Home Institution

Columbia University

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


In the minds of many, both within Switzerland and abroad, when one thinks of Switzerland one thinks neutrality, and often when one thinks neutrality one thinks Switzerland. It is perhaps for this reason that when Switzerland chose to sanction Russia much of the world was caught by surprise. Sensationalist newspapers were quick to jump to the conclusion that the age of Swiss neutrality is over. The government insists that there isn’t a kernel of truth in the matter. However, as is always the case, the truth is much more nuanced than either extreme. Using previous publications, current and historical data on the economy of Switzerland, four interviews with historians and professionals in the field, as well as analysis of the official statements released by the Swiss government, this paper will attempt to answer and understand exactly to what extent Switzerland deviated from its traditional understanding of neutrality.

The paper will look at three distinct factors. Economic changes, political changes, and societal factors. Using each of these prisms one will see to what extent they can be blamed for Switzerland's decision to sanction Russia and what their impacts on Switzerland’s neutrality may be. Be it abandoning or evolving neutrality this paper will attempt to understand in what direction the winds of Switzerland’s understanding of its own neutrality are blowing.


Diplomatic History | International Economics | International Relations | Peace and Conflict Studies


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