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Useful news items from and of Switzerland of particular interest to international Geneva

Curated by Peter Hulm

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A Swiss scientist's infographic about COVID-19 in Switzerland: much the best source — Added 31 August 2020

European vacationers face threats of sudden and ever-changing COVID-19 travel rules: Switzerland now off U.K. 'safe' list — 30 August 2020

Call for Papers: Sustainability Special Issue on Transboundary Sustainable Mountain Governance — 30 August 2020

Zurich Film Fest gives Golden Icon Award to Juliette Binoche, the first French artiste to receive prize — 29 August 2020

Swiss banks are turning their backs on commodity trading — 27 August 2020

Five die after coronavirus infects Swiss nursing home — 27 August 2020

Switzerland's official COVID-19 patient zero was a Ticino dentist on 21 February who attended a conference in Milan (French, paywalled) — 27 August 2020

Swiss researchers confirm hydroxychloroquin does not work against COVID-19 (French, paywalled) — 26 August 2020

Geneva Cities Hub launched + YouTube of event — 25 August 2020

Looking at international Geneva's architecture — 25 August 2020

Geneva-based UN staff fight against pay cuts — 21 August 2020

Staff Surveys Reveal Widespread Racism at the United Nations — 21 August 2020

The survey revealed that "more than 1 in 3 staff have personally experienced racial discrimination and/or have witnessed others facing racial discrimination in the workplace. And two-thirds of those who experienced racism did so on the basis of nationality".

'Worse than Brexit!' Switzerland sent huge warning over bid to overthrow EU initiative — 18 August 2020

Coronavirus: new cases in Switzerland rise 35 per cent this week — 14 August 2020

Ex-Credit Suisse Banker Commits Suicide — 13 August 2020

Working with a block: Flon Hotel, Lausanne — 10 August 2020

Head for the hills: Virus clampdowns crush Swiss city hotels — 6 August 2020

ILO Convention achieves universal ratification for first time, against Worst Child Labour — 4 August 2020

Spiraling Museum in Switzerland Designed to Mimic the Swirling Mechanics of a Watch — 3 August 2020

Coronavirus: 40% jump in new cases in Switzerland this week — 31 July 2020

Pamela Coke-Hamilton of Jamaica new Executive Director, International Trade Centre — 24 July 2020

What kills international organisations? When and why international organisations terminate: external events (paywall) — 22 July 2020

Hundreds of Millions Flow From Russian Ministry Into An Obscure Geneva Organization — And Officials' Pockets — 22 July 2020

Coronavirus prevalence in Geneva: "we estimated that for every reported confirmed case, there were 11·6 infections in the community." — 22 July 2020 posting from 11 June 2020

The Nespresso coffee revolution in depth — 14 July 2020

Dr Bruno Oberle of Switzerland named IUCN Director General — 13 July 2020

Immigration slowdown hits Swiss rents, -4.2% in Lake Geneva region — 9 July 2020

Vaud and Jura extend compulsory mask-wearing to shops — 9 July 2020


Geneva's landmark Jet d'eau running again after 83-day shut down

Geneva's famous "Jet d'Eau" started up again, after being shut down since March 20 to protect its maintenance workers from Covid-19. It has been gushing for 125 years.

ungeneva (LINK)

swissinfo (LINK)

The changing face of International Geneva — 5 June 2020

Listing of international organizations around the world

bankexamstoday (LINK)

Half of Geneva's surveyed NGOs have 'substantial' fears for their future

79% of NGOs in Geneva have been forced to reduce their activitiesdue to the pandemic, but only one in four have cut staff.

14% said funds had been withdrawn amid the pandemic, while 36% experienced reduced funding, and 42% delayed.

Around 5% (six NGOs) said the crisis situation poses a danger for the future of their organisation, while 47% (53) said the threat was 'substantial'.

90% of the 120 NGOs that replied to the Geneva canton's survey said they have close working ties with the UN.

77% said they had to cancel meetings planned in Geneva. Three-quarters of NGOs have set up projects linked to Covid.

According to the canton's International Geneva welcome service (CAGI), 420 (+5%) were registered last year, employing 3,109 people (+6%). The status of 220 other NGOs in the canton was unclear.

