Neutrality: A Tool or a Limit for Preventing Mass Atrocitiy Crimes and Genocide? The Case of Switzerland

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Genocide Studies and Prevention, ISSN: 1911-0359, Vol: 11, Issue: 3, Page: 75-97

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Persoz, Giulia
University of South Florida Libraries
atrocity prevention; Switzerland; International Law; Peace and Conflict Studies
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article description
The present article aims to confront the Swiss practice regarding the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities in Swiss foreign policy and its particularities shaping its international relations. Neutrality, a core part of Switzerland's identity on both the internal political level and the international level, will be at the center of our analysis. Indeed, how can a country engage in prevention activities while keeping its neutral status? How does neutrality influence these activities throughout times? What foreseeable impact could neutrality have on them? To answer these questions, the article will be divided as follow: the first part will be an overview of the Swiss government and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. We will then lay out Switzerland's characteristics shaping its international relations, especially neutrality, before presenting its foreign policy principles and objectives, with a special focus on peace promotion policy. This contextualization of Swiss institutions and foreign policy aims to enable a better understanding of how activities pertaining to the prevention of mass atrocity crimes and genocide are embedded in Switzerland's political environment. The following part will present the evolution of Switzerland's activities regarding prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, as well as the actual mechanism — the Task Force Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities. The argument will consider how the Task Force is related to other areas of the government and the international community, what are its areas and countries of activities, which procedures it follows to start a project as well as the challenges it ought to overcome in the future. Finally, the last part of this article will present a critical analysis of the Swiss mechanism through the lens of its foreign policy and neutrality, to establish if – and how – it is compatible with Switzerland’s neutral status. From the conclusion reached, the article will flesh out the future of the Task Force's work in light of potential evolution of Switzerland foreign policy and neutrality.