Migration partnerships

Switzerland has created migration partnerships in order to find constructive solutions to the challenges of migration as well as exploit the opportunities it offers. The SDC is one of the players within the federal administration involved in their implementation. 

Recent years have seen a marked change in international migration. As a result of increased mobility and better access to information and means of communication, migration has become more diversified and globalised. Even if the causes of migration - poverty, wars, violations of human rights, economic crises and climate change - have remained fundamentally unchanged, the extent of the causes and how they interlink has led to a much greater degree of complexity of the phenomenon. In order to meet the challenges posed by this development, Switzerland has created an innovative instrument: migration partnerships.

Nowadays, these partnerships enable Switzerland to adopt a comprehensive approach to migration and to take into account its own interests, those of the partner country and those of the migrants themselves (a "win-win-win" approach). The partnerships create a platform for constructive solutions to the challenges of migration and ways to exploit the opportunities it creates as well as benefit from synergies between the different players involved in migration policy.

Anchored in federal law

The principle of migration partnerships is anchored in article 100 of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals, which gives the Federal Council the task of encouraging bilateral and multilateral partnerships with other States in the area of migration.

A migration partnership is a long-term process and should remain in place as long as it benefits the partner states. It can be formalised by means of a treaty (a binding agreement under international law) or a memorandum of understanding (a non-binding agreement under international law or declaration of intent).

Flexible and adapted to the partner country

A migration partnership reflects the specific interests of the states involved. Therefore, its content is flexible and will vary from one country to the next. It includes projects and programmes linked in practice to emigration and immigration. These might fall under the following areas:

  • Promotion of voluntary return and reintegration
  • Strengthening of state structures in the country of origin (e.g. support to immigration authorities)
  • Prevention of irregular migration (e.g. through information campaigns about the opportunities and risks)
  • Legal migration (e.g. visa, as well as education and professional development policies)
  • Support in the fight against human trafficking
  • Migration and development (increasing the profitability of fund transfers from migrants to their countries of origin and the diaspora's capacity to contribute to the development of its country of origin).
  • Integration of migrants in the host country

The comprehensive approach adopted by the migration partnership can also be extended to other aspects of foreign policy linked to migration, such as civilian peace-building, defence of human rights and conventions of social security.

Whole-of-government approach

Through establishing migration partnerships, Switzerland seeks to ensure a coherent foreign migration policy through an interdepartmental approach, also known as a "whole-of-government approach". This approach takes into consideration the interests of all those involved and promotes the positive aspects of migration whilst also proposing solutions to the challenges it poses.

The principal actors of migration partnerships are the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), the Federal Department of Justice and Police (DFJP), the Human Security Division (HSD) of the FDFA, and the SDC. Other partners both within the Federal Administration, e.g. SECO, and outside it are participating or can participate in their concrete implementation.

External evaluation

An external evaluation has been carried out with the aim of making an independent assessment of this instrument. The overall result with regard to the impact and added-value of migration partnerships is positive. The findings of the external evaluation confirm that migration partnerships are an appropriate instrument to intensify cooperation between countries of origin and transit through a balanced consideration of the interests of all parties.