Micheline Calmy-Rey

Micheline Calmy-Rey

Former President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

Speaker biography

Micheline Calmy-Rey was born in Sion (Canton Valais) on July 8, 1945. She graduated in political science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. For 20 years she ran a small business in book distribution.

As a representative of the Social Democratic Party, Micheline Calmy-Rey was a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva from 1981 to 1997. She was then elected to the Geneva State Council and served as its president from 2001 to 2002. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cantonal Bank of Geneva (BCGE) and a member of the Bank Council of the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

Micheline Calmy-Rey Lecture Topics

  • Switzerland & the European Union: Quo Vadis?
  • International diplomacy – Switzerland as a global bridge builder
  • Switzerland as a financial and business location: The new global power order
  • Russia vs. Ukraine: Neutrality and Diplomacy as a Leadership Role

On December 4, 2002, Micheline Calmy-Rey was elected to the Federal Council. As head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), she pursued an active foreign policy from 2003 until the end of 2011.

This was characterized by her commitment to the expansion and development of Switzerland’s relations with the European Union (EU), through the strengthening and expansion of the so-called bilateral path. Micheline Calmy-Rey also advocated a stronger Swiss presence outside Europe, namely in Asia and Africa, and pursued an active neutrality policy in the areas of peacebuilding, respect for human rights, and poverty reduction. Notable highlights of this policy include the launch of the Geneva Initiative, the decisive contribution to the formation of the UN Human Rights Council, Kosovo’s independence, the mediation between Armenia and Turkey and Georgia and Russia, respectively, and the adoption of the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which allowed for the admission of the Israeli aid organization Magen David Adom to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

In 2007 and 2011, Micheline Calmy-Rey served as President of the Swiss Confederation on each occasion. In 2010, she took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and presided over the Ministerial Conference of the Francophonie in 2010 and 2011.

In May 2012, Micheline Calmy-Rey was appointed visiting professor at the University of Geneva. She holds an honorary doctorate from the International University in Geneva (IUG). Calmy-Rey serves on the governing bodies of the following organizations: International Crisis Group, Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) of the United Nations, and Geneva Call. She is president of the board of trustees of the Martin Ennals Foundation.

Micheline Calmy-Rey is author of:

  • «Die Schweiz, die ich uns wünsche», Zürich, Verlag Nagel & Kimche, 2014
  • «La Suisse que je souhaite», Lausanne, Editions Favre, 2014
  • «Justice sociale et liberté politique selon Calvin: clarification et perspectives», La Vie Protestante, Genf 2010


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