31. January 2019, Swissinfo.ch
Aubert’s African adventure, a turning point for Swiss foreign policy
Forty years ago the Swiss foreign affairs minister spent two weeks travelling around West Africa. The visit opened a new chapter in Swiss foreign policy and triggered considerable controversy and heated debates back home about neutral Switzerland’s role in the world.
On Sunday January 14, 1979, a plane took off from Zurich airport heading for Lagos in Nigeria. On board was a Swiss delegation headed by Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Aubert link.
“Cabinet ministers had started travelling abroad a few years previously, but with Aubert there was a turning point,” said Sacha Zala, director of Dodis. “As part of Swiss foreign policy people started talking about human rights – a term which had previously been more or less a taboo for Swiss ministers. The policy of neutrality prevented talking about human rights, which would have been seen as interfering in the affairs of other countries.”