The main task of the Advisory Committee on International Cooperation is to advise the Federal Council as well as the various departments of the Federal Administration and especially the Management of the SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Its agenda is based on the middle-term planning of affairs treated by the Federal Council and the Parliament and on important topics relating to international cooperation.
According to the Ordinance on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid dated 12 December 1977, the Advisory Committee on International Development and Cooperation has to fulfill the following three main tasks:
- The Advisory Committee advises the Federal Council on subjects of international development and cooperation, humanitarian aid, and the cooperation with the states of Eastern Europe.
- It examines, in particular, the goals, priorities, and the overall plan of development cooperation.
- It can submit its own recommendations (RS 974.01 Art.25).
The Advisory Committee is presently chaired by Mr. Felix Gutzwiller and is composed of 22 members hailing from various domains. Their representation in the committee is as follows:
- Parliament: Each parliamentary faction is represented by one person. The participation of members of Parliament aims at a better networking with parliamentary committees and with Parliament itself.
- Non-Governmental Organizations: The representatives of NGOs are either active strategically in development cooperation or in the area of sensitizing the public in Switzerland to issues of development policy.
- Private enterprise: Representatives from banking and from internationally active enterprises are provided by the private sector.
- Media: The participation of a representative from the media serves to guarantee a link to the press and to ensure that the public stays informed with respect to the relevant issues of development policy.
- Universities: The representatives from universities are persons who are internationally active in topics of international development cooperation.
The themes discussed by the Advisory Committee are mainly affairs treated by the Federal Council and the Parliament as well as important topics relating to development policy. It is foreseen that the Advisory Committee discusses its themes in plenary assemblies. For special issues or specific topics of development policy, ad hoc working groups can be set up.
The Committee assembles five times a year in Berne. Once a year, a 1½-day closed-door meeting takes place out of town.