The Congress of the Swiss Abroad in the spirit of democracy

Interesting speeches, networking, sharing experiences about life abroad and exploring beautiful and sunny Lugano. That’s how the Congress of the Swiss Abroad from 19 to 21 August 2022 can be summed up in a few words. The two SCCC board members Johann Roduit and Thomas Arn attended the congress in Lugano and share their experiences and insights with us.

Every year in August, the Organization of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) organizes a three-day congress for the Swiss abroad. This congress has become a popular meeting place for all those interested in the international mobility of the Fifth Switzerland. This year the congress took place in beautiful Lugano. During the congress, around 400 participants met fellow Swiss from all over the world, listened to exciting speeches, learned about current events in Switzerland, talked about their own experiences, and met interesting personalities from Swiss business and politics.

The theme of the 98th Congress of the Swiss Abroad was “What are the challenges for our democracy?”. Participants discussed how the unique democratic system of Switzerland can remain relevant to current as well as future national and global challenges such as digitalization, globalization, the Covid 19 pandemic, and possible future pandemics.

Two members of the SCCC Board of Directors Thomas Arn and Johann Roduit are Canadian delegates of the OSA from 2021-2025 and participated in this year’s congress. We took this great opportunity to ask them about their congress experience and their role within the Organization of the Swiss Abroad.


How did you experience participating in the Congress of the Swiss Abroad?

As a frist time participant it was very exciting to attend the congress. It was a good vibe and I really enjoyed the event.

– Thomas Arn

It was a great experience. There are a lot of challenges regarding how Swiss citizens abroad can fully participate in the democratic process. As delegates, we continue to lobby to improve the voting system from abroad, to ensure we can have better banking services, and to strengthen the possibility for Swiss abroad to access the voluntary old-age insurance/invalidity insurance.

– Johann Roduit

What was your main objective in participating in the event?

My main objective was to start understanding the whole organization better and to see how all the parts and pieces fit together (SwissCommunity/Congress/Council/Executive offices etc.)

– Thomas Arn

I am particularly interested in promoting our Swiss cultural heritage abroad. I think our heritage does not stop at the geographical borders of Switzerland. On the contrary, Swiss immigrants have been influential all over the world and have left a lot of artifacts (and even Chalets!)  that should be preserved. This has not been thought of much in Switzerland. But I am thrilled that the theme of next year’s congress will be “Culture”. It will be an opportunity to think deeper about these questions and opportunities. 

– Johann Roduit

What was the highlight of these 3 days for you?

The highlight was certainly meeting the delegates from all over the world – a rich experience based on all these different stories. It renewed my interest in politics and showed me that active participation is important.

– Thomas Arn

It was tremendously enriching to meet with Swiss people from all over the world and to see how we can work together to make the lives of Swiss citizens abroad better. 

– Johann Roduit


Did you have a special task during the event as a delegate?

There was no task assigned to me personally. I wanted to finally personally meet all 5 Canadian delegates who participated as well as many other delegates as possible. There was also time to connect with Media, Swiss Politicians, (National-Ständerat) Team members from the office in Berne….

– Thomas Arn

No special task. Just being a voice for the Swiss living in Western Canada.

– Johann Roduit

You are both OSA delegates from 2021-2025. What does this role entail?

The mission of the OSA Canada is based on the below actions to take:

  • Inform: Keeping Swiss Abroad informed and in touch with current affairs and politics in Switzerland.
  • Network: Offering a wide range of services to strengthen the bond among Swiss Abroad as well as between the Swiss public and its expatriate community.
  • Represent: Supporting and defending the interests of Swiss citizens living abroad before the Swiss authorities and public.
  • Advise: Offering free, up-to-date advice on issues relating to emigration, living abroad and returning to Switzerland.

Read more about the different priorities of OSA Canada and projects here.

What would you like to accomplish as a delegate?

I would like to stay in touch with the different delegates, liase with the Swiss in Canada who want to stay in touch and support them if there are questions/concerns/ideas and connect them with the proper channels. Furthermore I want to work on the mission and the Canadian priorities as per above to move the needle in the right direction.

– Thomas Arn

I would like to ensure that “official” Switzerland starts to think about what it means to protect and promote our Swiss cultural heritage that is found outside the geographical borders of our country. 

– Johann Roduit



Thank you Thomas and Johann for taking the time to give us some insights into your role within the Organization of the Swiss Abroad and this year’s congress.


The 99th Congress of the Swiss Abroad 2023 will be held in St. Gallen from 18 to 20 August 2023.



Pictures: © 2022
Mission text:
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