Relations with Switzerland

  • Last updated: 01 Apr. 2021 12:30

NATO and Switzerland actively cooperate in several important areas, including the promotion of human security, defence institution building and the development and maintenance of capabilities of the Swiss armed forces to work with those of NATO and other partner countries in multinational peace-support operations.

Swiss Liaison and Monitoring Team (LMT) officers in contact with Kosovo residents.

  • Swiss cooperation with NATO is based on its long-standing policy of military neutrality and areas of practical cooperation that match joint objectives. NATO fully respects Switzerland’s neutrality.
  • Switzerland is a longstanding, valued partner for NATO. Bilateral cooperation began when Switzerland joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 1996 and became a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997.
  • NATO and Switzerland detail areas of cooperation in the country’s Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP).
  • Swiss law excludes participation in combat operations for peace enforcement, and Swiss units will only participate in operations under the mandate of the United Nations (UN) or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 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.
  • Switzerland has supported NATO-led operations in the Balkans, where it is a long-standing contributor to the Kosovo Force. The country also supported the operation in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2007.
  • Switzerland shares its expertise with NATO by offering education and training to Allies and other partner countries. Areas of speciality include: humanitarian missions, international humanitarian law, human rights and civil-military cooperation, search and rescue training, security policy, arms control and disarmament, and transparency and democratic control of armed forces.


Key areas of cooperation

Switzerland’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:

Building capabilities and interoperability

  • Swiss participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) sets targets to help develop the interoperability and capabilities which might be made available for NATO training, exercises and multinational crisis-management and peace-support operations.
  • Switzerland has been a strong supporter of the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB), since its inception. The PAP-DIB aims to build capacity and reduce corruption in the defence sectors of other partner countries, including through the NATO Building Integrity (BI) Programme and Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP).
  • Switzerland is a generous contributor to a number of NATO Trust Fund projects in other partner countries, and has supported projects focused on munitions stockpile management; the safe destruction of mines, arms and ammunition; and the reintegration of demobilised military personnel into the civilian workforce.
  • Switzerland has declared a number of training facilities available for PfP training activities, including the international training centre of the Swiss Army (SWISSINT). Switzerland has also made a number of civilian training facilities available under the PfP framework.
  • Switzerland also promotes the application of the law on armed conflicts and humanitarian law. The country took on a leading role in promoting international standards for the regulation of private security companies.

Support for NATO-led operations and missions

  • In late 1995, during the crises in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, Switzerland opened its airspace, rail and road networks to the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR), which was responsible for implementing military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
  • Switzerland participated in its first NATO-led peace-support operation in 1999, when the Swiss government decided to contribute to the Kosovo Force (KFOR). Switzerland remains a significant contributor to KFOR. In addition, Switzerland plays an important role in supporting the development of Kosovo through bilateral and multilateral programmes.
  • 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 in Kunduz Province.

Wider cooperation

  • Through the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), Switzerland has contributed to disaster-response operations in NATO member states and partner countries. Civil emergency planning is a major area of cooperation, and Switzerland participates in numerous training events and exercises, including several crisis-management exercises.
  • Switzerland has been actively engaged with the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 1990. Leading areas for cooperation include advanced technologies for the detection of explosives and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, as well as for enhanced situational awareness against unmanned aerial systems. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists from Switzerland are also contributing to research aiming to develop new tools for rapid diagnosis in large-scale settings.