Switzerland and Afghanistan have good, long-standing relations marked by Switzerland's humanitarian and development activities in Afghanistan. Switzerland is actively assisting in the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan over the long term.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Afghanistan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland's work in development cooperation is focused on a long-term civilian programme through which it supports specific projects in various parts of the country. Since 2011, Switzerland has been a member of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan (ICG), which brings together political leaders from the two states' key partner countries. The ICG mainly focuses its activities on Afghanistan however.
Agriculture is the economic mainstay of Afghanistan, one of the world's least developed countries (LDCs). Trade between Afghanistan and Switzerland is small. In 2018, Swiss exports to Afghanistan amounted to CHF 2.6 million and consisted mainly of vehicles, agricultural products and machinery. Imports from Afghanistan – mainly precious metals, textiles and agricultural products – amounted to CHF 6.2 million.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Afghanistan can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
SERI: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The objectives of Switzerland's cooperation strategy in Afghanistan for the 2019–22 period are to support and improve sub-national institutions, contribute to good governance, promote respect for human rights as well as the inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development of the country.
Swiss humanitarian aid focuses on reintegrating and protecting refugees and internally displaced persons in Afghanistan, and on preventing food shortages in the country. To this end, Switzerland contributes financially to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Swiss nationals in Afghanistan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 24 Swiss nationals (including 8 dual nationals) were living in Afghanistan at the end of 2018.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Afghanistan in 1922, five years after Afghan independence, and the two states established diplomatic relations in 1928.
Switzerland maintained diplomatic relations with the government installed by the USSR after the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, while repeatedly condemning the Soviet occupation. It also continued to support the ICRC's work on behalf of the war victims.
Following the Taliban's takeover in 1996, Switzerland broke off official contacts with the government but maintained diplomatic relations. In 2000, it joined in the UN sanctions against the Taliban regime.
Historical Dictionary of Switzerland: Afghanistan (de, fr, it)