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The Swiss Influence in the International Telecommunication Union



Richeri G.


Balbi G.


Calvo S.



The main aim of the project is to investigate how and to what degree the Swiss Confederation influenced the decision-making mechanisms of the Telegraph Union, focusing above all on the international regulation and standardization of telegraph and telephone communications between 1865, the year in which the Telegraph Union was founded, and the outbreak of the First World War. The project aims to answer the following questions: 1. Does the fact that Switzerland directly managed the permanent organ give it the means to control the decisions taken by the Union?2. Did the presumed control exercised by Switzerland also affect the way the international network developed technically? If so, how?3. How was this presumed hegemonic role played by the Swiss Confederation in telecommunications seen by the other European countries? 4. Which pressure groups or lobbies did the Swiss people who guided the International Bureau answer to (international economic groups, Swiss government, local businesses)?The answers to these questions may contribute to finding answers to other more general questions such as:1. Can the Telegraph Union be considered one of the first institutions to promote a sort of multilateralism and European integration? If so, how did it influence these processes which would become a reality only after the Second World War? 2. Which long-term characteristics of the "Swiss way of government" can be found in the management of the Bureau International?3. What lay behind Switzerland´s determination to have the headquarters of international organizations in its territory? What logics (industrial, economic, political-social, or other) drove it in particular to fight for the management of the Bureau International, permanent organ of the first international organization?Through study of a corpus of wholly unpublished data (mainly comprising communications and exchanges of opinion between various European Administrations and the permanent organ of the Union), we intend to shed light on some still little known aspects of the country´s political and social history, with special reference to the international role of the Confederation.

Additional information

Start date
End date
24 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Project Funding / Humanities and social sciences (Division I)