200 NGOs employed at least one person, while two-thirds employed less than ten. Most are active in the humanitarian, human rights and migration fields.

expatica (LINK)

Can International Geneva survive the Covid-19 geopolitical fallout?

"We are at an inflection point in the international system. What is really new here is the emergence of non-state actors such as multinational companies [...] and transnational non-states actors that are increasingly challenging states' sovereignty on a global level." (LINK)

WHO Foundation Established to Support Critical Global Health Needs

The WHO Foundation, based in Geneva, is "an independent grant-making entity, that will support the Organization's efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges".

It was founded on the initiative of Professor Thomas Zeltner, former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority.

who (LINK)

Swiss Federal Council decides on extensive easing of measures as of 6 June

All events for up to 300 people may now go ahead. Spontaneous gatherings of up to 30 people are now permitted. All leisure and entertainment businesses and tourist attractions may reopen.

admin (LINK)

Swiss further easing of entry restrictions from 8 June

From 8 June, the cantons will begin processing applications from workers from the EU/EFTA member states. In addition, Swiss companies will be allowed to employ highly skilled workers from third countries if this is in the public interest, or if they are urgently required.

The Federal Council plans to lift all travel restrictions and re-establish the free movement of persons across the Schengen area no later than 6 July. Border controls with Germany, Austria and France will be lifted as early as 15 June, as previously announced.

admin (LINK)

Three quarters of Swiss restaurants reopen

The restaurants estimate their returns are 60% down on 2019. Two out of five say their survival is in peril, according to a Gastro Suisse online poll.

Restaurants say they had to reduce seating by 35-65% to maintain official distancing of two metres.

Gastro Suisse by ats on swissquote (LINK)

UN Geneva launches international art contest for you to judge online: The Future We Want

Geneva-based permanent missions to the United Nations were invited to submit works of art. More than 40 submissions have been received from the missions, representing five continents.

People from around the world are invited to rate their favorite works of art until 18 June, keeping in mind the theme of the contest “The Future We Want”. The 10 artworks cumulating the highest rating scores will be selected and a jury of children will pick the three final winners during an exhibition at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The three winners will have a book about their work produced by the jury and the Perception Change Project. A special prize will also be given by the Director-General of UN Geneva.

unog (LINK)

Swiss Sustainable Funds Awards 2020 names finalists for 9 June 2020

Categories include: World shares, Swiss shares, European shares, Emerging Country shares and thematic shares, global bonds and corporate bonds.

Global shares

  • DPAM INVEST B Equities World Sustainable A
  • LO Funds - Generation Global (USD) I A
  • RobecoSAM Global Gender Equality Impact Equities C
  • RobecoSAM Sustainable Healthy Living Fund C
  • Schroder ISF Global Sustainable Gro C Acc

Swiss shares

  • Cadmos - Swiss Engagement B
  • GAM Swiss Sustainable Companies D
  • Swisscanto (CH) EF SMC Switzerland (I) AA CHF
  • Synchrony Small & Mid Caps CH A
  • Vontobel Fund (CH)-Ethos Eq Swiss Mid & Small A

letemps (LINK)

Geneva Library reopens physical lending service

Other sections remain closed. (LINK)

Covid-19 brings Swiss watchmaking to a standstill

Switzerland's watchmaking industry has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, with the sector likely to suffer the worst crisis of its history in 2020. Nevertheless, experts are confident in the ability of the industry to recover, as it has done in the past.

"Of the 50,000 people working in businesses that are covered by collective labour agreements, 40,000 are currently on partial unemployment. Something which has never been seen in the history of Swiss watchmaking,2 says Ludovic Voillat, spokesperson for the Convention of Swiss Watchmaking Employers.

swissinfo (LINK)

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

Switzerland is gradually easing unprecedented Covid-19 restrictions in a bid to avoid further damage to the economy. Thanks to the efforts of individual fundraisers, the Swiss Solidarity fund has raised more than CHF37 million to help those most in need during the pandemic.

