This week, Aung San Suu Kyi, current Burmese political opposition party member and former political prisoner, will be visiting Switzerland in order to speak at the International Labour Organization in Geneva.
It will be the first speech that she has given in Europe in over twenty-four years. In fact the last time she spoke here, the Berlin Wall was still standing over an ideologically divided continent.
Although much has changed since then - the wall has fallen and Europe is no longer divided - the problem of immigration, both legal and illegal, and the granting of political asylum are still very much topics of debate, especially here in Switzerland, giving rise to other related difficulties.
In addition to her stop in Geneva, Suu Kyi will also be visiting other European cities on her trip, including London, Dublin and Oslo, where she will finally be able to personally accept the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to her in 1991.
Her story is well known throughout the world: Placed under house-arrest by the Burmese government for nearly 15 years for her views on human rights, she became a symbol of non-violent resistance and a supporter of democratic change.
Although she was held captive in her own home, she in essence became an asylum-seeker on the world stage, a political refugee in the hearts and minds of international public opinion.
As a former political prisoner, the timing of Suu Kyi’s visit to Europe ironically coincides with the Swiss government’s own deliberations on how to solve Switzerland’s growing problem with asylum-seekers.
While Suu Kyi will be dining with the Swiss president, the Swiss House of Representatives will be debating on whether or not current laws regarding the processing and housing of asylum-seekers should be tightened.
Ideas range from cutting social services to a bare minimum - some would argue to an amount that is well below the subsistence level - to placing law-breaking individuals into federally-run internment camps.
Article 12 of the Swiss Constitution grants the “right to assistance when in need”: “Persons in need and unable to provide for themselves have the right to assistance and care, and to the financial means required for a decent standard of living.”
Will the new laws enacted by the Swiss government affect future Nobel Peace Prize winners of this world, people, who, like Suu Kyi, struggle for human rights and democratic principles in their own countries? As is the case with nearly everything, only time will tell.