Switzerland's foreign policy on migration: coherence for development

Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in Sri Lanka.
Switzerland's migration partnership with Sri Lanka aims to strengthen human rights and creates prospects for young local generations by providing vocational skills development. ©FDJP

Migration is a complex phenomenon, which is why an effective foreign policy on migration deploys a range of different tools. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is part of the interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration and uses its experience to help meet Switzerland's foreign policy objectives on migration. It takes part in implementing migration partnerships through programmes it has developed with the involved countries. The SDC is committed to better migration management which builds on the economic, social and cultural opportunities arising from migration, and alleviates the associated suffering.

The SDC's focus

Managing migration effectively requires a variety of actors to work together in order to meet the diverse challenges involved. That is why Switzerland has for many years taken a whole-of-government approach in its migration policy (interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration or ICM structure).

The SDC's role in the ICM structure is to focus in particular on the link between migration and development, and on the SDC's operational experience.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration

The interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration (ICM structure), which was created by the Federal Council in February 2011, brings together key units from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). The structure ensures that activities related to Switzerland's foreign policy on migration are coordinated both at the strategic and operational level.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration, SEM

Ensuring a common approach

The SDC works to ensure that its field experience and the international dialogue on migration are reflected in Switzerland's national debate on migration. It also supports reinforcing the coherence between migration policy and development policy, a principle which it implements in its own programmes.

Migration partnerships

In addition, the SDC contributes to the implementation of migration partnerships by developing programmes in Switzerland's partner countries. Such programmes have existed for more than ten years in Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.

Migration partnerships help strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of Switzerland's foreign policy on migration. They also facilitate constructive approaches to the challenges of migration, as well as how to exploit the opportunities it affords.

Background

Global migration has changed considerably in recent years. In fact, it has been diversified and globalised by increased mobility and access to information and the media. Although the underlying causes of migration – poverty, war, human rights violations, economic crises and climate change – remain basically unchanged, the scale and global implications of migration have made it more complex. This situation gives Switzerland new opportunities but also presents it with new challenges.

In response, Switzerland's foreign policy on migration is based on three basic principles:

  • A global approach to migration:
    migration is a global phenomenon that creates both risks and opportunities.
  • A partnership approach:
    the risks and opportunities generated by migration apply to the countries of origin, transit and destination.
  • A whole-of-government approach:
    in the area of migration, coherent action between the different departments of the Federal Administration is required.

Against this backdrop, Swiss development cooperation has done much to help address global migration. In the short term, Switzerland's development cooperation activities can contribute to mitigate the causes of forced displacement. In the medium term, its efforts in this area contribute to an increasingly regular and safe migration, as well as to improving the integration of forcibly displaced people in host countries in their region of origin. In the long term, Swiss development cooperation can contribute to the causes of irregular migration in a sustainable way, providing local people with prospects in their own countries and fighting the root causes of displacement through prevention work and strengthening governance in partner countries.

Implementation in Africa

The Horn of Africa is one of the world's regions with the highest levels of displacement. Switzerland has been working to protect refugees in the region for more than 20 years. It set up a strategic partnership with the only regional organisation in the Horn of Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). IGAD covers eight countries with a combined population of more than 280 million people.

Switzerland's support is both financial and technical (via a seconded expert) as well as political, and enables the eight countries in the region to improve their national and regional management of migration. It strengthens the countries' response to displacement caused by climate change-related disasters and facilitates mobility for migrants in the region by giving them employment prospects in the region. A protected migrant with a job can make a positive contribution to the development of their family, community, host country and country of origin.  

This strategic partnership is the first initiative co-financed by the three main actors in the Federal Administration working in the area of migration – the SDC, the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). It allows Switzerland to conduct a dialogue on migration with the eight countries in the Horn of Africa, which also takes into account Switzerland's foreign and domestic policy interests.

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 32

Kenya: Empowering refugees and host communities in Dadaab through market-led solutions (EMPOWER)

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

The project envisages to unlock the potential of displacement-affected communities (DACs) by providing access to capital, skills development, market opportunities and entrepreneur-friendly policies. The project aims to deliver on long-term economic growth, self-reliance and decreased dependency of DACs on aid. This sustainable approach offers a pathway out of poverty and towards thriving entrepreneurial livelihoods in Kenya.


Protection and emergency care for vulnerable and unaccompanied minors

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2025

The number of migrants transiting through Bosnia and Herzegovina remains high with more than 10% of them being unaccompanied minors in need of essential care and special protection due to their vulnerabilities. As the state system is not yet able to fully address their needs, assistance from external actors remains crucial to provide the much-needed support to this vulnerable group of migrants and to safeguard their rights.