Coronavirus cases: 30,130. Coronavirus deaths:1833.

swissinfo (LINK)

Swiss plan to ask diners for contacts dropped over privacy

The Swiss government backed down from plans to require restaurants and bars to take the names and phone numbers of their patrons as a way to fight the coronavirus, after the plan fell foul of privacy concerns.

apnews (LINK)

Coronavirus: new rules for Switzerland's restaurants

Restaurants in Switzerland will be able to reopen on Monday 11 May 2020. But they'll need to follow strict rules.

All diners must be seated. Dining or drinking standing is not allowed. Live bands, karaoke and games such as billiards, darts or bowling are banned too.

lenews (LINK)


In Geneva's Lockdown, a Welcome Chance to Get to Know Your Neighbors

If your idea of normal is Glasgow or New York City, you might think: Geneva is in lockdown? How can they tell?


COVID-19 / Regulations

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

With measures to protect staff and customers, hair stylists, physiotherapists, florists and garden/DIY stores re-opened on April 27. Dental and medical centres can provide non-urgent care. From May 11, additional businesses and schools can re-open. Others are to follow on June 8.

swissinfo (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

Lowest paid in Switzerland suffering 50% partial unemployment

The President of USS, the Swiss trade union movement, says over 50% of the lowest paid are on partial unemployment, compared to 5% of the top salaried. He called for a reduction in health insurance premiums.

A 25 April report from the Swiss economic office SECO said one working Swiss in three, 1.85 million, have filed for partial unemployment compensation.

20min (LINK, in French)

COVID-19 / Health

Children in Geneva and Vaud ill with Kawasaki-like disease

Two children from the Vaud are in the Lausanne University Hospital, another three have been diagnosed as suffering from the disease though all five have not registered as positive for COVID-19. Another three are recorded in Geneva, all of whom had contact with the corona virus.

20min (LINK, in French)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece : Is the Swiss government engaged in false news and not doing its job? (LINK)

Sanitizers dearest at gas stations, masks much the same price all over Switzerland

Aldi and Lidl cheapest for sanitizers, less than CHF2, Migros CHF3.75-9, filling stations: CHF5.55 - 15!

20min (LINK, in German)


Swiss crypto sector going bankrupt fast – Swiss Blockchain Federation

"Approximately 90% crypto firms will go bankrupt in the next six months". Entrepreneurs abandoning the Swiss Crypto Valley. Swiss crypto firms face funding bottlenecks.

cryptopolitan (LINK)


Geneva movement for 'new deal' of solidarity post COVID-19

Geneva's chambre de l'économie sociale et solidaire has called for a "new deal" enshrining its principles after COVID-19. The 15-year-old organization says it has more than 650 members, 350 businesses and organizations with thousands of employees in the Geneva region. It puts the Chamber's turnover at CHF430 million a year.

20min (LINK, in French)

unctad (LINK)


Swiss-based Infomaniak offers "free and secure videoconferencing"

"Infomaniak Meet prevents participants from being listed and analysed by tech giants. Your guests join video conferences without having to provide their email address. All they need to do to join a meeting is click on your link. Infomaniak Meet runs without the need to register, without proprietary software and without analysing your data. Organise a multi-party video conference with as many participants as you want."

infomaniak (LINK)


Geneva Disarmament Platform closing down after 3.5 years

"After 30 April, the GDP will continue to exist as an NGO (a non-profit association under Swiss law) but will have no staff or operations. The website will remain available at least until the end of 2020, but it will no longer be updated. We therefore encourage you to seek other sources of information regarding disarmament activities, such as the Reaching Critical Will and UNODA websites."

Unfortunately, like other NGOs in the disarmament field, over the past few months the Platform has faced serious funding challenges. This already difficult situation was compounded by the current global COVID-19 crisis, which made it impossible for the Platform to continue implementing its planned projects. The GDP's governing Committee therefore made the difficult decision to cease operations.

"Over the past year, the GDP has focused its work on developing the concept of weapons governance as a subset of global governance and a means of reinvigorating a sector often plagued by a silos mentality and resistance to change. This resulted in the identification of a great set of ideas with interesting potential for development, that we hope will be carried forward." (LINK)


ProtonMail promises new anti-censorship features

As part of a major overhaul, the free Swiss-based email and VPN service says it will introduce alternative routing to prevent censorship of Proton apps. Users do not need to do anything. ProtonMail and ProtonVPN automatically acts if it thinks you might be censored.

