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175th Anniversary of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848

175th Anniversary of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848

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To mark the 175th anniversary of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848, Kaufmann Rüedi Attorneys at Law organized two events in the canton of Lucerne together with the University of Lucerne, the Obwalden Institute for Justice Research and the International Bundesbrief Society. The first took place on November 16, 2023 at the University of Lucerne. There was an exhibition of the original German version of the U.S. Articles of Confederation of 1778, the first American constitution, with a keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Andreas Kley and a panel discussion. There are interesting connections between the U.S. Articles of Confederation, with which the American colonies entered into a "firm league of friendship" (Article 3), and the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848, by which the peoples of the then twenty-two sovereign cantons united to form a federation (Article 1). In his keynote speech, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Andreas Kley took a closer look at these ideas and constitutional-historical connections. In addition to the historical aspect, there was also a look into the future in which young researchers and students discussed the political demand for an expansion of the existing catalog of fundamental rights and the establishment of new fundamental rights.

The festivities to mark the 175th anniversary of the Swiss Federal Constitution concluded with a reception and exhibition on 27.11.2023 at the Federal Court in Lucerne. Cantonal Councillor Dr. Armin Hartmann and Federal Judge Marcel Maillard spoke as guest of honor. In addition, selected students from the University of Lucerne and pupils from the Alpenquai cantonal high school presented their digital exhibition project at the Federal Supreme Court. An important aim of the celebrations was to host open discussions with the younger generation on such topics as freedom, democracy and personal responsibility. Anna, a student at the Alpenquai cantonal high school, took part in the digital project, explaining that "on an anniversary, people like to look back into the past, but I also want to look forward." University of Lucerne students Yasmin and Georgina also shared their enthusiasm. In order to keep the tradition alive they have already set their smartphone timers for 2047 so that they can start planning the celebrations in 2048 for the 200th anniversary of the Swiss Federal Constitution!

This recent celebration had its roots in another constitutional exchange that occurred in 2006 when the original Swiss Federal Charter (the Bundesbrief) travelled to Philadelphia. The visit was part of the "Sister Republics" exhibition, an event organized by Swiss Roots together with the Swiss Embassy in Washington. The initiative was launched to celebrate the approximately 1 million Americans with Swiss roots. It is estimated that more than 95,000 visitors saw the “Bundesbrief” at the National Constitution Center in less than a month. It was a nice addition to the recent 175th anniversary celebrations that the former Swiss Ambassador to the United States in 2006, Urs Ziswiler, was also in attendance at the events at the Federal Court in Lucerne in 2023.

November 27, 2023 - Reception at the Federal Court of Lucerne

November 16, 2023 - Exhibition at the University of Lucerne

Exhibition partner: Hans Erni Museum