Saggi di Dodis

Saggi di Dodis 1 (2019/5)

David Rentsch

Die Affäre Losembe und die schweizerisch-zairischen Beziehungen 1972–1974

From 1972 to 1974, the Losembe affair defined diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Republic of Zaire, led by President Mobutu. Zaire requested the extradition of former high-ranking politician Batwanyele Losembe, who had fled to Switzerland after being accused in his home country of misappropriating public funds and of high treason. In the Federal Political Department (FPD) under Federal Councillor Graber, foreign policy was shaped by the protection of foreign economic interests, with human rights concerns playing a lesser role. The FPD and the Federal Council’s stance was, at least initially, opposed by the position of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), while a large part of the Swiss press voiced vehement protest, and the extradition was finally stopped by a Federal Court decision. The Losembe affair sheds light on the multi-layered nature of foreign policy and at the same time highlights the conflict-laden relationship between foreign policy, foreign trade and human rights in Cold War Switzerland.