Humanitarian affairs

Filipino children are gathered in front of a tent provided by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid
Filipino children are gathered in front of a tent provided by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid. © SDC

The Humanitarian Affairs Section of the Swiss permanent mission in Geneva represents the interests of Switzerland within the major humanitarian organisations based in Geneva. It defends the country's position on issues that are priorities for Switzerland and supports special initiatives.

As the world's humanitarian capital, Geneva provides a unique, favourable platform for the most important actors in the sector. Most major humanitarian organisations have established their main headquarters there: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Others have a secondary headquarters there, for example the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). A multitude of international NGOs are also based in Geneva.

The Humanitarian Affairs Section of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva represents and safeguards the interests of Switzerland within these various organisations.

Its tasks are as follows:

  • Act as interface between all of the actors present in Geneva and the relevant Swiss federal authorities in the areas of humanitarian affairs and migration.
  • Participate in governing bodies and support groups of organisations of which Switzerland is a member.
  • Promote matters of priority to Switzerland in the humanitarian sector: international humanitarian law, protection for civilians in armed conflict, disaster risk reduction and improved humanitarian coordination.
  • Support the development of tools geared towards improving the quality of the emergency response.
  • Support special initiatives such as the Nansen initiative for the protection of people affected by disaster-induced cross-border displacement, or the joint Swiss-ICRC initiative to enhance respect for international humanitarian law.
  • Ensure Switzerland's active participation in current humanitarian processes such as the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the World Humanitarian Summit.