Even if there is no internationally accepted standard definition of terrorism, there appears to form widespread consensus concerning what a terrorist act actually is, namely a deliberate assault on civilians or civilian property with the aim of intimidating ordinary people or pressurising a state or international organisation into acting in a certain way or refraining from action. 

A current threat

Whatever its origin or the form it takes, terrorism is a crime for which there is absolutely no justification or excuse. It is not only a threat to all free and pluralistic societies but also to the rights of each individual. As the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001 have shown, international terrorism has recently taken on a new dimension. The urgency and intensity of the terrorist threat suddenly became evident for all to see, and states were made aware of just how important counter-terrorism and international cooperation in this field are. 

Switzerland’s commitment to counter terrorism and to respect for international law

Switzerland is actively involved in all efforts under way to fight terrorism. As one of the world’s most important financial centres, it has been campaigning for more effective regulations to put a stop to both the financing of terrorist activity and money laundering. Switzerland is an active member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

As grave as the terrorist threat is, it is important to remember that human rights remain inalienable, and that the fight against terrorism must always be fought with the means used to combat all forms of crime in accordance with the rule of law. International humanitarian law must be applied in all situations of armed conflict and without exception by all parties to armed conflict and by private individuals too. Switzerland is committed to upholding these principles and to ensuring that international law is applied more rigorously.

Last update 12.03.2024


FDFA Directorate of International Law (DIL)

Kochergasse 10
CH – 3003 Berne

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