Swiss pandemic governance

Covid-19 put pandemic management in Switzerland to the test. This project will examine the legal framework for dealing with pandemics and show how Switzerland can improve its crisis governance.

  • Project description

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    Crises challenge conventional state responsibilities and processes. State players have to respond quickly and constantly adapt measures to new developments and findings. This project will examine how the efficiency and legitimacy of crisis governance in Switzerland can be improved. Specific proposals will show how democratic participation can be maximised, the balance of power between authorities maintained, federal cooperation adapted and human rights respected, protected and fulfilled to the greatest possible extent. The aim is to strengthen the resilience of existing (and new) institutions and improve processes in such a way that future crises can be managed with even greater efficiency and legitimacy.

  • Background

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    At first glance, Switzerland seemed to be well prepared for a health crisis. The federal and cantonal constitutions as well as the Epidemics Act governed who was to decide what in the event of an emergency. However, experience during the Covid pandemic showed that the legal framework in Switzerland was not designed for a protracted health crisis affecting every area of people’s lives.

  • Aim

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    The aim is to improve the constitutional, legal and institutional framework conditions of Swiss crisis governance. The first step will examine the legal framework conditions and how they were applied during the pandemic. We will then go on to identify weaknesses, deficiencies and ambiguities in the system. Finally, we will propose ways in which parliaments, governments, administrative agencies and courts can prepare themselves more effectively for future health crises.

  • Relevance

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    The project will identify the legal strengths and weaknesses of Swiss crisis governance. The researchers will work closely with political decision makers and make use of the lessons that other countries have learnt from the pandemic. The scientifically based proposals will also have real-world significance so that Switzerland can reinforce the crisis resilience of its institutions and increase the legitimacy of future crisis management actions.

  • Application

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    The comprehensive proposals for improving crisis governance will apply to the federal and cantonal constitutions, the Epidemics Act and other legislation and to the application of the legal framework conditions. Implementing the proposals will enable the Confederation, Cantons and municipalities to prepare more effectively for health and other crises, act democratically and constitutionally under pressure, effectively protect human rights and maintain unity in diversity during the crisis.

  • Original title

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    Improving Swiss Pandemic Governance – How to Strengthen Democracy, Federalism and Human Rights Implementation in Times of Crisis