Strengthened and Informative Migration Systems (SIMS) Phase II

01.04.2024 - 31.03.2029

Switzerland is interested in ensuring that international migration is regular, secure, respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The project will institutionalise well tested awareness mechanisms on the perils of irregular migration and enhance further public and private capacities to deliver services to potential migrants. The intervention contributes to Switzerland’s dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at national and global levels.


REG: Core Contribution to the RCC

15.10.2023 - 31.12.2026

The Regional Cooperation Council was officially launched in 2008 as the successor to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The Berlin Process in 2014 gave a new impetus to the regional cooperation and positioned the Council as a medium for communication between the Western Balkan and the EU. It represents an important tool for fostering the stability in the region by bringing together 46 countries, international organisations and banks, mainly from the EU, South East Europe and Western Balkans. 


Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) – Country-based Pooled Fund (CBPF)

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

The Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) is part of multilateral contributions for a Country based Pooled Fund (CBPF) that mobilizes and channels resources to humanitarian partners to respond to the humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The Fund operates within the parameters of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), with the objective of expanding the delivery of humanitarian assistance by focusing on critical priorities and needs.


IDSF - Int. Displacement Solutions Fund

01.09.2023 - 31.07.2028

By the end of 2022, 71.1 million people were living in internal displacement worldwide, a 20 per cent increase in a year and the highest number ever recorded (IDMC 2023). Switzerland is actively supporting the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s Action Agenda on solutions to internal displacement with its different instruments. Supporting the newly established Internal Displacement Solutions Fund2 (IDSF) represents a game-changer in supporting joint UN country level solutions to internal displacement. 


MiRiDew - Migrant Rights and Decent Work

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2026

Remittances sent home by over 4 million migrant workers have significantly contributed to the economic development of Nepal. The proposed project will enhance the capacities of the Government of Nepal and strengthen mechanisms to better protect the rights of workers abroad. There will be a special focus on women’s need and the adverse effects of climate change exacerbating the vulnerability of migrants. The project capitalises on Switzerland’s longstanding engagement on labour migration in Nepal.


Global solutions for migration-related challenges

01.06.2023 - 31.12.2026

Switzerland has a strong interest in multilateral migration processes that are inclusive and that take into account local actors, in particular migrant (women) voices, to foster an enabling environment for migrants to effectively contribute to sustainable development. Switzerland supports multi-stakeholder involvement in global processes on migration and pilots innovative, locally-led solutions that are brought to the global level.


Ashshash – for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.06.2023 - 31.05.2027

Switzerland has an interest in ensuring that international migration is regular, secure, and respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The programme will support men and women who have escaped trafficking to reintegrate into society, raise awareness on the perils of irregular migration and improve public and private capacities to deliver services to victims of trafficking. The intervention contributes to Switzerland’s political dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at the global level.


Réinsertion des détenu.e.s en Algérie

01.04.2023 - 31.12.2026

Le projet « Réinsertion des détenu.e.s en Algérie » contribue à la promotion de la réinsertion des détenu.e.s les plus vulnérables dans le tissu social algérien, dans un but déclaré de renforcer la cohésion sociale, une priorité pour le gouvernement. Le projet propose un accompagnement à la Direction Générale de l’Administration Pénitentiaire et de la Réinsertion (DGAPR) pour la modernisation et l’optimisation de la prise en charge et de la formation des détenu.e.s, dans le but de faciliter leur réinsertion sociale.


Support to the Programme of Work and Budget of the OECD Development Center 2023 - 2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

The Development Center (DEV) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a policy-oriented institution which conducts studies and provides platforms for dialogues and knowledge sharing between OECD and non OECD countries. Switzerland’s contribution to DEV is an investment towards sustainable policy development and reforms as the expertise provided by the DEV brings developing countries closer to relevant OECD standards.


Program Contribution for Fondation Terre des hommes 2023-2024

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

The program of the Terre des hommes Foundation (TdhF) aims to sustainably reduce child mortality and morbidity and to secure access to health, sanitation and clean water for mothers and children (0-18 years) in severe poverty. Children in contexts of migration, conflict and disasters, and child victims of violence are better protected. International standards in child-friendly justice are promoted. Humanitarian interventions in fragile contexts, combined with poverty reduction and sustainable development are promoted through innovative work with children and youths.

Object 1 – 12 of 32