International legal institutions in The Hague

The Hague proudly proclaims itself as "the international city of peace and justice". Since the end of the 19th century, it has become one of the most important hubs of international law. Most international judicial bodies are currently based in The Hague. The Embassy's main tasks with respect to these institutions are to participate in negotiations with other states parties, both regarding legal and governance aspects, and to monitor cases currently before these international judicial bodies.

The Multilateral Section is particularly active in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world's first permanent international criminal court with universal jurisdiction charged with trying those responsible for the most serious crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Assembly of States Parties is the ICC's principal management oversight and legislative body and is composed of representatives of the 124 states that have ratified the Rome Statute. Within the assembly, Switzerland is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICC and on budgetary aspects.

The Embassy's activities are also related to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The PCA provides administrative support in international arbitration, mediation/conciliation and commissions of inquiry to settle disputes between states, private persons and intergovernmental organisations. As a member state of the PCA, Switzerland is represented in its Administrative Council, which is responsible for defining the organisation's policy (general guidance on the work of the PCA and supervision of its administration, budget and expenditure).

The Embassy's portfolio also includes the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). The mission of the HCCH is to work for the progressive unification of private international law rules adopted by different countries. The HCCH's member states adopt its budget and address governance issues.

In addition, the Embassy monitors and reports on developments related to the following international judicial bodies (non-exhaustive list):

  • the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial body of the United Nations, which has competence to settle disputes between states;
  • the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), charged with investigating the crimes committed during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and for trying those who bear primary responsibility for them;
  • the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which is responsible for carrying out the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda after the end of their respective mandates;
  • the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), set up to try those responsible for the terrorist attack of 14 February 2005 in Beirut, which killed Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and 22 others;
  • The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), established in 2015 to investigate allegations contained in a Council of Europe report published in 2011 which denounced serious violations of international law.

The Hague also hosts several academic institutes devoted to research on and teaching of law and international relations, including the: