In Afghanistan Switzerland supports particularly disadvantaged people and seeks to bolster the country's transformation process, thereby contributing to positive changes in society and towards a sustainable peace process. To this end it strengthens institutions at sub-national level, contributes to good governance and respect for human rights and advocates in particular for women and children. Furthermore, Switzerland promotes inclusive, sustainable socio-economic development.
Afghanistan has undergone significant changes and achieved considerable development gains in the last 15 years. The Afghan state is built on a Constitution which includes sound governance principles and guarantees universal human rights. Electoral laws and institutions, an active civil society and a vibrant media scene all contribute to an Afghanistan where people have a voice and enshrined rights. The country has also seen considerable improvements in infrastructure and the delivery of basic services such as education and health.
Following the termination of the international military mission in 2014, Afghanistan finds itself at a critical juncture. The first democratic transition of power has initiated what is expected to be a “decade of transformation” for the country towards realizing self-reliance. However, permanent instability and deteriorating violent conflict continue affecting civilian life and human rights achievements while undermining any prospects of political stabilization and economic growth. In this context, Afghanistan is expected to remain highly dependent on foreign aid.
Switzerland in Afghanistan
Cooperation between Afghanistan and Switzerland did not just start in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. In the early seventies, the SDC had already sent specialists to northern Afghanistan to teach farmers how to produce cheese. At the same time, other Swiss specialists were involved in water projects. After the invasion by Soviet troops in 1979, however, the SDC withdrew from Afghanistan, and resumed its work from its base in Pakistan.
During the eighties and nineties, Switzerland provided humanitarian aid assistance to mainly internally displaced persons and Afghans refugees in the country as well as in Pakistan and Iran through multilateral channels such as UNHCR, WFP and ICRC. Starting in 1997, Switzerland actively participated in the Afghanistan Support Group (ASG), a donor aid coordination mechanism that existed until 2001.
In 2002, the Government of Switzerland established the Cooperation Office in Kabul to support the stabilization and reconstruction of the war-torn country. Today, the Swiss Cooperation Office is running and supervising a development and humanitarian aid programme with an annual turnover of up to 26 million Swiss francs (2017). Switzerland’s commitment in Afghanistan is guided by the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Afghanistan 2015-2018. (PDF, Number of pages 32, 2.6 MB)