Cooperation between Switzerland and NATO deepened during the crises in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. In late 1995, the Swiss opened their air space, rail and road networks to the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) that was responsible for implementing military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In line and within the limits of its neutrality, Switzerland participates in peace-support operations or multilateral cooperation in military training. Swiss law excludes participation in combat operations for peace enforcement and Swiss units will only participate in operations under UN or OSCE mandate. On this basis, the Swiss government decided to contribute to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in 1999. This marked the first Swiss participation in a NATO-led peace-support operation.
Currently, a Swiss contingent (“SWISSCOY”) is serving within KFOR as part of the Multinational Task Force - South (MNTF-S). The contingent counts a maximum of 220 armed forces personnel and consists of a contingent support element, an infantry company, a transportation platoon, two medium-sized transport helicopters, and staff officers on different HQ levels throughout KFOR. A medical team and a catering staff support the Manoeuvre Battalion located in Suva Reka. The Force is also supported by medical specialists and military police also provide support to MNTF-S. JRD Nord in Kosovo is currently being led by a Swiss officer. In June 2011, the Swiss government and parliament extended the SWISSCOY-mandate until the end of 2014, which will continue to be adapted to the needs of KFOR. In addition, Switzerland plays an important role in supporting the development of Kosovo through bilateral and multilateral programs.
From February 2004 to February 2007, a small number of Swiss staff officers joined the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. They provided expertise and assistance in cultivating contacts with local leaders within the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kunduz province.
Switzerland has made available a number of military and civilian capabilities for potential peace-support operations under UN or OSCE mandates. As Switzerland does not have standing military units, no specific units can be identified for such operations. Contingents are tailored to any given mission’s needs and manned solely with volunteers, as required by the Federal Law on the Armed Forces. According to the 2010 Reports on Security Policy and on the Armed Forces, an increase, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, of the Armed Forces’ contributions to peace-support operations is to be realized over the next years. Specialized military personnel may be engaged for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and humanitarian operations on short notice.
Being one of the most active members of the PfP Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes, Switzerland has also declared a number of training facilities available for PfP training activities. These include the Centre for Information and Communication of the Armed Forces in Berne, the Mountain Training Centre of the Swiss Armed Forces in Andermatt, the International Training Centre of the Swiss Army (SWISSINT)1 in Stans and the Tactical Training Centre at the Swiss Officers’ Training Centre in Lucerne.
A number of civilian training facilities have also been made available for the PfP framework. These include the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)1 , the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), and the International Relations and Security Network (ISN) based in Zurich.
Every two years, Switzerland organizes the “International Security Forum (ISF)”, which addresses current issues concerning international security policy. The 10th edition, entitled “Facing a World of Transitions” will take place from 22-24 April 2013 in Geneva.
Switzerland also promotes the application of the law on armed conflicts and humanitarian law. Recently, Switzerland has taken on a leading role in bringing to EAPC/PfP the topic of international standards for the regulation of private security companies.
Switzerland is an active donor in favour of NATO PfP Trust Funds. Since 2000, it has supported 13 projects, two of which it co-led.
Defence and security sector reform
In June 2010, the Swiss Government approved the Report on the Security Policy of Switzerland, replacing the previous security policy from June 1999. In line with this policy, the country aims to further improve efficient and effective cooperation between the different layers of national authority and with other states and organizations. It also aims to contribute to stability and peace beyond Swiss borders. It highlights cooperation with other states to reduce the risk posed to Switzerland and its population by instability and war abroad, as well as to show solidarity with the international community.
The security policy reiterates the three principal tasks of the armed forces as laid down in the Constitution: preventing war, and in case this fails, defending the country and population, contributing to international peace and security, and supporting the civilian authorities in case of serious threats or major natural or man-made disasters. Contributions to international peace and security, in particular, require a high degree of interoperability with Allied and partner country forces. For this reason, increased interoperability for peace-support and humanitarian aid operations is a priority for Switzerland. The PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) is instrumental in this process, as well as Swiss participation in the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC).
Switzerland also contributes valuable resources to NATO in terms of support of security sector reform activities with other partner countries, with a special emphasis on democratic control of the armed forces, search and rescue training, international humanitarian law courses and other areas as well as the further development of PAP-DIB (Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building). Switzerland and NATO completed the first phase of this initiative, which aims to reduce corruption in the defence sector, with the release of a publication entitled "Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices" in April 2010. The second phase will focus on integrity building in the development of national capacities through education and training as well as on consolidating efforts made thus far.
Switzerland has contributed to several NATO/PfP Trust Fund projects in PfP countries. Along with individual Allies and partners, Switzerland has made contributions to voluntary funds for the destruction of mines, arms, or ammunition in Albania, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Serbia, Montenegro and Ukraine. More recently, the country co-led the first ever NATO/PfP – Mediterranean Dialogue Trust Fund project in Jordan
Switzerland is also co-leading a Trust Fund on Building Integrity in Defence Institutions as part of the PAP-DIB and contributes to the Trust Fund for Mauritania. More recently, Switzerland has supported the Norwegian-led Trust Fund project in Serbia for the reintegration of demobilized military personnel into the civilian workforce.
Civil emergency planning
Civil emergency planning is a major area of cooperation. Switzerland aims to cooperate with NATO Allies in providing mutual support in dealing with the consequences of major accidents or disasters in the EAPC area. Switzerland has contributed through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) to disaster-response operations in NATO member states and partner countries. Switzerland participates in numerous training events and exercises, including several Crisis Management Exercises (CMX).
Science and environment
Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists from Switzerland have participated in advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics. Since 2005, Swiss personnel have participated in over 20 activities. Topics have included unconventional information warfare and the war on terror, network security and intrusion detection, and neurophysics and theoretical methods in system neuroscience.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Switzerland is the embassy of the United Kingdom.