ProtonMail also announced the addition of local servers in several countries, as well as more free ones in the U.S., and the addition of six new languages, including French, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese.

ProtonMail adds: "We're also supporting the global fight against COVID-19. In addition to donating email and VPN services, we are the world's 4th largest corporate donor to the Rosetta@home project (as of this writing), providing computing resources to researchers working to predict the atomic-scale structure of important coronavirus proteins. Learn more about our COVID-19 efforts."

protonmail (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

Swiss to ease further measures from 11 May

From Monday, 11 May, shops, restaurants markets, museums and libraries will be allowed to reopen, classes can be held again in primary and lower secondary schools, and sports training sessions will be allowed. There will be a significant increase in scheduled public transport services. (LINK)

Swiss Federal Council fleshes out support for airlines

"The liquidity needs of Swiss and Edelweiss are estimated to be around CHF 1.5 billion up to the end of 2020. This liquidity shortfall is to be made up by a consortium of banks with the help of COVID plus credits. 85% of the funds drawn down, but no more than CHF 1.275 billion, should be secured by federal guarantees.

"A holding in Swiss or Edelweiss is not envisaged, as the success of Swiss and Edelweiss is essentially linked to their significant integration into Lufthansa Group. However, the loans will be secured by Swiss and Edelweiss shares."

"easyJet Switzerland should be able to cover its liquidity needs via its parent company. Therefore, the conditions for a subsidiary federal commitment are not met at the moment. As its turnover is less than CHF 500 million, easyJet Switzerland also has the option of applying for a COVID bridging credit."

"The aviation-related businesses required to maintain Switzerland's international links, such as Swissport International, Gategroup and SR Technics, operate worldwide and are majority-owned by Asian investors. The current corporate structures of Swissport and Gategroup do not yet permit financial support from the Confederation under the conditions laid down. The funds needed for possible measures to support the parts of aviation-related businesses which are critical for Switzerland are estimated at around CHF 600 million."

"The Federal Council is petitioning Parliament for guarantee credits totalling CHF 1.875 billion: CHF 1.275 billion to secure the loans to Swiss airlines and CHF 600 million to support aviation-related businesses at the national airports. To enable the Confederation to react quickly if necessary [to provide cash support], the Federal Council is requesting a supplementary credit of CHF 600 million [for aviation-related businesses] at the same time as the guarantee credit."



Swiss journalist of the year: Mehdi Atmani, for his Crypto AG stories

Atmani, 36, a freelance journalist, is the first to receive the title in the Swiss Press Awards from the Reinhardt von Graffenried foundation. His investigations led to a series on the French-Swiss TV website in November 2019. But it was only in February 2020 that his findings made any waves, when the Swiss-German Rundschau programme took it up, the Foundation notes.

On 22 February Rundschau reported that U.S. intelligence and the German secret service spied on over 100 States for decades through doctored machines from the Swiss firm Crypto AG.

20min (LINK in French)

COVID-19 / U.N.

UNOG reports 17 confirmed victims of coronavirus

These are:

  • 2 cases at the UN Conference for Trade and Development
  • 2 cases at the United Nations Environment Programme
  • 1 case at the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar
  • 1 case at the Office of Internal Oversight Services
  • 2 cases at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • 1 case at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
  • 8 cases at the United Nations Office at Geneva

Sport / Crime

Time runs out on 2006 World Cup affair trial

On 27 April, the statute of limitations expired on a Swiss court case in which former German FA (DFB) Presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, as well as former DFB Secretary-General Horst R. Schmidt and former FIFA Secretary-General Urs Linsi had been facing allegations of fraud. This brought the trial in Bellinzona to an end with no verdict on any of the charges.

dw (LINK)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece: Fifa's Shame : Kidnapping the Game (LINK)


Bloodtests suggest Geneva positives 5 times the official figures

Antibody blood tests, run on a randomly selected sample of the canton's population, suggest around 27,000 might have been infected by the virus, a number 5.7 times the official count of 4,733 recorded on 24 April 2020.

lenews (LINK)

YouTube playlist of "Pocket Lectures" on coronavirus from Heidi.News, Graduated Institute and the promised Geneva Solutions platform

Particularly from Professor Richard Baldwin, Director of the Graduate Institute.

youtube (LINK)

The inside story of the WHO's response to coronavirus

"Trump has accused [W.H.O.] of withholding critical information about the danger of Covid-19, and being under the control of China. None of the accusations are supported by the facts."

theguardian (LINK)


Legendary UN Troubleshooter Gets His Own Hollywood Biopic

The much-anticipated biopic among United Nations watchers, "Sergio", a drama relating the tale of Sergio Vieira de Mello, opened today on Netflix.

