The mission of Switzerland’s development cooperation with the South is to fight poverty and reduce global risks, while supporting sustainable global development. South cooperation is an integral part of Switzerland's foreign policy and draws on the Federal Act on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid as its basis. South cooperation activities are also underpinned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and seek to address vulnerabilities and build communities' resilience.
The SDC is tasked to implement the Federal Constitution mandate to "assist in the alleviation of need and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights and democracy, the peaceful co-existence of peoples as well as the conservation of natural resources". Such international cooperation is also clearly in Switzerland's interest, as Switzerland's efforts help to promote international stability.
The SDC undertakes these activities on the basis of the Federal Constitution and the 1976 Federal Act on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, with the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a frame of reference. Its action is guided by the 'leave no one behind' principle, which is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. The Federal Council Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017–20 includes five framework credits relating to the operational activities of the SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) as well as measures for the promotion of peace and human security.
Development cooperation with the South aims to reduce poverty by strengthening partners from civil society and both the private and public sectors. South cooperation activities are planned and implemented in conjunction with local partners, both private and public, within the framework of country programmes spanning several years. The aim is to help people take ownership of their development.