No development without human rights

Rohingya children playing with a doll at a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
The SDC gives high priority to protecting the rights of vulnerable groups such as the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. © Anna Dubuis / DFID

Sustainable development is only possible if fundamental human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, and the rule of law are respected. These rights form the basis of international cooperation. This is why the promotion of human rights is a key issue for the SDC.

SDC focus

The realization of human rights is a foreign policy objective anchored in the Federal Constitution. Swiss human rights foreign policy focuses on the following three priorities:

  • The protection and promotion of civil and political rights, for example access to justice free of discrimination and participation in political processes
  • The protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education or health
  • The protection of the rights of especially vulnerable groups.

The SDC contributes to the implementation of the human rights policy by promoting the rights of the poor and supporting governments in their efforts to respect, protect and promote these rights. SDC's programmes on fighting poverty actively promote human rights.

Working with the human rights approach

The SDC works with a human-rights-based approach. In addition to international standards, which give legitimacy to development cooperation, the SDC promotes the following human rights principles:

  • Equal rights and non-discrimination
  • Participation and support in asserting human rights (empowerment)
  • Responsibility for human rights violations, accountability and redress
  • Indivisibility and universality.

The SDC undertakes to systematically include questions of rights, for example in the fields of migration or labour law, in its programmes in all its partner countries. It uses a human rights approach to help people ("rights holders") to exercise and demand their rights. At the same time, it assists state and non-state institutions ("duty bearers") in their efforts to adhere to their obligation to ensure respect for and the protection of human rights.

Strengthening state institutions and promoting the rights of vulnerable groups

Fragility, armed conflicts and human rights violations – which tend to become mutually reinforcing like in a vicious cycle – hinder the fight against poverty. In most cases, fragile states cannot guarantee basic services, including protection against human rights violations. For this reason, the SDC helps its partner countries strengthen their state structures, thus enabling them to better fulfil their human rights obligations.

In Tajikistan, for example, the SDC supports reforms to strengthen rights-assistance services, the main beneficiaries of which are women whose husbands have gone to other countries to work. In Albania, with the assistance of the SDC, a comprehensive and sustainable social-protection system has been put in place to improve the social integration of the Roma community. In Bolivia, the SDC supports the national ombudsman's office for human rights, and seeks to address the concerns of the indigenous populations. In Afghanistan, the SDC assists women's organisations, and in Honduras it helps protect human rights defenders.

With these projects, the SDC promotes the rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, strengthens civil society and promotes the establishment of state institutions.

Examining states' human rights commitment

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the most important human rights conventions of the United Nations together form a broad-based regulatory framework for international human rights protection. One of the strengths of this frame of reference is its universality: human rights are valid worldwide. The majority of states have ratified the most important human rights conventions. Nevertheless, many states do not adhere to their obligations.

For this reason, the UN has set up a number of monitoring mechanisms. In the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN member states are obliged to report regularly on their current domestic human rights situation. Through the UPR, civil society now has a voice at the international level and can reach the general public. The SDC supports these efforts. For example, it has enabled Pakistani journalists to express their positions on the Pakistani government's state report. In Afghanistan, it supports the justice ministry in implementing the UN's recommendations.

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 72

Capacity building for Serbian municipalities

Around 50 parliamentarians in session at the Serbian parliament.

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Switzerland is supporting the Serbian government’s public administration reform, which aims to make it more effective and accessible to both citizens and the private sector. SwissPRO project is being run in 99 municipalities (two-thirds of Serbia) to improve good governance, social inclusion and gender equality.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Serbia
Governance
Human rights
Gender
Decentralisation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Human rights
Women's equality organisations and institutions

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021


CHF 7'000'000



Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem

Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian territory

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

By supporting a comprehensive child protection programme in occupied East Jerusalem, Switzerland aims to ensure that vulnerable children at risk of being in conflict with the law or directly affected by the conflict, together with their families, have access to appropriate preventive and protection programmes. The intervention, implemented by UNICEF and its partners, is in line with Switzerland's engagement for the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Governance
Conflict & fragility
Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Conflict prevention
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Legal and judicial development
Civilian peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution
Human rights

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 2'250'000



Confronting and combating gender-based violence in Mongolia

Two female Mongolian social workers.

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020

Gender-based violence has been on the rise in Mongolia since the turn of the millennium. Yet because of a serious lack of data, the extent of the phenomenon is difficult to assess and a culture of impunity continues to hold sway.  The SDC plans to conduct a national survey to address this problem.  At the same time, it intends to strengthen institutions, put in place appropriate services and raise public awareness.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Governance
Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Legal and judicial development
Human rights

01.05.2016 - 30.04.2020


CHF 4'090'000



Nepal: An array of measures to tackle gender-based violence

Group photo of the participants from above

01.02.2016 - 30.06.2020

Gender-based violence is a widespread problem in Nepal, and an obstacle to sustainable development. The SDC and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a 3-year prevention and response project at the beginning of 2016. Women and girls are learning about their rights and being encouraged to report assaults. Men and boys are being encouraged to change their behaviour towards women. And duty bearers are learning to respond more rapidly and effectively. The project is already delivering first encouraging results.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Nepal
Gender
Human rights
Sexual & gender-based violence
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Ending violence against women and girls
Human rights

01.02.2016 - 30.06.2020


CHF 3'743'000



Reforming civil society organisations in Moldova

Women and men assembled in a room

01.12.2015 - 30.06.2021

The Engaging Citizens and Empowering Communities project aims to strengthen civil society organisations by enabling them to play a crucial role in promoting and safeguarding the rights and interests of vulnerable and marginalised people in Moldova.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Moldova
Governance
Human rights
Democratic participation and civil society
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Democratic participation and civil society
Human rights

01.12.2015 - 30.06.2021


CHF 3'150'000



Forging a common «Nile culture» through music and academic training

Nile Project musicians on a boat.

