Giuseppe Motta

This article is about the Swiss politician. For the Italian pilot, see Giuseppe Motta (aviator).
Giuseppe Motta

Motta circa 1915
President of the League of Nations
In office
Preceded by Cosme de la Torriente
Succeeded by Raoul Dandurand
Personal details
Born (1871-12-29)29 December 1871
Airolo, Switzerland
Died 23 January 1940(1940-01-23) (aged 68)
Nationality Switzerland
Occupation Politician
Known for Member of the Swiss Federal Council (1911-1940)

Giuseppe Motta (29 December 1871 – 23 January 1940) was a Swiss politician. He was a member of the Swiss Federal Council (1911-1940) and President of the League of Nations (1924-1925).


He was born on 29 December 1871.

He was elected to the Federal Council of Switzerland on 14 December 1911. He was affiliated with the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland.

While in office he held the following departments:

He was President of the Confederation five times, in 1915, 1920, 1927, 1932 and 1937.

Giuseppe Motta has with 28 years in the Federal Council the third longest tenure to date.

Motta was involved with the Federal Council Felix Calonder in Switzerland's accession to the League of Nations. On 16 May 1920 Switzerland joined the League of Nations. He presided in 1924 the League of Nations Assembly. He was one of the most outspoken advocates of admission of Germany. In the interwar period, he pleaded for a partial departure from Swiss neutrality principle, but spoke out from 1938 in the face of the looming Second World War again for its strict observance.[1]

The Catholic-conservative foreign minister was a staunch opponent of Stalinism. At his suggestion fought Switzerland as one of the few states against acceptation of the Stalin's Soviet Union to the League of Nations.[2]

In 1924 he became the President of the League of Nations.

He died in office on 23 January 1940.


Among others, via Giuseppe Motta in Lugano, Chiasso, Minusio and Massagno, Piazza Giuseppe Motta in Ascona and Avenue Giuseppe-Motta in Geneva are named for him.

His portrait was painted twice in the late 1930s by the Swiss-born American - and also Ticinese-born - artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862-1947). The first, a large three-quarter portrait, dated 1938, hangs in the Archivio Cantonale in Bellinzona; the artist was sent a photograph by Motta at the end of 1937, and then the artist travelled to Berne in the summer of 1938 to work on the portrait from life. The second portrait, half-length seated at a desk and dated 1939, in the Haus Muller-Lombardi in Hospental, Switzerland as part of the Adolfo Muller-Ury Stiftung. This was exhibited at the artist's last exhibition at French and Co, New York in the Spring of 1947 and returned to Switzerland after his death in July that year.

Annually since 2004 by the Geneva Institute for Democracy and Development is presented the Giuseppe Motta Medal to the people from any country or region of the world for exceptional achievement in the promotion of peace and democracy, human rights and sustainable development.[3]


  1. Die kleine Enzyklopädie, Encyclios-Verlag, Zürich, 1950, Band 2, Seite 204
  2. Dietrich Dreyer: Schweizer Kreuz und Sowjetstern, 1989
  3. Giuseppe Motta Medal Website
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Political offices
Preceded by
Josef Anton Schobinger
Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Succeeded by
Enrico Celio
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