Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
(in German) Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten
(in French) Département fédéral des affaires étrangères
(in Italian) Dipartimento federale degli affari esteri
(in Romansh) Departament federal d’affars exteriurs
Logo der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft.svg
Bundeshaus 1128 (west wing).jpg
The west wing of the Federal Palace of Switzerland.
Agency overview
Formed1848; 172 years ago (1848)
JurisdictionFederal administration of Switzerland
Minister responsible

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA, German: Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten, French: Département fédéral des affaires étrangères, Italian: Dipartimento federale degli affari esteri, Romansh: About this soundDepartament federal d’affars exteriurs ), so named since 1979, is one of the seven Departments of the Swiss government federal administration of Switzerland, and corresponds in its range of tasks to the ministry of foreign affairs in other countries. The Department is always headed by one of the members of the Swiss Federal Council. As of 1 November 2017, the department is headed by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis.

Former names[edit]

  • 1848–1887: Federal Political Department
  • 1888–1895: Federal Department of the Exterior
  • 1896–1978: Federal Political Department


The mission of the FDFA is to safeguard Switzerland's interests abroad and its relations with other countries. It does so by means of Swiss Foreign Policy, whose objectives have been laid down in Art. 54 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution (BV) as follows:

The Confederation shall strive to preserve the independence of Switzerland and its welfare; it shall, in particular, contribute to alleviate need and poverty in the world, and to promote respect for human rights, democracy, the peaceful coexistence of nations and the preservation of natural resources.

The priorities of Swiss Foreign Policy for the years 2012–2015 include:

  • Fostering and cultivating Swiss relations with its neighbouring countries and the European Union (EU);
  • Strengthening Switzerland's commitment to stability in Europe and in the world;
  • Intensifying and diversifying strategic partnerships and Switzerland's multilateral commitment; and
  • Enhancing the support and offering of services provided to Swiss citizens abroad.

Originally it was the rotating Swiss President who headed the "Political Department" (PD) for a one-year term. In 1888, the Department was restructured by Numa Droz, who straight away headed the Department for five years. In 1896, the Federal council returned to the original system with a Federal Councillor heading the Department only for a given one-year term. The one-year limitation was abandoned in 1914. Since 1979, the Department has retained the name by which it still goes today.


  • General Secretariat
  • State Secretariat
    • Presidential Affairs and Protocol
    • Crisis Management Centre
  • Directorate of Political Affairs
    • Europe, Central Asia, Council of Europe, OSCE Division
    • Middle East and North Africa Division
    • Subsaharan Africa and Francophonie Division if
    • Asia and the Pacific Division
    • Americas Division
    • United Nations and International Organisations
    • Human Security Division
    • Sectoral Foreign Policy Division
    • Division for Security Policy
  • Directorate of European Affairs, DEA
  • Directorate of Corporate Resources (DR)
  • Consular Directorate CD
  • Directorate of International Law DIL
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

List of heads of department[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]