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Table of Contents

  1. Preamble
  2. Title 1. General Provisions
  3. Title 2. Fundamental Rights, Civil Rights and Social Goals
  4. Chapter 1. Fundamental Rights
  5. Chapter 2. Citizenship and Political Rights
  6. Chapter 3. Social Goals
  7. Title 3. Confederation, Cantons, and Municipalities
  8. Chapter 1. Relationship between the Confederation and the Cantons
  9. Section 1. Tasks of the Confederation and the Cantons
  10. Section 2. Cooperation between the Confederation and the Cantons
  11. Section 3. Municipalities
  12. Section 4. Federal Guarantees
  13. Chapter 2. Powers
  14. Section 1. Relations with foreign countries
  15. Section 2. Security, National and Civil Defense
  16. Section 3. Education, Research, and Culture
  17. Section 4. Environment and Zoning
  18. Section 5. Public Works and Transportation
  19. Section 6. Energy and Communication
  20. Section 7. Economy
  21. Section 8. Housing, Work, Social Security and Health
  22. Section 9. Residence and Domicile of Foreigners
  23. Section 10. Civil and Criminal Law, Weights and Measures
  24. Chapter 3. Finances
  25. Title 4. People and Cantons
  26. Chapter 1. General Provisions
  27. Chapter 2. Initiative and Referendum
  28. Title 5. Federal Authorities
  29. Chapter 1. General Provisions
  30. Chapter 2. Federal Parliament
  31. Section 1. Organisation
  32. Section 2. Procedure
  33. Section 3. Powers
  34. Chapter 3. Federal Government and Federal Administration
  35. Section 1. Organisation and Procedure
  36. Section 2. Powers
  37. Chapter 4. Federal Supreme Court and other Judicial Authorities
  38. Title 6. Revision of the Federal Constitution and Temporal Provisions
  39. Chapter 1. Revision
  40. Chapter 2. Transitory Provisions
  41. Final provisions of the Federal Decree on new Federal Constitution of December 18 1998

Constitution of Switzerland (1999, rev. 2002)

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4In the name of God Almighty!

5We, the Swiss People and Cantons,

6whereas, we are mindful of our responsibility towards creation;

7resolve to renew our alliance to strengthen liberty and democracy, independence and peace in solidarity and openness towards the world;

8are determined to live our diversity in unity respecting one another;

9are conscious of our common achievements and our responsibility towards future generations;

10and know that only those remain free who use their freedom, and that the strength of people is measured by the welfare of the weakest of its members;

11now, therefore, we adopt the following Constitution:

12Title 1. General Provisions

13Article 1. Swiss Confederation

14The Swiss People and the Cantons of Zurich, Berne, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwald and Nidwald, Glarus, Zug, Fribourg, Solothurn, Basel City and Basel Land, Schaffhausen, Appenzell Outer Rhodes and Appenzell Inner Rhodes, St. Gall, Grisons, Aargau, Thurgau, Ticino, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Geneva, and Jura, form the Swiss Confederation.

15Article 2. Purpose

161. The Swiss Confederation shall protect the liberty and the rights of the people, and shall ensure the independence and security of the country.

172. It shall promote the common welfare, the sustainable development, the inner cohesion, and the cultural diversity of the country.

183. It shall ensure equal opportunities for all citizens to the extent possible.

194. It shall strive to secure the long-term preservation of natural resources, and to promote just and peaceful international order.

20Article 3. Cantons

21The Cantons are sovereign insofar as their sovereignty is not limited by the Federal Constitution; they shall exercise all rights which are not transferred to the Confederation.

22Article 4. National Languages

23The national languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.

24Article 5. Rule of Law

251. The state’s activities shall be based on and limited by the Rule of Law.

262. State activity must be in the public interest and proportional to the goals pursued.

273. State organs and private persons must act in good faith.

284. The Confederation and the Cantons shall respect international law.

29Article 6. Individual and Social Responsibility

30All persons are responsible for themselves, and shall make use of their abilities to contribute to achieving the goals of state and society.

31Title 2. Fundamental Rights, Civil Rights and Social Goals

32Chapter 1. Fundamental Rights

33Article 7. Human Dignity

34Human dignity shall be respected and protected.

35Article 8. Equality before the Law

361. All human beings are equal before the law.

372. Nobody shall suffer discrimination, particularly on grounds of origin, race, sex, age, language, social position, lifestyle, religious, philosophical or political convictions, or because of corporal or mental disability.

