Poverty, instability and violence in fragile states

Supporters of the deposed president José Manuel Zelaya coming under fire from the Honduran army in 2009
Around 1.5 billion people live in countries where violence is part of everyday life. ©Laif/Redux-Stephen Ferry (Honduras, 2009)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines fragility as ‘the combination of exposure to risk and insufficient coping capacity of the state, system and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks’. Fragility is generally conceptualised in relation to five dimensions: economic, environmental, political, security and social.

The term is commonly used by international actors to describe situations in which state institutions are weak or unstable and where poverty, violence, corruption and political arbitrariness are features of everyday life. State structures are either unable or unwilling to carry out core governance functions with regard to security, the rule of law and public service delivery. The country’s authorities often fail to develop mutually constructive relations with its citizens.

An obstacle in the fight against poverty

State fragility is one of the main obstacles to effective, sustainable efforts to combat poverty. There are more than 40 fragile states in the world today. Around 1.5 billion people live in fragile countries and regions. They are frequently among the world’s poorest – and often suffer from both poverty and the impact of violent conflict.

The international community has doubled the financial support provided to fragile states in the past 10 years. Donor countries have recognised the adverse impacts a fragile or conflict-affected environment can have on combating poverty and insecurity in the country concerned. Switzerland has also stepped up its engagement in fragile countries and regions as part of its international cooperation strategy for 2017–20 and is investing 50% of its bilateral credits in fragile situations.

Poverty, violence and fragility – a vicious circle

According to the World Bank, rates of undernutrition and infant mortality are twice as high in fragile states as in other developing countries. Moreover, it is three times more likely that children in fragile countries will be unable to attend school and twice as likely that the population will have no access to clean drinking water.

Fragility, poverty and violence thus form a vicious circle: when state structures are too weak to deliver basic social, economic and legal services or to guarantee security, conflicts tend to escalate. However, this vicious circle can be broken by establishing legitimate institutions and an active civil society.

The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

World leaders expressed their determination to ‘foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies that are free from fear and violence’ in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They set ambitious targets for reducing violence everywhere, ensuring access to justice for all and creating effective, transparent and inclusive institutions.

Switzerland is a member of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of UN member states, international organisations, global partnerships and other stakeholders working to deliver significant improvements in peace, justice and inclusion that will accelerate achievement of SDG 16.

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 30

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
Conflict prevention and transformation
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Civilian peace-building and conflict resolution
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



Myanmar: ensuring children's education in the face of cyclones and conflict

A school class poses for a photo in front of a rebuilt school.

01.12.2015 - 31.07.2018

Rebuilding schools destroyed by a cyclone in a region riven by inter-communal violence: this was the aim of a project undertaken by the SDC and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Nearly 600 students are now able to attend school in safe buildings. The experience gained in this project will be used to rehabilitate other schools in Rakhine State.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Myanmar
Education
educationfacilities-training
EDUCATION
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
Education facilities and training
Disaster prevention and preparedness

01.12.2015 - 31.07.2018


CHF 896'514



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
Conflict prevention and transformation
Culture
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



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.


ProJoven: Vocational training for young people at risk of exclusion

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

En la fase II, ProJoven contribuye a la inserción laboral de aproximamiento 6’000 jóvenes en riesgo del Distrito Central, de la región Golfo de Fonseca y Mosquitia/Atlántida. Esto significa un mínimo de 80% de los 7’500 jóvenes formados con un sistema de formación profesional-inserción laboral de calidad y acorde a la demanda del mercado, que alcanza sectores productivos, servicios y turismo. Además, el sistema formación-inserción laboral incorpora un enfoque psicosocial para la sostenibilidad de los resultados.


Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Resource Center (IHLRC) “Closing the Compliance Gap”

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2019

The Swiss contribution supports Diakonia’s International Humanitarian Law Resource Centre (IHLRC) to respond to the demand for accurate and principled legal analysis on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law in the oPt, and to make it accessible to States and relevant organizations to ensure that their policies and international aid are not in contradiction with international law. This intervention is in line with the Swiss Foreign Policy in the Region and SDC Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018 that aims to promote respect for International Law, to ensure protection by all duty-bearers of the rights of the Palestinian population.


Trans-Border Dialogue for Peace in the Great Lakes Region

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Jointly with the Swedish Embassy, Switzerland supports a trans-border dialogue for peace in the Great Lakes region, a program run by Interpeace with 6 local NGOs. This second phase will continue using research and dialogue to address stereotypes and lack of trust behind recurrent conflicts in the Great Lakes region. Research and dialogue constitute the basis to engage decision makers, to promote good governance and concrete consensus-based solutions taking into account local populations’ concerns and recommendations.


Access to Justice in Tajikistan

A lawyer sits at her desk and discusses with a woman.

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2020

Through this project, Switzerland will accompany the Government in realizing a state system providing free legal aid, which will allow the vulnerable (poor) individuals in Tajikistan to better protect their rights and in particular to claim various benefits (e.g. pensions, child allowances). This system will replace the current NGO provided legal aid services. A space for dialogue between civil society and state authorities will also be preserved and will contribute to addressing further legal challenges faced by the population.


Contribution to UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

01.12.2016 - 30.11.2021

Switzerland is renewing its contribution to the system-wide United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF). As the only global multilateral grant-making mechanism exclusively devoted to supporting local and national efforts to ending violence against women and girls (EVAW/G), including in fragile and conflict contexts, the UNTF has the advantage to possess a global overview of the legal provisions and practices, methods of prevention and types of support services needed. Dissemination of good practice will be strengthened to inform policy and programming.


TUR CONCERN Capacity Strengthening of local NGOs for Effective Refugee Response in Turkey

01.12.2016 - 31.01.2018

Civil Society (CS) in Turkey only recently has developed a humanitarian focus. INGOs, donors and the UN rely on a few natinal NGOs to compleent the governmental refugee respone, which is increasingly strained as the Sate is undergoing a severe crisis. Humanitarian CS initiatives have also emerged at local and provincial level, but there institutional and operational capacities are still weak. This project will stregthen the capacities of 10 local NGOs to conduct refugee assistance. 


Prevention of Domestic Violence in Tajikistan

01.10.2016 - 30.09.2019

Domestic violence is widespread in Tajik society (70% of women experience domestic violence in their life). Despite the adoption of the law on domestic violence in 2013, the Government lacks coordinated mechanisms for its implementation. In the exit phase the project will shift from NGO based service provision towards supporting the state coordination mechanisms, the establishment of an effective public referral system providing services to the victims, and public awareness activities with a focus on contributing to behavioural changes.


Renforcement d’IDEA phase Unique (RIDEAU)

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2018

Le programme d’IDEA en Haïti vise le renforcement des institutions (p. ex. Parlement) et des acteurs politiques (p. ex. partis), piliers institutionnels de  l’état de droit. Ce faisant IDEA contribue à bâtir une gouvernance nationale respectueuse de la participation citoyenne et paritaire entre les femmes et les hommes. La DDC apporte une contribution générale à IDEA avec un suivi particulier sur la participation politiques des femmes et sur les pratiques de reddition des comptes. 

Object 1 – 12 of 30