communications, the first OP to the ICCPR, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Switzerland is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 31 October 2012.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711,