Haiti and Switzerland maintain close relations, with a particularly strong commitment from Switzerland at the civil society level. An important factor linking the two countries is the French language. Following the 2010 earthquake and various natural disasters (hurricanes) in 2016 and 2017, Switzerland stepped up its humanitarian activities in Haiti.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Haiti
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss representation in Port-au-Prince was upgraded to an embassy in July 2011. Initially focusing primarily on international cooperation, its programmes and projects now include humanitarian aid, development cooperation, human security and cooperation as part of the community of French-speaking countries.
A large number of Swiss non-governmental organisations are active in Haiti, some 20 of which have joined forces in the association 'Plate-Forme Haïti de Suisse'.
The two countries signed a framework agreement on technical cooperation and humanitarian aid in July 2014. Switzerland will cease its international cooperation work in Haiti at the end of the 2021-2024 period.
Trade volumes between the two countries are modest. In 2020 imports from Haiti amounted to CHF 3.5 million, while exports from Switzerland to Haiti totalled CHF 2.2 million.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers in Haiti can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has supported development projects in Haiti since the late 1990s. It significantly strengthened its humanitarian commitment following the earthquake in 2010. The current cooperation strategy places a stronger focus on long-term development cooperation with Haiti.
Swiss development cooperation in Haiti focuses principally on the rule of law and good governance, agriculture and food security, and also on rehabilitation and disaster risk reduction. Switzerland's bilateral development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Haiti amounts to on average CHF 18.5 million annually, totalling CHF 74 million for the period 2018–21.
Switzerland participates in, among other things, funding the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival.
Swiss nationals in Haiti
In 2020 there were 105 Swiss citizens living in Haiti.
History of bilateral relations
Haiti, formerly a French colony, declared its independence in 1804. Switzerland recognised the new state immediately. Following a period during which Haiti was occupied by US troops, Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in Port-au-Prince in 1935, which became a consulate in 1959 and a consulate general in 2006. It was upgraded to an embassy in 2011.
In June 2011, the consular services were transferred to the regional consular centre in Santo Domingo.
Switzerland represented Haitian interests in several countries during the Second World War and in Cuba from 1964 to 1967.