Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Rwanda were for many years dominated by development cooperation. Today the two countries intend to broaden and intensify this relationship.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Rwanda
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Swiss diplomacy in Rwanda is focused on active cooperation in development matters and at the multilateral level. For the future, the two countries aim to establish a regular exchange on all political issues of mutual interest.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Rwanda can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Rwanda is part of the 'Great Lakes' strategy, which also includes Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through the coordinated use of three foreign policy instruments – development cooperation, the promotion of peace and human rights, and humanitarian aid – Switzerland seeks to optimise its response to the complex challenges the region faces in regard to politics, security, basic services and development.
Of these instruments, development cooperation is the main approach used in Rwanda. The primary goals of Switzerland's work in development cooperation are to strengthen the public health system and ensure the provision of basic water supply and sanitation services, good governance and, in particular, vocational education and training together with diversification of employment opportunities, which will be further promoted in the future.
Swiss nationals in Rwanda
As at end-2016, there were 103 Swiss nationals living in Rwanda.
History of bilateral relations
Missionaries established the first Swiss contact with Rwanda. In 1956, André Perraudin from the canton of Valais was appointed apostolic vicar. As Archbishop of Rwanda, he later played an important role in bilateral cooperation.
Rwanda gained independence in 1962 and was immediately recognised by Switzerland. Rwanda became a priority country for Swiss development aid in 1963. In the same year, Swiss nationals first became personal advisers to the country's president. Switzerland maintained an embassy in the capital Kigali between 1970 and 1985.
Following the genocide of 1994, Switzerland halted its development cooperation, turning its attention to delivering humanitarian aid for victims. Four years later it resumed its cooperation activities. In 2004, the special programme for national reconciliation and democratisation was extended by four years. Switzerland has been working in Rwanda as part of a regional programme since 2009. The Swiss embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, has diplomatic responsibility for Rwanda.