Micheline Calmy-Rey

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Micheline Calmy-Rey
President of Switzerland
In office
1 January 2011 – 31 December 2011
Vice PresidentEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Preceded byDoris Leuthard
Succeeded byEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
In office
1 January 2007 – 31 December 2007
Vice PresidentPascal Couchepin
Preceded byMoritz Leuenberger
Succeeded byPascal Couchepin
Vice President of Switzerland
In office
1 November 2010 – 31 December 2010
PresidentDoris Leuthard
Preceded byMoritz Leuenberger
Succeeded byEveline Widmer-Schlumpf
In office
1 January 2006 – 31 December 2006
PresidentMoritz Leuenberger
Preceded byMoritz Leuenberger
Succeeded byPascal Couchepin
Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 December 2011
Preceded byJoseph Deiss
Succeeded byDidier Burkhalter
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 December 2011
Preceded byRuth Dreifuss
Succeeded byAlain Berset
Personal details
Born (1945-07-08) 8 July 1945 (age 78)
Sion, Switzerland
Political partySocial Democratic Party
SpouseAndré Calmy
Alma materGraduate Institute of International Studies

Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey (born 8 July 1945) is a Swiss politician who served as a Member of the Swiss Federal Council from 2003 to 2011. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SP/PS), she was the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs during her tenure as a Federal Councillor. She was President of the Swiss Confederation twice, in 2007 and 2011.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Calmy-Rey was born in Sion in the canton of Valais on 8 July 1945 to Charles and Adeline Rey. She received her diploma in 1963 in Saint-Maurice and a licence degree in political science at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, in 1968. While studying she married André Calmy; they have two children.


Calmy-Rey established a small enterprise in the book distribution business. From 1981 to 1997 Calmy-Rey served as a representative in the Grand Conseil of the canton of Geneva as a member of the Social Democratic Party (PSS/SPS), and was president of the assembly during 1992–1993. She was president of the Geneva section of the party from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1997. In 1997, Calmy-Rey was elected to the Conseil d'Etat of Geneva. In 2001, she became head of the finance department and president of the Conseil d'Etat of the canton.[2]

She was elected on 4 December 2002 to the Federal Council, heading the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2011. Calmy-Rey is the fourth woman elected to the Federal Council in history. She was also elected Vice-President of Switzerland, a post she held for the calendar year of 2006 and the calendar year of 2010.

Calmy-Rey supports Switzerland joining the European Union and she is an Eminent Member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation. The project SAFFA 2020 is also under her patronage and of the councillors (Bundesrat) Doris Leuthard, Simonetta Sommaruga and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.[3]

Since 2016, Calmy-Rey has been a member of the board of the Global Leadership Foundation (chaired by FW de Klerk), an organisation that works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organisation composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with heads of government on governance-related issues of concern to them.

She is a member of the board Geneva of GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator).[4][5]


2011 Swiss Federal Council

On 1 January 2007, Calmy-Rey became the second female president of the Confederation in history, the first having been her predecessor on the Federal Council, Ruth Dreifuss. She was elected as president on 13 December 2006 by 147 votes. However, by Swiss tradition, it was a foregone conclusion she would be elected. She had been the longest-serving councillor not to have been president, and had served as vice-president for 2006.

As President of the Confederation, she presided over meetings of the Federal Council and carried out certain representative functions that would normally be handled by a head of state in other democracies, (though in Switzerland, the Federal Council as a whole is regarded as the head of state). She was also the highest-ranking official in the Swiss order of precedence, and had the power to act on behalf of the whole Council in emergency situations. However, in most cases she was merely prima inter pares, with no power above and beyond her six colleagues.

She had already handled most official visits abroad since being elected to the Federal Council; the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs traditionally carries out such visits.

Calmy-Rey was chosen as vice president for 2010, serving alongside Doris Leuthard. On 8 December 2010, she was chosen, for the second time, as president for 2011 (by 106 votes out of 189, this being the smallest margin in Swiss history) – the first time two women held the post in succession.

Calmy-Rey speaks to United States President Barack Obama, along with Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers.

Calmy-Rey is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

She announced in September 2011 that she would resign from the government in the following December.[6]

From 2012 to 2013, Calmy-Rey was a member of the High-Level Advisory Council of the President of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Serbia's then foreign minister Vuk Jeremić.[7]

Political views[edit]

Calmy-Rey is a member of the Socialist party of Switzerland and positions herself as pro-European. In February 2014 she stated that Switzerland should join the European Union to be included in the European political agenda on the continent.[8] In 2016, she expressed concerns about the Brexit impact on the European sovereignty, but recommended that Switzerland opened up to Great Britain as the two countries now faced the same configuration towards the European political power.[9]

In February 2020, Calmy-Rey joined around fifty former European prime ministers and foreign ministers in signing an open letter published by British newspaper The Guardian to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, saying it would create an apartheid-like situation in occupied Palestinian territory.[10]

Academic career[edit]

In May 2012 Calmy-Rey was appointed as invited professor et the University of Geneva (Global studies institute).[11][12]

Other assignments[edit]

Micheline Calmy-Rey at the feminist Women's march June 14, 2019 in Geneva.
  • Member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.[13] A report of the panel was published in February 2012.
  • Member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crisis .[14] A report was published in January 2016.
  • Membre of the council of the Global Leadership Foundation (GLF).[15]
  • Membre du conseil de la fondation GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator).[16]


