Articles of Association / Statutes

Article 1  Name and Seat

1 Under the name "DIGNITAS – To live with dignity – To die with dignity" exists an idealistic, non-commercial association in line with article 60 et seq. of the Swiss Civil Code (ZGB), with seat in Maur.

2 The Association is neutral in respect of religious and political affiliation.


Article 2  Objects

1 Knowing that

– suicide is the last freedom of humans;

– it is urgently necessary to reduce not only the number of suicides but, even more urgently the much higher number of suicide attempts;

– in order to significantly reduce the number of suicide attempts it is essential to offer an honest, comprehensive and open-outcome counselling option;

– most of the existing organisations which work in suicide prevention generally reject suicide, so that up-front they appear unsuitable for such a counselling option;

– in up to 49 out of 50 cases, trying to end one’s life without expert knowledge leads to failure; often with severe consequences for the individual’s health and with high risks, also for third parties, resulting in a lot of suffering and a serious impact for society;

– the European Court of Human Rights stated that the right to self-determination, protected by article 8 ECHR, includes the right of an individual to decide how and when to end his life;

– due to in part century-old ideological prejudice, so far this freedom exists only incompletely and thus still needs universal implementa-tion;

– making use of this right involves careful consideration, thoughtful ex-changes with others, and help based on experience;

– in many countries a predominant majority of the population is in favour of sensible assistance in dying, a request which is in conflict with legislation dating often from the 19th century; based on several opinion polls such legislation cannot be considered sufficiently democratic legitimate anymore;

– patient’s rights, especially at the end of life, are not always respected; people need to be made aware of these rights, which should be made use of and enforced;

the Association aims to ensure its Beneficiary Members a life with dignity and a death with dignity, also to help further individuals to enforce this human right and to fight for its worldwide implementation.

2 The Association aims to realise this object by:

a) assisting its Beneficiary Members in word and deed, within the limits of the Association’s means, adapted to the individual case, in all instances where the Member’s claim to respect of their dignity, in particular with respect to their human rights and fundamental freedoms in regard of their life and their death, must be considered as jeopardised; and by

b) representing the interests of its Beneficiary Members in regard of the enforcement of their right to self-determination towards the public as well as the authorities at home and abroad.

c) offering relevant advice to everyone who contacts the Association, within the framework of its resources.

3 In regard to the phase at the end of life, the Association offers its Beneficiary Members specifically the following services:

a) during their membership, the Association provides Beneficiary Members with a legally binding advance directive (patient’s living will) which must be observed by medical doctors, hospitals and clinics. Where necessary, the Association assists Beneficiary Members directly through a lawyer in order to enforce the advance directive; and

b) the Association procures Beneficiary Members, who wish a freely-chosen death, access to dignified voluntary death proceedings through expert personnel if on request of the Beneficiary Member his or her unbearable suffering and senseless prolonging of life shall be ended.

4 For these purposes, the Association may also set up or support other organisa-tions which pursue similar objects.

5 The Association neither pursues any purpose of gain nor any self-help-aims.


Article 3  Membership

1 The membership is composed of Active Members, Members of the Advisory Board and Beneficiary Members. The Secretary General will make the final decision about the admission of members to all categories.

2 He or she may refuse admission without stating reasons.

3 Members who have impaired the interests of the Association can be expelled from it on the decision of the Secretary General; his or her decision is final.


Article 4  Rights and Obligations of Members

1 Active Members will benefit from all membership rights in the sense of legal provisions. They are obliged to attend the general meeting as well as to pay the membership fees for Active Members as decided by the general meeting.

2 All other Members do not have a right to vote at the general meeting. They are obliged to pay the membership fees of their membership category decided by the general meeting.

3 All Members are entitled to receive publications of the Association.

4 Members of the Advisory Board are at the disposal of the Association in that they allow the Association to advertise for the Association and its objectives, with reference to their membership. They provide advice to the Secretary General in connection with the patients’ advance directives and voluntary death proceedings and they also provide support to the assistants who accompany individuals in voluntary death proceedings.

5 Assistants of voluntary death proceedings serve the Association and its Beneficiary Members during assessment of a serious request for voluntary death proceedings by acting as an interlocutor, as an intermediary between Beneficiary Member and his or her personal environment (family doctor, next of kin), as well as assistants during the procedure of voluntary death proceedings.

