Foraus - Think Tank
A Catalyst for Ideas

Bridging the Gap between Academia and Politics

Young academics come up with new ideas, not only to contribute to their fields of expertise, but to make recommendations on Swiss policies.

They live in Switzerland and want to help shape this country and make an impact on its future.

The project aims at enabling young researchers to put their ideas into words and pictures, so that they reach the public and initiate an open dialogue: leaving the ivory tower and engaging in the political debate about Switzerland’s – and their own – future.


Think Tank Foraus

Young foreign policy enthusiasts from all over Switzerland are invited to join a think tank at foraus, the Swiss Forum on Foreign Policy.

In this context, they may present their independent recommendations on Swiss foreign policies and expose themselves to a critical scholarly discourse.

Various topics will be put out for tender. People who are interested apply individually or as a pair by submitting a proposal that presents their approach.

A jury will then select the most interesting ideas and invite the authors to join a two-day think tank.

Think tank participants will write a text that promotes their recommendations and is suitable for publishing.

foraus will publish the papers and will try to initiate a public debate through several traditional and new media.

Thematic Priorities

During the next two years, four think tanks about the following topics are going to take place: migration, the relations between Switzerland and Europe, international law and development policies.

foraus aims at reaching young and committed thinkers who want to make a difference.

It offers them a platform and encourages them to use their knowledge for the development of specific recommendations for policy-makers and the broad public.

Think Tank 2017 :
Entering Unknown Territory –
Swiss Migration Policies in the 21st Century

The association foraus organized so-called PolitTables in all Swiss language regions on the subject of immigration. They aimed at bringing together as many locals and immigrants as possible, in order to constructively discuss about the immigration country Switzerland. The immigrants told their very personal immigration stories including the experiences they made in their countries of origin and in Switzerland. .

In addition, foraus consulted local and international experts and asked for their opinions about the immigration country Switzerland.

An online platform was established in order to crowdsource ideas to help shape the immigration country Switzerland. Hundreds of proposals were submitted and a selection of ideas was discussed with policy makers in a large marketplace of ideas. Hence, the way for putting into practice the best ideas was prepared. .

Finally, the following sources were compiled and turned into a book about Swiss migration policies in the 21st century titled "Neuland - Schweizer Migrationspolitik im 21. Jahrhundert". It was edited by Philipp Lutz, Senior Policy Fellow Migration at foraus, and published in 2017 by NZZ Libro.

The book includes the following interesting contributions::

  • Nicola Forster, Johan Rochel
    Aufbruch ins Neuland (Entering New Territory)
  • Martina von Arx, Stefan Egli, Philipp Lutz, Johann Menet
    Die Migration und wir (Immigration and Us)
  • Heike Scholten, Fabienne Tissot
    Thesen zum Migrationsland Schweiz(Theses on the Immigration Country Switzerland)
  • David Kaufmann, Philipp Lutz
    Vision Migrationsland Schweiz (Vision: Immigration Country Switzerland)
  • Stefan Egli, Philipp Lutz, Stefan Schlegel
    Regulierte Offenheit (Regulated Openness)
  • Jonas Nakonz
    Wie weiter? Zivilgesellschaftliche Impulse für die Migrationspolitik (What's Next? Civil-Social Impulses for Immigration Policies)

The authors

  • Martina von Arx
    Project Leader at the National Students‘ Union of Switzerland, foraus Member
  • Stefan Egli
    Junior Policy Fellow Immigration at foraus
  • Nicola Forster
    foraus Founder and President
  • David Kaufmann
    Post-Doc at the Center of Competence for Public Management at the University of Bern, foraus Member
  • Philipp Lutz
    Senior Policy Fellow Immigration at foraus, PHD student at the University of Bern
  • Joanna Menet
    PHD student at the University of Neuchatel, foraus Member
  • Jonas Nakonz
    PProject Leader Immigration at foraus
  • Johan Rochel
    Vice President at foraus, Post-Doc SFNS
  • Stefan Schlegel
    foraus Founding Member, Post-Doc at the Max-Planck-Institute at the University of Göttingen
  • Heike Scholten
    Political and Communications Consultant, foraus Board Member
  • Fabienne Tissot
    Linguist and Project Leader

Think Tank 2017:
International Humanitarian Law 2.0

In 2016, foraus collected ideas from young scientists on the subject of international humanitarian law. The authors gathered on two weekends to discuss and develop their ideas together with experts.

foraus was supported by Professor Marco Sassoli, Director of the Department of International Law and International Organization at the University of Geneva, Dr. Niklaus Stüchler, Director of the Section for International Humanitarian Law at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Professor Daniel Thürer, Professor emeritus for Humanitarian Law at the University of Zurich, and others.

In September 2017, foraus published the four most promising papers that had resulted from the Think Tank 2017 "International Humanitarian Law 2.0" and presented them to the public during a media conference in Geneva:

  • Nina Burri
    Swiss Initiative for the Protection of News Providers Covering Armed Conflicts
  • Ryan Humbert
    An Imperfect but Pragmatic Law: Incentivizing War Criminals?
  • Thomas Kuhn
    Rules an Realities: Reducing the Discrepancies with Regard to International Humanitarian Law
  • Melanie Sauter
    Not a Target: Ensurig the Protection of Aid Workers

The foraus jury bestowed the award for the best paper to Melanie Sauter, PhD student at the European University Institute in Florence.

In her paper, Melanie Sauter presents convincing arguments for ensuring the legal protection of humanitarian aid workers, such as ICRC staff, in conflict-torn countries.

She suggests an according addition to the conventions establishing the standard of the international law of war.

Finally, she asks the Swiss Federal Council to take the initiative together with the ICRC and the UN institutions.

On January 7, 2018, Melanie Sauter published her paper titled "Humanitäre Helfer verdienen den Schutz des Völkerrechts" in the Swiss quality newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

The Hirschmann Foundation is funding the project Think Tank.


The project is conducted by foraus and aims at impacting the public debate on Swiss foreign policies.

It relies on a network of research, public services, diplomacy, and economy to reach its goal and regularly publishes working papers, analyses, and blogs.

The Hirschmann Foundation funds the project with an amount of CHF 60,000 (2016 to 2018).