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Globalization has not only increased the volume of migration, but also its political, economic and social relevance. States have become aware that an innovative migration policy based on partnership can enhance its positive aspects and combat the negative.
Switzerland is well placed to attest to the positive aspects of migration both as a sending and as a destination country. Over two million migrants came to Switzerland in the years following the second world war, making significant contributions to the country’s economic development. Further back, thousands of Swiss were compelled to leave their homeland for economic reasons. Today around 10% of the Swiss population lives abroad.
Yet, migration constitutes as well a major challenge to states and societies. Every year, millions of people fall victim to people-traffickers and people-smugglers. Many developing countries suffer from the brain drain as well-educated young men and women emigrate, taking their expertise with them. Certain industrialized countries find it difficult to integrate foreigners.
A coherent national migration policy should:
- combine external and internal perspectives
- involve local authorities, the private sector, civil-society institutions and migrant associations in the formulation and implementation of migration policy.
To address this issue effectively in our globalized world, it is necessary to have international instruments, dialogue and cooperation.
- In the context of the international dialogue on migration, Switzerland is active as a member of the steering committee in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and, in addition, holded the Chairmanship for 2011. The GFMD is an informal body to promote discussion and cooperation between states and other players active in the field of migration and development. In addition, it has made a key contribution to the first High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly and to the HLD’s further development. Through these efforts, it has ensured that migration remains a global issue.
- The new concept of migration partnerships, which Switzerland developed, is an innovative and flexible instrument for addressing problems and finding constructive solutions in collaboration with affected countries. Moreover, it enables all involved partners to benefit from the positive aspects of migration.
- Combating human trafficking is a declared objective of the Federal Council. Accordingly, Switzerland has taken appropriate measures both at the domestic and international levels to pursue this objective. For instance, Switzerland makes contact with governments and other players in the home countries of the victims as a means to ensure their protection.
- The aim of Switzerland’s commitment in the context of the recently approved concept on strengthening Protection in the Region approved in 2007 is to provide refugees with effective and rapid protection in their regions of origin and to support first-destination countries in giving such people the protection they need.
Switzerland’s foreign policy in the field of migration
On 16 February 2011, the Federal Council noted the Report on International Co-operation on Migration, approving its contents. The report confirms that the current direction of Switzerland’s foreign policy in the area of migration has proved to be effective and for this reason will be continued. At the same time, in order to enhance the effectiveness of Swiss migration foreign policy, the report envisages greater use of existing instruments in the field of migration, such as migration partnerships, “Protection in the Region”, return assistance, structural assistance and others. These instruments are based on the following three principles:
- Switzerland pursues a comprehensive approach to migration, which means it takes into account the economic, societal and cultural opportunities offered by migration as well as the challenges it presents.
- Switzerland encourages close co-operation in a spirit of partnership between countries of origin, transit and destination, and it takes a balanced view of the interests of all actors concerned.
- Switzerland ensures close co-operation between all the offices of the Federal Administration, in particular the Federal Office for Migration, Human Security Division and the SDC.
The strengthened use of existing instruments is expected to increase both the coherence and efficiency of Switzerland’s foreign policy in the field of migration.