On 14 October 2020 the Federal Council adopted a specific strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA Strategy) for the 2021–24 period. It identifies five thematic priorities: peace, security and human rights; migration and protection of people in need; sustainable development; economic affairs, finance, science; and digitalisation and new technologies.
These priorities are weighted differently across the various regions and countries. Switzerland's three priority thematic areas for the Middle East region are armed or political conflicts, economic development and governance. Switzerland is also addressing the needs of young people by promoting the development of vocational training, thus facilitating access to the labour market.
Switzerland’s focus in Iraq
The MENA Strategy identifies three focus areas for Iraq:
1. Peace, security and human rights
Switzerland's priorities are promoting dialogue, dealing with the past, the rule of law and human rights.
2. Migration and protection of people in need
The return and reintegration of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected is at the forefront of concerns. In the area of migration, bilateral relations with Iraq need to be further developed and formalised. Switzerland seeks to ensure that the basic needs of internally displaced persons are met.
Switzerland is carrying out humanitarian aid in Iraq within the framework of the 2019–22 Swiss cooperation programme for the Middle East. The programme's overall goal is to help protect and empower conflict-affected and vulnerable people, save and rebuild lives, reduce fragility, prevent and transform violent conflicts and generate development prospects, promote good governance, and protect and promote human rights, the rights of refugees and respect for international humanitarian law. To achieve these objectives, Swiss humanitarian aid in Iraq focuses on two areas of intervention: 1) protection and 2) water, sanitation and hygiene.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
3. Sustainable development
Switzerland is engaging in active dialogue with the Iraqi government with a view to improving economic conditions.