UNICEF works all over the world for children's welfare. Despite enormous progress, millions of children are still unable to attend school and suffer from malnutrition. UNICEF works for children's rights, the fulfilment of their basic needs and to improve their future prospects. Its dual mandate of emergency humanitarian aid and development cooperation makes UNICEF Switzerland's most important partner for the protection of children.
The Children’s Fund – UNICEF
UNICEF's principal task is to promote the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF is committed to ensuring that all children, without discrimination or preference, have the opportunity to survive, thrive and fulfil their potential. UNICEF works to create appropriate conditions for children's development and is particularly concerned with the protection of children in conflicts and emergency situations.
Considerable progress was made over the past 20 years: the under-five mortality rate fell from 12.7 million to around 6 million deaths per year, and the proportion of children suffering from undernutrition was halved. In 2016, the net primary school enrolment rate in developing countries reached 92%, and gender parity at this level continued to rise. However, a large number of the poorest and most disadvantaged children have not benefited from this significant progress. The positive results in countries that have achieved their national targets mask the considerable inequality that still exists. Moreover, ongoing humanitarian crises continue to hinder the development of some 30 million children.
The UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021 aims to achieve concrete results, particularly for the most disadvantaged children. The overarching aim is to break the vicious circle of inequality. The strategy is based on the following five goal areas:
- Every child survives and thrives
This includes promoting development in early childhood, improving the nutritional status of children and boosting the health of mothers and newborns. It also includes for example ensuring the health of young people through vaccinations, HIV/AIDS prevention and the promotion of a balanced diet.
- Every child learns
This includes promoting learning processes in infants in general, creating access to education for out-of-school girls and boys, especially in contexts of humanitarian crisis, and promoting the development of skills among young people.
- Every child is protected from violence and exploitation
This includes, among other things, counteracting violence and harmful practices against girls and boys wherever possible, preventing serious offences against children in humanitarian crises and introducing universal birth registration.
- Every child lives in a safe and clean environment
Ensure access to drinking water and basic sanitation for each child; boost protection of children from pollution, natural disasters and the consequences of climate change.
- Every child has an equitable chance in life
This includes ensuring gender equality at an early age, comprehensive support for children with disabilities, greater participation of young people in public processes and the reduction of multidimensional child poverty through better social protections.
UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021
Through its activities, UNICEF has made a substantial contribution to improving the normative and legal framework for children worldwide. In 2017, it achieved the following results, among others:
- Over 78.6 million children were vaccinated against measles (+54% compared to 2013) and 150,000 HIV-infected children received antiretroviral therapy.
- 32.7 million children obtained access to improved drinking water (+42% compared to 2014).
- 12.5 million children were provided with educational materials (+31% compared to 2014).
UNICEF's priorities and operational activities are aligned with the strategic objectives set out in the Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017–2020, namely objectives 2 (Prevent and manage the consequences of crisis and disaster, and of fragility; promote conflict transformation) and 3 (Support sustainable access to resources and services for all).
Switzerland’s objectives in relation to UNICEF are the following:
- Strengthen UNICEF's capacities for the protection and education of children, both in humanitarian emergencies and in long-term development cooperation;
- Support UNICEF in its efforts to strengthen its operational capacity by improving its evaluation capacity, deepening its engagement with the private sector and promoting gender equality within the organisation;
- Improve cooperation with the UN system through active participation in reforms of the UN development system and by strengthening coordination of activities at country level.
Switzerland will make a core contribution of CHF 59.6 million for the period 2018–20, or around CHF 20 million a year. The SDC also provides funding for UNICEF's humanitarian operations and development activities at the global and national levels, and provides experts for the implementation of UNICEF programmes in strategic areas such as protection in crisis situations, water and sanitation.
As one of the main donor countries and through its participation on the Executive Board, Switzerland plays an active role in monitoring and evaluating UNICEF's operational and financial reporting. Switzerland holds regular discussions with UNICEF at various management levels to determine progress and future challenges.
Switzerland's commitment to UNICEF contributes in the long term to stable societies and thus to a stable global environment. As a highly globalised, globally networked country, Switzerland depends on this stability for its security and prosperity. UNICEF is an important partner of Switzerland with regard to its international responsibility, obligations and goals with respect to child protection and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.