383. Men and women have equal rights. Legislation shall ensure equality in law and in fact, particularly in family, education, and work. Men and women shall have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.

394. Legislation shall provide for measures to eliminate disadvantages affecting disabled people.

40Article 9. Protection against Arbitrariness and Principle of Good Faith

41Every person has the right to be treated by the state organs without arbitrariness and in good faith.

42Article 10. Right to Live and Personal Freedom

431. Every person has the right to live. The death penalty is prohibited.

442. Every person has the right to personal liberty, particularly to corporal and mental integrity, and to freedom of movement.

453. Torture and any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited.

46Article 11. Protection of Children and Young People

471. Children and young people have the right to special protection of their integrity and to encouragement of their development.

482. They may exercise their rights themselves to the extent of their capacity to discern.

49Article 12. Right to Aid in Distress

50Persons in distress and incapable of looking after themselves have the right to be helped and assisted, and to receive the means that are indispensable for leading life in human dignity.

51Article 13. Right to Privacy

521. All persons have the right to receive respect for their private and family life, home, and secrecy of the mails and telecommunications.

532. All persons have the right to be protected against the abuse of personal data.

54Article 14. Right to Marriage and Family

55The right to marry and to have family is guaranteed.

56Article 15. Freedom of Religion and Philosophy

571. The freedom of religion and philosophy is guaranteed.

582. All persons have the right to choose their religion or philosophical convictions freely, and to profess them alone or in community with others.

593. All persons have the right to join or to belong to religious community, and to follow religious teachings.

604. No person shall be forced to join or belong to religious community, to participate in religious act, or to follow religious teachings.

61Article 16. Freedom of Opinion and Information

621. The freedom of opinion and information is guaranteed.

632. All persons have the right to form, express, and disseminate their opinions freely.

643. All persons have the right to receive information freely, to gather it from generally accessible sources, and to disseminate it.

65Article 17. Freedom of the Media

661. The freedom of the press, radio and television, and of other forms of public telecasting of productions and information is guaranteed.

672. Censorship is prohibited.

683. Editorial secrecy is guaranteed.

69Article 18. Freedom of Language

70The freedom of language is guaranteed.

71Article 19. Right to Primary Education

72The right to sufficient and free primary education is guaranteed.

73Article 20. Freedom of Science

74The freedom of scientific research and teaching is guaranteed.

75Article 21. Freedom of Art

76The freedom of art is guaranteed.

77Article 22. Freedom of Assembly

781. The freedom of assembly is guaranteed.

792. Every person has the right to organize assemblies, to participate in them or to stay away from them.

80Article 23. Freedom of Association

811. The freedom of association is guaranteed.

822. Every person has the right to form associations, to join or to belong to them, and to participate in their activities.

833. No person shall be forced to join or to belong to an association.

84Article 24. Freedom of Domicile

851. Swiss citizens have the right to establish their domicile anywhere within the country.

862. They have the right to leave or to return to Switzerland.

87Article 25. Protection against expulsion, extradition, and removal by force

881. Swiss citizens may not be expelled from the country; they may be extradited to foreign authority only with their consent.

892. Refugees may not be removed by force or extradited to state in which they are persecuted.

903. No person shall be removed by force to state where he or she is threatened by torture, or another means of cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment.

91Article 26. Right to property

921. The right to property is guaranteed.

932. Expropriation and restrictions of ownership equivalent to expropriation shall be fully compensated.

94Article 27. Economic Freedom

951. Economic freedom is guaranteed.

962. It contains particularly the freedom to choose one’s profession, and to enjoy free access to and free exercise of private economic activity.

97Article 28. Freedom to Unionize

981. Workers, employers, and their organizations have the right to unionize for the defense of their interests, to form unions and to join them or to keep out of them.

992. Conflicts shall be resolved to the extent possible through negotiation and mediation.

1003. Strike and lockout are permitted when they relate to labor relations, and when they are not contrary to obligations to keep labor peace or to resort to conciliation.

1014. Legislation may prohibit certain categories of persons from striking.

102Article 29. General Procedural Guarantees

1031. Every person has the right in legal or administrative proceedings to have the case treated equally and fairly, and judged within reasonable time.

1042. The parties have the right to be heard.

1053. Every person lacking the necessary means has the right to free legal assistance, unless the case appears to be without any chance of success. The person has moreover the right to free legal representation, to the extent that this is necessary to protect the person’s rights.