  • 2011: Prix Diaspora for her role in the recognition of Kosovo independence[17]
  • 2012: Medal of honour of Armenia[18]
  • 2012: Docteur honoris causa of the International University in Geneva[19]
  • 2014: Badge of the Order of Friendship in recognition of her contribution in the reinforcing of the friendship and cooperation between Russia and Switzerland.[20][21]
  • 2017: Citizen of honour of the city of Viti, Kosovo[22] · .[23]


According to the BBC, Calmy-Rey was "widely criticised" for putting on a headscarf to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 19 March 2008, even though it was acknowledged that she was simply following proper social protocol.[24] While Socialist MP Liliane Maury Pasquier agreed that the Swiss representant had to respect foreign protocols, this sparked a negative remark from Socialist MP Maria Roth-Bernasconi. In response, Calmy-Rey stated that she was following protocol out of respect, and that had she not done so, she would not have been able to attend the meeting, which has been widely acknowledged.[25]

Calmy-Rey also prompted controversy by attending the signing of a multibillion-dollar natural gas deal of a Swiss energy supply company with Iran.[26] The United States had complained that Switzerland was sending the wrong message when Tehran was subject to UN sanctions. Calmy-Rey pointed out that gas exports were not subject to the UN sanctions. Both the Israeli government and international Jewish groups such as the World Jewish Congress strongly criticised the deal.[27]


  • « The Art and Science of Negotiations : "De–Politicizing and Technicizing Negotiations", in WTO Accessions - The Upper Floors of the Trading System, WTO & Cambridge University Press (in Druck).
  • « Doktrin in globalen Kontext », in Konrad Hummler et Franz Jaeger, Kleinstaat Schweiz – Auslauf- oder Erfolgsmodell?, Zürich, NZZ Libro, 2017
  • Die Schweiz, die ich uns wünsche. Übersetzt aus dem Französischen von Irma Wehrli, mit einem Vorwort von Charles Lewinsky. Nagel & Kimche, Zürich 2014, ISBN 978-3-312-00610-6.
  • La Suisse que je souhaite. Lausanne, Éditions Favre, 2014
  • « The Swiss Model », Horizons, Autumn 2014
  • « Justice sociale et liberté politique selon Calvin : clarification et perspectives », La Vie Protestante, Genève 2010


  1. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Micheline Calmy-Rey" in Women of power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press, ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 406-7
  2. ^ Jensen, Jane S. "Micheline Calmy-Rey" in Women as political leaders: breaking the highest glass ceiling, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-22338-0, p. 56
  3. ^ "Patronat" (in German). 2020.ch. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Calmy-Rey rejoint la fondation pour renforcer le rôle de la Suisse". www.laliberte.ch (in French). Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Désignation de Mme Micheline Calmy-Rey comme membre du Conseil de la fondation GESDA". GE.CH – République et canton de Genève (in French). 29 May 2019. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  6. ^ "President Calmy-Rey to retire from government".
  7. ^ President Jeremić attends a High-level Advisory Panel entitled: “The Future of the United Nations in a Changing World”, United Nations, press release of 25 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Micheline Calmy-Rey explique pourquoi la Suisse devrait intégrer l'UE". www.rts.ch (in French). 2 February 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  9. ^ Laure Lugon (24 June 2016). "Micheline Calmy-Rey: "La Suisse ne doit pas courir à Bruxelles!"". www.letemps.ch. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  10. ^ Grave concern about US plan to resolve Israel-Palestine conflict The Guardian, February 27, 2020.
  11. ^ "Micheline Calmy-Rey professeure invité à l'Université de Genève". Le Temps (in French). 30 April 2012. ISSN 1423-3967. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Micheline Calmy-Rey, professeure invitée à l'Université de Genève - Radio". Play RTS (in French). 29 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Secretary-General Launches High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability to Create New Blueprint for Achieving Low-Carbon Prosperity in Twenty-First Century | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints High-Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crises | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  15. ^ "g-l-f | Micheline Calmy-Rey". www.g-l-f.org. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Calmy-Rey rejoint la fondation pour renforcer le rôle de la Suisse". www.laliberte.ch (in French). Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Les Kosovars de Suisse remercient M. Calmy-Rey" (in French). 11 November 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Micheline Calmy-Rey honorée par l'Arménie". Tribune de Genève (in French). 23 June 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Micheline Calmy-Rey - Global Studies Institute - UNIGE". www.unige.ch (in French). 27 October 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  20. ^ swissinfo.ch, Frédéric Burnand (14 March 2014). "Une Suisse funambule entre Occidentaux et Russes" (in French). Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  21. ^ swissinfo.ch, Frédéric Burnand, Genève. "Une Suisse funambule entre Occidentaux et Russes". SWI swissinfo.ch (in French). Retrieved 27 September 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "L'ex-conseillère fédérale Micheline Calmy-Rey honorée au Kosovo". www.rts.ch (in French). RTS info. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  23. ^ Nefail Maliqi (12 August 2017). "Micheline Calmy-Rey a trouvé "asile" au Kosovo". www.tdg.ch. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Swiss minister sparks veil outcry". BBC News. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  25. ^ Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey sits during a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran
  26. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/recent/media/mcom/single.html?id=17831 Swiss government press release on the natural gas agreement
  27. ^ "Jewish Group Slams Swiss-Iran Gas Deal; U.S. Questions Switzerland's Neutrality". FoxNews (in Dutch). 31 March 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2015.

Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language Wikipedia article and the equivalent French-language Wikipedia article (retrieved 1 April 2006).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
President of Switzerland
Vice President of Switzerland
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Switzerland