Swiss Cooperation Programme

Following a decade of political and economic opening, the military coup in February 2021 has plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social, economic, and humanitarian crisis. In various parts of the country, armed resistance troops are fighting an asymmetric conflict against the military. The escalating violence exacerbates existing conflicts and has had a catastrophic impact on the civilian population: it has led to massive human rights violations and large-scale internal displacement across the country. Household income has significantly decreased due to increased unemployment, inflation, and the depreciation of the national currency. The position of women in the labour market has been further eroded.

As a consequence, poverty across the country has more than doubled since the coup. Food insecurity has increased, with roughly a quarter of the population facing acute food insecurity in 2023. The civic space has drastically narrowed, with limited media freedom, restricted rights to peaceful assembly, and deliberate legal and operational constraints on opposition parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Unsustainable and unregulated exploitation of natural resources and ecosystems is increasingly contributing to environmental degradation. The Rohingya crisis since 2017 remains unresolved, leaving over a million refugees in camps in Bangladesh with no prospects for a safe return to Rakhine State.

The Swiss Cooperation Programme

The Swiss Cooperation Programme combines instruments of development cooperation, humanitarian aid, peacebuilding, and human rights diplomacy to address the complex crisis and needs in the country. The SDC (development cooperation and humanitarian aid) is present with bilateral and multilateral projects, including a direct action. The Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) supports conflict transformation, violence reduction, and establishing pathways to peace. The portfolio is complemented by regional projects, mainly by the SECO and SDC thematic sections (e.g. Water, Food security, and Migration & Forced Displacement). Switzerland’s main partners include UN funds and programmes, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), NGOs (Swiss, local and international), CSOs, ethnic organisations, and the private sector.

The Budget

The budget for the cooperation programme is CHF 29.5 million per year, consisting of CHF 28 million for SDC (development cooperation and humanitarian aid), CHF 1 million for PHRD, and CHF 0.5 million for SECO (in 2024).

Supporter of the peace process

Myanmar is strategically located in South East Asia, is rich in natural resources and has great economic potential. Switzerland aims to contribute to the development and stability of South East Asia, including Myanmar. It remains committed to supporting the people of Myanmar and reducing the effects of the current crisis on the population, to maintain and support their democratic aspirations and to promote a sustainable and inclusive peace that benefits all citizens.

Switzerland maintains dialogue with all parties to the conflict (NUG, military regime, ethnic armed organisations, and other actors) to support their efforts to develop their own processes and pathways to a non-violent and inclusive solution. Its role is recognised and accepted by all major players and the international community. Switzerland has privileged access to some actors thanks to its support to the peace process since 2011 and strong standing in the South East. It is seen as credible, reliable, and flexible, maintaining a long-term perspective on Myanmar. Finally, Switzerland is renowned for its humanitarian tradition and specific thematic expertise, including support to negotiations, federalism and local governance, vocational training and health.

Goals and interventions

Switzerland’s overall goal is to play a role in shaping a more democratic, peaceful, and prosperous society in Myanmar that is inclusive and resilient. It will pursue this goal through three portfolio outcomes: 

Myanmar is facing a deep political, social, economic, and humanitarian crisis following a military coup in 2021. The Swiss Cooperation Programme in Myanmar 2024–27 combines instruments of development cooperation, humanitarian aid, peacebuilding, and human rights diplomacy to address the complex crisis and needs in the country.