106Article 29a. Guarantee of Legal Proceedings

107Every person has the right to have legal disputes judged by judicial authority. The Confederation and the Cantons may in exceptional cases exclude judicial proceedings.

108Article 30. Judicial Proceedings

1091. Every person whose case must be judged in judicial proceedings has the right to have this done by court that is established by law, has jurisdiction, and is independent and impartial. Exceptional tribunals are prohibited.

1102. person against whom civil action is brought has the right to have the case heard before the court at the person’s domicile. Legislation may provide for another jurisdiction.

1113. The court hearing shall be public, and the judgment shall be publicly proclaimed. Legislation may provide for exceptions.

112Article 31. Habeas Corpus

1131. No person may be deprived of liberty except in the cases and in the forms provided by statute.

1142. All persons deprived of their liberty have the right to be informed immediately, and in language that they understand, of the reasons for their detention, and of their rights. They must have the opportunity to assert their rights. In particular, they have the right to have their close relatives informed.

1153. Every person taken into preventive detention has the right to be brought before judge without delay; the judge shall decide whether the person shall remain in detention or shall be released. Every person in preventive detention has the right to be judged within reasonable time.

1164. All persons who are deprived of their liberty without trial have the right to seize court at any time. The court shall decide as soon as possible whether the detention is legal.

117Article 32. Criminal procedure

1181. Every person shall be presumed innocent until the person is subject to condemnation having force of law.

1192. Every accused person has the right to be informed as soon as possible and in full detail of the accusations. The person must have the opportunity to exercise its means of defense.

1203. Every condemned person has the right to have the judgment reviewed by higher court. The cases where the Federal Supreme Court sits as court of sole instance are reserved.

121Article 33. Right of Petition

1221. Every person has the right to address petitions to authorities without suffering prejudice.

1232. The authorities must take cognizance of petitions.

124Article 34. Political Rights

1251. The political rights are guaranteed.

1262. The guarantee of political rights protects the free formation of opinion by the citizens and the unaltered expression of their will.

127Article 35. Realization of Fundamental Rights

1281. The fundamental rights shall be realized in the entire legal system.

1292. Whoever exercises function of the state must respect the fundamental rights and contribute to their realization.

1303. The authorities shall ensure that the fundamental rights also be respected in relations among private parties whenever the analogy is applicable.

131Article 36. Limitations of Fundamental Rights

1321. Any limitation of fundamental right requires legal basis. Grave limitations must be expressly foreseen by statute. Cases of clear and present danger are reserved.

1332. Any limitation of fundamental right must be justified by public interest, or serve for the protection of fundamental rights of other persons.

1343. Limitations of fundamental rights must be proportionate to the goals pursued.

1354. The essence of fundamental rights is inviolable.

136Chapter 2. Citizenship and Political Rights

137Article 37. Citizenships

1381. Every person who has the citizenship of Municipality and of the Canton to which it belongs, has Swiss citizenship.

1392. No person shall enjoy privilege or suffer prejudice because of his or her citizenship. Exceptions are possible to regulate political rights in bourgeoisies and corporations, and provide for participation in their assets, unless cantonal legislation excludes this.

140Article 38. Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship

1411. The Confederation shall regulate the acquisition and the loss of citizenship through descent, marriage and adoption. Moreover, it shall regulate the loss of Swiss citizenship on other grounds, and the reinstatement of citizenship.

1422. It shall set minimum requirements for the naturalization of foreigners by the Cantons, and grant naturalization permits.

1433. It shall facilitate the naturalization of stateless children.

144Article 39. Exercise of Political Rights

1451. The Confederation shall regulate the exercise of political rights in federal matters; the Cantons shall regulate the exercise of these rights in cantonal and municipal matters.

1462. The political rights shall be exercised at the domicile. The Confederation and the Cantons may foresee exceptions.

1473. No person shall exercise political rights in more than one Canton.

1484. The Cantons may provide that new domiciliaries may exercise political rights in cantonal and municipal matters only once waiting period of no more than three months has been observed.

149Article 40. Swiss citizens domiciled abroad

1501. The Confederation shall encourage links amongst Swiss citizens domiciled abroad, and their links with Switzerland. It may support organizations which pursue this goal.

1512. It shall legislate on the rights and obligations of Swiss citizens domiciled abroad, in particular on the exercise of the political rights on the federal level, the duty to render military or alternative service, assistance to needy persons, and social security.

