Switzerland, its jurists, as VATTEL, MOYNIER, and BLUNTSCHLI, and social activists, as DUNANT, have played a leading role in the development of international law. Studying the emergence of International Humanitarian Law and the theories of International Law in their historical context contributes to an understanding of the development of International Humanitarian Law and International Law as they have evolved over the centuries.
The political and legal culture and environment in Switzerland from the 18th century onwards served not only for the natives but also for the intellectuals from all over Europe as a safe haven, where they could freely form their ideas without the fear of political persecution. In this sense Switzerland has not only manifestly promoted the development of International Law by its active role as a state in the international community but also by providing a solid breeding ground for the ideas of individuals.
Until the present day Switzerland maintained this status in the international community having not only the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Geneva but also the United Nations Office in Geneva, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and, among many other important UN programs, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to name only a few. VATTEL in his “Law of Nations” conveys his own praise for his native Switzerland: “I was born in a country of which liberty is the soul, the treasure, and the fundamental law; and my birth qualifies me to be the friend of all nations”.29
29Vattel, p. 20.