Human Security is a key instrument of Swiss foreign policy in Nigeria and concentrates on the security of the individuals, their protection and empowerment. It draws attention to a wide range of challenges interfacing between security, development and human rights and therefore promotes an integrated, coordinated and people-centered approach to advancing peace, security and development.
Since 2011, Nigeria and Switzerland have been holding annual rounds of bilateral human rights dialogues and consultations. Thematic priorities have to date primarily been set on key civil and political rights of mutual interest, enabling constructive exchanges between the two countries on human rights challenges and best practices, both domestically and in the multilateral fora. This dialogue and with the presence of a Human Security Adviser at the Embassy since April 2012, a more intense diplomatic activity and profiling in the field of human security and human rights, both with the Nigerian authorities and the international community, has been enabled.
The human rights dialogues are complemented by technical support, in the form of operational projects carried out in partnership with Nigerian government agencies, parastatals and/or civil society organizations. To date, projects in Nigeria have mainly focused on issues revolving around human rights and policing, access to justice, the provision of legal aid services, business and human rights, and general human rights awareness.
Main Nigerian partners include, among others, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Human Rights Commission, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Prisons Service, State Ministries of Justice, the Legal Aid Council, and a number of civil society organizations.
Peace & Security
Peaceful coexistence of peoples is one of Switzerland’s five main foreign policy objectives. Within the framework of the “Strategic Axes for Switzerland’s Commitment in the Sahel: 2014-2018” – which include northern Nigeria – Switzerland supports conflict transformation processes (prevention, peace processes, facilitation of dialogue) engaged at the political and diplomatic level, as well as with civil society. This is implemented through the provision of technical and methodological competences, financial support, as well as by supporting the strengthening of African capacities based on local expertise and know-how available in the region.
In view of the recurrence and strong sub-regional repercussions of certain conflicts, the key objective is to contribute towards finding sustainable and socially fair solutions, through dialogue rather than force. In addition, Switzerland undertakes a number of programs in the field related to the nexus between religion, politics, and conflict, and is actively engaged in the prevention of violent extremism, inter alia with an important financial contribution to the « Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund » (www.gcerf.org). These activities require a diversified and complementary collaboration with governments, civil society and international organizations, as well as support to Nigerian and West African networks of peace actors.
Switzerland’s bilateral engagement in Nigeria in the field of peace and security focuses first and foremost on the country’s North East / Lake Chad Basin area. A Political Adviser based in Abuja is responsible for overall the implementation of the program.
Human Security in ECOWAS
Being the Swiss Representation accredited to the ECOWAS Commission, the Embassy actively follows developments in the West Africa sub-region from a political, peace and security perspective.
This also translates into technical collaborations with the ECOWAS Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Department (PAPS), with particular support to the strengthening of civilian capacities in the management of conflicts and peace support operations in West Africa. Since 2010, Switzerland’s engagement has indeed contributed to the development of the Civilian Component of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) - one of five regional forces conceived under the African Peace and Security Architecture - to meet the needs of integrated, multidimensional, modern Peace Support Operations.
In addition, together with the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, the Embassy has since August 2012 been co-chairing the Peace & Security Thematic Group. The group acts as the prime institutional coordination mechanism between the ECOWAS Commission and Development Partners in the field of peace and security, putting the Embassy at the center of efforts to foster a conducive and sustainable partnership between ECOWAS and its donors.
The Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency also provides substantial support to ECOWAS, particularly in the fields of migration and agriculture, though these programs are managed directly by the Swiss Cooperation Bureaus in Cotonou and Bamako respectively.