152Chapter 3. Social Goals

153Article 41

1541. The Confederation and the Cantons shall strive to ensure that, in addition to personal responsibility and private initiative,

155 a.every person shall benefit from social security;

156 b.every person shall benefit from necessary health care;

157 c.the family as community of adults and children shall be protected and encouraged;

158 d.every person capable of working shall sustain himself or herself through working under fair and adequate conditions;

159 e.every person looking for housing shall find, for himself or herself and his or her family, appropriate housing at reasonable conditions;

160 f.children and young people and people of working age shall benefit from initial and continuing education according to their abilities;

161 g.children and young people shall be encouraged in their development to become independent and socially responsible persons, and they shall be supported in their social, cultural, and political integration.

1622. The Confederation and the Cantons shall strive to ensure that every person shall be insured against the economic consequences of old age, disability, illness, accidents, unemployment, maternity, orphanhood, and widowhood.

1633. They shall strive to realize the social goals within the framework of their constitutional powers and with the means available to them.

1644. No direct subjective right to prestations by the state may be derived from the social goals.

165Title 3. Confederation, Cantons, and Municipalities

166Chapter 1. Relationship between the Confederation and the Cantons

167Section 1. Tasks of the Confederation and the Cantons

168Article 42. Tasks of the Confederation

1691. The Confederation shall accomplish the tasks which are attributed to it by the Constitution.

1702. It shall assume the tasks which require uniform regulation.

171Article 43. Tasks of the Cantons

172The Cantons shall define the tasks which they shall accomplish within the framework of their powers.

173Section 2. Cooperation between the Confederation and the Cantons

174Article 44. Principles

1751. The Confederation and the Cantons shall collaborate, and shall support each other in the fulfillment of their tasks.

1762. They owe each other mutual consideration and support. They shall grant each other administrative and judicial assistance.

1773. Disputes between Cantons, or between Cantons, and the Confederation shall, to the extent possible, be resolved through negotiation or mediation.

178Article 45. Participation in Federal Decision Making

1791. In the cases foreseen by the Federal Constitution, the Cantons shall participate in the decision-making process on the federal level, in particular in federal legislation.

1802. The Confederation shall inform the Cantons timely and fully of its plans; it shall consult them if their interests are affected.

181Article 46. Implementation of Federal Law

1821. The Cantons shall implement federal law in conformity with the Constitution and the statute.

1832. The Confederation shall leave the Cantons as large space of action as possible, and shall take their particularities into account.

1843. The Confederation shall take into account the financial burden that is associated with implementing federal law by leaving sufficient sources of financing to the Cantons, and by ensuring an equitable financial equalization.

185Article 47. Autonomy of the Cantons

186The Confederation shall respect the autonomy of the Cantons.

187Article 48. Intercantonal Treaties

1881. The Cantons may enter into intercantonal treaties, and may create common organizations and institutions. They may, in particular, join forces to fulfill tasks of regional interest.

1892. The Confederation may participate in such organizations or institutions within the limits of its powers.

1903. Intercantonal treaties may not be contrary to the law or the interests of the Confederation, nor to the rights of other Cantons. The Confederation must be notified of such treaties.

191Article 49. Supremacy of and Respect for Federal Law

1921. Federal law takes precedence over contrary cantonal law.

1932. The Confederation shall ensure that the Cantons respect federal law.

194Section 3. Municipalities

195Article 50

1961. The autonomy of the Municipalities is guaranteed within the limits fixed by cantonal law.

1972. In its activity, the Confederation shall take into account the possible consequences for the Municipalities.

1983. In particular, it shall take into account the special situation of cities, agglomerations, and mountainous regions.

199Section 4. Federal Guarantees

200Article 51. Cantonal Constitutions

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  • Theoretical/Philosophical
  • Historical Commentary
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  • Current Events
  • International Perspectives
  • Other
  • separation of powers
  • rules
  • Rufus King
  • slave
  • slave labor
  • slavery
  • slave trade
  • Revolution
  • republicanism
  • presidency
  • Oliver Ellsworth
  • record
  • records
  • republican
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  • slaves
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  • William Jackson
  • Western Territory
  • Virginia Plan
  • taxes
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  • three-fifths clause
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  • contract clause
  • Dred Scott
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  • Elbridge Gerry
  • economics
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  • Articles of Confederation
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