6 Every year, Beneficiary Members decide again on their membership by paying their subscription. They are entitled to an individual patient’s advance directive which contains binding instructions to medical doctors and hospital personnel in the event that the Member's basic vital functions are impaired to such a grave extent that, as far as anyone can judge, an improvement cannot be expected and the condition of that person would suggest death is near. They are also entitled to be accompanied by assistants of voluntary death proceedings of the Association, provided that senseless suffering or unreasonable continuing of life shall be ended through a dignified voluntary death.

7 Members have no personal liability for the Association's obligations.


Article 5  Governing bodies of the Association

1 The Association's supreme governing body is the general meeting of Active Members.

2 The Secretary General acts as managing director.

3 Accounting control is taken care of by auditors. The auditors need not be Members of the Association. Their task may be assigned to a legal entity.


Article 6  General Meeting of Active Members

The General Meeting of Active Members shall be convened at least once every year. This body elects the Secretary General and the Auditors, decides on budget, management and accounting and determines membership fees for all categories of Members.


Article 7  Secretary General

The Secretary General is vested with all powers which are not assigned to other bodies. He or she represents the Association to outside bodies.


Article 8  Auditors

The Auditors verify the accounts and submit a request for their approval to the General Meeting.


Article 9  Funds

1 The financial resources of the Association are composed of contributions of Members, legacies and donations from third parties.

2 Basically, the Members of all categories determine the amount of their yearly membership fee themselves, taking into account their personal circumstances and means; consequently, the amounts adopted by the General Meeting are minimum annual membership fees for the acknowledgement of a membership with the Association.

3 The one-off joining fee and the annual subscription have been set by the General Meeting of 20 December 2002 as follows:
- One-off joining fee CHF 200.–;
- Active Members CHF 200.–;
- Members of the Advisory Board CHF 500.–;
- Beneficiary Members CHF 80.–.

4 Members who join the Association after 30 September of any calendar year, will only pay the admission fee: they are exempt from paying the annual mem-bership fee for the rest of that year.

5 Members who ask for voluntary death proceedings to be prepared by the Association must pay an additional fee of CHF 4,000.–. Members whose voluntary death proceedings are actually carried out must pay an additional fee of CHF 2,500.–; if they ask DIGNITAS to carry out the formalities and steps required with local authorities and civil registry offices, they must pay a further fee of CHF 500.–.

6 Members who live under very modest economic circumstances may be – on a substantiated request, by decision of the Secretary General – completely or partially exempt from the duty to pay the one-off joining fee and the yearly membership fee. This provision also applies to the additional membership contributions.


Article 10  Surpluses

The association invests any surplus in the enhancement of its services, especially the enhancement of measures to prevent risky suicide attempts and the reduction of number of suicides.


Article 11  Revision of the Articles of Association

The present Articles of Association may be revised at any time. Amendment of articles 2, 3, 4 and 9 requires approval by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by the Active Members entitled to vote attending the General Meeting.


Article 12  Appropriation of funds on Dissolution

In case of dissolution of the Association, all remaining assets are to be given to an institution with identical or similar objectives. A return of assets of the association to the Members of the Association is ruled out.



Zurich, 16 May 1998 / 20 December 2002 / 14 December 2004 / 31 May 2007 / 24 October 2007 / 3 June 2011 / 5 December 2012 / 24 June 2015 / 23 March 2018



The original German text of the Articles of Association is the sole governing document.


The Articles of Association as a pdf-document


Latest News






Well Worth Seeing


Response by DIGNITAS
to the Inquiry into End of Life Choices, Parliament
of Western Australia

>> more

A new organisation

My Death, My decision (MDMD) - for a more compassionate approach
to dying in the UK

Campaign Websites

Crowdjustice - A dignified death for Omid

Your Death - Your Choice

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

death: the human experience

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery: death - the human experience

>> more

death: is it your right to choose?

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery: death - is it your right to choose

>> more


Documentaries and
further film contributions

>> more


P.O. Box 17
8127 Forch

Telephone national
043 366 10 70
Telephone international
+41 43 366 10 70
(Mon to Fri, 8:30 - 12:00 / 13:00 - 16:30 hours)

Fax national
043 366 10 79
Fax international
+41 43 366 10 79