According to Article 78 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, cultural heritage and properties are regulated by the Nature and Cultural Heritage Act and Ordinance, whose aims are to:
- preserve and protect the landscape and scenery, including historical sites and natural and cultural monuments
- the support of cantonal monument preservation through federal contributions
- support the research and training of specialists.
There are two federal advisory commissions on cultural heritage, namely, the Federal Commission for the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage and the Swiss Federal Commission for Monument Preservation. The Federal Office for the Environment and the Federal Office of Culture only play a consultative role. Cantonal offices also collaborate with these commissions.
Other federal legislation in this domain includes:
- Federal Act on Museums and Collections of the Swiss Confederation of 2009
- Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property of 2003
- Federal Decree of 19 June 1975 on two UNESCO Conventions concerning the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Conservation of Wetlands
- Ordinance on the Federal Inventory of Sites in Switzerland worthy of Protection (VISOS)
- Ordinance on the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments (VBLN)
- Ordinance of 14 April 2010 on the Federal Inventory of Historic Transport Routes in Switzerland (VIVS)
Switzerland is a member of many international conventions, including the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (WCW), the Granada Convention of 3 October 1985 for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage in Europe, the Malta Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of 16 January 1992, the European Landscape Convention, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and the Faro Convention (the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society).
Excursus: The Protection of Cultural Property in Switzerland
As witnesses to history, as identity-forming objects of a community and its culture, cultural property is safeguarded within the framework of the protection of cultural property (KGS). By acceding to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (SR 0.520.3) in 1962, Switzerland undertook to establish measures to respect and protect its own and other countries’ cultural property. Framework conditions can be found, among others, in the Federal Act on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Disaster and Emergency (KGSG). According to the Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP, “Implementation is the responsibility of the cantons in all cases where responsibility does not lie directly with the Confederation”.