01.05.2015 - 31.10.2019

To make the Nile Basin a common ground and shared ecosystem for the inhabitants of the eleven countries through which the Nile River flows, the SDC supports the innovative musical and educational Nile Project. The project brings together artists, students and concerned citizens. A series of acclaimed concerts has taken place since 2013; at the same time, students are developing initiatives to foster a better use of water resources.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Egypt
Culture / development awareness
Employment & economic development
Education
Climate change and environment
Gender
Governance
Migration
Other
Vocational training
Human rights
Culture & recreation
SME development
Education policy
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
Democratic participation and civil society
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
Sector not specified
Development awareness
Business support & economic inclusion
Environmental policy
Public sector policy
Vocational training
Biosphere protection
Legal and judicial development
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
EDUCATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
COMMUNICATIONS
INDUSTRY
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
Unallocated / Unspecified
EDUCATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
BUSINESS & OTHER SERVICES
INDUSTRY
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Unallocated / Unspecified
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
COMMUNICATIONS
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Unallocated / Unspecified
Education policy and administrative management
Democratic participation and civil society
Women's equality organisations and institutions
Facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility
Culture and recreation
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Disaster prevention and preparedness
Sectors not specified
Vocational training
Public sector policy and administrative management
Business support services and institutions
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Environmental policy and administrative management
Sectors not specified
Promotion of development awareness (non-sector allocable)
Legal and judicial development
Human rights
Women's equality organisations and institutions
Facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility
Culture and recreation
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Biosphere protection
Sectors not specified

01.05.2015 - 31.10.2019


CHF 750'000



Life without violence, from dream to reality

The face of a woman who has been abused.

01.02.2015 - 31.05.2020

The SDC hopes that by backing a newly-adopted law in Bolivia on ending violence against women, it can contribute to more systematic and targeted care for female victims. Local and national authorities and the people are working together on a comprehensive approach to prevent assaults on women. Too often, attitudes are tinged with a male chauvinism that sanctions violence.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bolivia
Human rights
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Human rights

01.02.2015 - 31.05.2020


CHF 4'070'000



Sustainable Artisanal Mining

A miner drilling rock in search of gold.

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019

With the boom in the informal mining sector at the start of the 2000s, the Mongolian government, with support from the SDC, launched a project for sustainable artisanal mining in 2005. The project’s aim is to formalise and legalise these activities while developing the capacities of the miners.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Governance
Human rights
Mineral/mining policy
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
MINERAL RESOURCES & MINING
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Mineral/mining policy and administrative management
Human rights

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019


CHF 6'265'000



oPt, Enhancing Social Engagement and Accountability through Culture and the Arts

Qattana local community members are beautifying their village through repairing and painting the walls

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

The aim of this intervention is to enhance social engagement and participation, to promote the role of people as agents of change and to strengthen social accountability in the oPt. SDC will support initiatives that use arts and culture as a means to enhance democratic debates, promote social inclusion and active participation within the communities and between the communities and the local authorities. The initiatives will favour the participation of youth and women in local public debates.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Human rights
Conflict & fragility
Culture & recreation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Conflict prevention
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Culture and recreation
Human rights
Civilian peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019


CHF 901'868



Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Project (GBV Project)

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Gender-based violence is prevalent in Nepal because of patriarchal values, lack of rights awareness or support services and poor implementation of laws. In the first phase, the project will directly reach 50,000 households in three districts with GBV prevention activities involving women, girls, men and boys and will provide improved medical, psychosocial and legal services for a minimum of 1’000 GBV survivors. Subsequently, the coverage will be increased.


Strengthening of civil-political-economic rights and social auditing.

01.05.2020 - 30.06.2027

Strengthening civil-political-economic rights, freedom of expression and social auditing is a priority to ensure the functioning of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Honduras. The role of civil society is essential in the construction of citizenship and to ensure a system of check and balance. Therefore, the program will support 6 to 8 national civil society organization with strong anchoring in the territories to promote jointly in a concerted, impartial and evidence based way these topics.


National Human Rights Program for Afghanistan (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2023

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has a constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights in Afghanistan. The Commission continues the journey of building an Afghan society free of fear and discrimination. It lobbies with the government and other actors and contributes significantly to enhance human rights awareness, education, monitoring and reporting, and to empower Afghan citizens to defend their human rights. Switzerland together with other donors provides financial and when required technical support.

Object 1 – 12 of 72