Sergio died on Aug. 19, 2003, with 21 colleagues in a terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad. He was, at the time, the UN special representative to Iraq, on temporary leave from his post as the UN's human-rights chief, based in Geneva. He was 55 years old. Since 2009, Aug. 19 is observed annually as World Humanitarian Day in honor of humanitarians killed on duty.

"Sergio was an inspiration to so many of us – and still is," says Michael Keating, a former UN special representative to Somalia who now leads the European Institute of Peace in Brussels.

passblue (LINK)

Related GLOBAL-GENEVA piece : The Sergio Vieira de Mello Academic Consortium: Good practice for refugee integration (LINK)


Matterhorn in Swiss Alps lit up with American flag in show of solidarity during coronavirus

thehill (LINK)

Switzerland leads neighbours on coronavirus testing

By 16 April 2020, close to 2.4% of the population had been tested. Rates in Germany (2.1%), Italy (2.0%) and Austria (1.9%) were similarly high. Among neighbouring countries, France stands out. There, only 0.7% of the population had been tested by 14 April 2020. Rates in the US (1.0%) and UK (0.5%) were also comparatively low. (LINK)

Swiss Federal Council to gradually ease measures against the new coronavirus

"On 27 April, hospitals will be able to resume all medical procedures, including non-urgent procedures, and outpatient medical practices, hairdressing salons, massage practices and cosmetic studios will be allowed to reopen. DIY stores, garden centres and florists will also be allowed to reopen." Ah, garden centres!

Second and third phase: 11 May and 8 June. (LINK)

COVID-19 / Economy

Swiss Federal Council extends measures by a week to 26 April but decides on gradual easing

"The measures introduced to combat the coronavirus epidemic are being followed well and are having the desired effect. They will be extended by a week until Sunday, 26 April, but should then gradually begin to be eased before the end of the month." (LINK)


Want feedback from Federer? Tweet him your volleying video

Roger Federer offered stuck-at-home amateurs the ultimate online fantasy camp of sorts, a chance to get tennis tips from a guy many consider the greatest of all time.

apnews (LINK)


Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel maintain first-year university exams

But failing scores will not count.

20min (LINK) in French, requires disabling adblocker


EPFL-invented 'SmartBra' can detect cancer

20min (LINK), in French, requires disabling adblocker


Swiss dies of COVID-19 in Thai luxury residence

82-year-old in Hua-Hin had been in bad health for months previously. The restaurant is serving only takeout meals.

20min (LINK) in French, requires deactivating adblockers

Switzerland's COVID-19 aid package 'should help the country avoid a massive wave of joblessness'

Switzerland's largest ever aid package launched to counter the economic impact of the new coronavirus epidemic should help the country avoid a massive wave of joblessness, the head of the government's labour department said. Companies employing 1.45 million workers — or nearly 29% of the entire workforce — have applied so far for short-time work compensation. Under the so-called “Kurzarbeit” scheme — part of Switzerland's 62 billion Swiss franc ($63.7 billion) aid package — employees get 80% of their wages from the government. The aim was to remove the burden of paying wages from companies, so they could ramp up employment again after the crisis.

reuters (LINK)

Sport / Crime

Former Fox executives indicted in Fifa bribery scheme

Multimillion dollar scheme involved kickbacks to Fifa officials for broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup

theguardian (LINK)

COVID-19 / Quarantine

Swiss hotel selling luxury quarantine with $500 coronavirus test

Stay in apartment ranges from $800-$2000 per night.

cnbc (LINK)


Infomaniak offers 3-month free trial of its collaboration software

infomaniak (LINK)