Preventing violent conflict

It is not unusual for violent conflicts to flare up again after a period of calm or following a ceasefire. However, it is possible to break recurring cycles of violence by addressing the root causes of the conflict and taking statebuilding factors into account, for example. Governments that do this are more likely to achieve good governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights and thus promote constructive conflict resolution. The term ‘resilience’ is also commonly used.

What does ‘violent conflict’ mean?

Conflicts are not exclusively negative: they can also help societies to develop. Norbert Ropers, an expert on peace matters, sees conflict as an inevitable phenomenon associated with co-existence in all societies and, indeed, a necessary corollary of social change. He defines conflict as the expression of tensions and incompatibilities between different, mutually interdependent parties with regard to their respective needs, interests and values.

The problem starts when conflicts are settled through violent means. The prevention of violence therefore aims to resolve social and political conflicts through peaceful means. Fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies is one way of doing so.

What does ‘preventing violence’ mean?

Preventing violence involves more than merely ensuring that crises do not happen in the first place. It also means tackling the root causes of the conflict in question in order to prevent the recurrence of violence.

Establishing lasting peace also depends on statebuilding factors, i.e. strengthening state structures in general to improve their capacity to resist conflict. Good governance, the rule of law and the protection of human rights play a key role.

The SDC’s contribution to reducing violent conflicts

Development actors are increasingly required to accompany pathways out of fragility and towards long-term change, particularly by working directly in and on a conflict instead of organising their programmes around a conflict. Besides adapting their working methods, this also requires them to examine the nature of the conflict and its causes. Restoring security and the rule of law for the population is essential to break the cycle of violence and prevent conflicts from flaring up again. The SDC focuses on supporting civil society and building up local government institutions, while promoting participatory decision-making processes. Two concepts play a key role: security sector reform (SSR) and dealing with the past.

Since the publication in 2005 of the 'In Larger Freedom' report by the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the concept of SSR has gained a firm foothold in the fight against poverty. Annan stressed that development and security were inextricably linked and interdependent. SSR promotes the following objectives:

  • Establishment of effective governance, oversight and accountability in the security sector
  • Improved and sustainable access to security and justice services
  • Development of local leadership and ownership of the reform process

A case in point is the SDC’s project supporting police reform in Honduras, the country with the highest homicide rate in the world. By realigning the law enforcement mandate to focus on community policing, establishing a system of internal controls and sanctions, and creating an independent complaints body, the SDC is contributing to the fight against impunity and an improvement in the security situation.

The SDC’s actions for dealing with the past are based on the four ‘Joinet principles’ proposed by the French human rights expert and former long-serving UN official Louis Joinet. The principles, which Joinet formulated after the war in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda, were adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission in 1997 and are based on the following pillars:

  • The right to know: Both individual victims of human rights violations and society as a whole have a right to know what happened during a war or armed conflict. Truth and reconciliation commissions are often used to this end.
  • The right to justice: Victims have a right to see that the perpetrators of serious human rights violations are criminally prosecuted. National, international or mixed courts play an important role in this respect.
  • The right to reparation: Victims have the right to be restored to their situation prior to the human rights violation (‘restitution’). When this is not possible, they should at the very least be compensated for the injustice and suffering (‘compensation’), and receive medical care (‘rehabilitation’). States often issue apologies and build memorials to the victims as a form of reparation.
  • The guarantee of non-recurrence: Victims have the right to be protected from all future violence. This process often begins with free and fair elections and goes hand in hand with the demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of rebels.

Documents

Current projects

Object 13 – 24 of 1101

Water and Sanitation for Syrian Refugees and Their Lebanese Hosts

a 1000 litre water tank

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020

The crisis in Syria has a significant impact in Lebanon. The country is home to over one million Syrian refugees. Basic needs are unmet due to this unprecedented population growth and lack of public facilities. The SDC supports a project of the Lebanese Red Cross on water and sanitation for Syrian refugees and host communities in the Akkar Governorate bordering Syria.

Country/region Period Budget
Lebanon

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020


CHF 1'100'000



Improving safety for the Croatian population in mine-infested areas

A deminer removes mines in a meadow

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024

Mines and other explosive remnants of war are a dangerous legacy from Croatia's 1991–96 war and they continue to pose a threat to the local population. Integrating mine victims economically and socially is also a challenge for Croatian society. As part of its enlargement contribution, Switzerland has provided CHF 3 million to support mine-clearance measures and improve the situation for mine victims and their families. The goal is to improve living conditions for people living in mine-infested areas.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Removal of land mines and explosive remnants of war
Enhanced security and safety

01.06.2017 - 10.12.2024


CHF 3'000'000



Support for international R&D cooperation in Croatia

The founder and managing director of lighting company REFLECTA presenting his lighting project with the aid of a flipchart.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022

Croatia ranks above average in terms of investment in new technologies compared to other EU member states but lags behind in the development of new products. Innovation is a key driver of economic development and therefore important to a country with a high unemployment rate. Switzerland is therefore contributing CHF 1 million to support Croatia's Eurostars programme. This programme promotes international R&D cooperation between Croatian SMEs and European partners.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Croatia
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022


CHF 1'000'000



Maximum cooperation needed to manage glacier melt in Central Asia

Two men working with specialist equipment on a glacier.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020

How to meet the needs of Central Asia’s 68 million inhabitants for water while respecting the glaciers overlooking Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan? The SDC’s project is building on voluntary regional cooperation and rigorous scientific monitoring of the changes taking place in the glaciers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Water diplomacy and security
Water sector policy
Water resources conservation
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'200'000



Higher Income in the South Caucasus Thanks to Competitive Agricultural Products

A man in a protective suit holding a honeycomb full of bees on the roof of a high-rise building.

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021

Livestock farming is an important source of income for a large part of the rural population in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But many farmers live from subsistence farming and produce just enough food for their own needs. The aims of the project are to strengthen smallholder farms and to provide them with access to markets. This way, farmers can sell their honey, meat, cheese and wool products, and sustainably increase their incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural development

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021


CHF 5'100'000



Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organisations

Reform and development of markets, value chains and producers’ organisations, occupied Palestinian territory

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021

Private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness in the Palestinian occupied territory (oPT) can play a key role in building a resilient economy towards economic growth and in safeguarding rights and entitlements to natural resources and markets. This program aims at improving income and productivity in the agriculture sector, through improved access to markets, increased share of local market, enhanced competitiveness and profitability of Palestinian agribusinesses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy and administrative management
Agricultural co-operatives

01.03.2017 - 31.08.2021


CHF 3'000'000



Access to drinking water: a challenge in Tajikistan

Three children around a fountain.

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021

In Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia, half of the 8.5 million inhabitants do not have access to drinking water. In mountainous and rural regions, the figure reaches 80%. This situation poses a serious risk to public health. The SDC's project on 'Safe drinking water and sanitation management in Tajikistan' (SWSMT) focuses on access to drinking water and sanitation in the east of the country.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tajikistan
Governance
Water
Decentralisation
Water supply
Water sanitation
Public sector policy
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Basic drinking water supply
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Basic sanitation
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)
Public sector policy and administrative management
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.03.2017 - 28.02.2021


CHF 5'300'000



An attractive labour market for young Kosovars

A young man working on an electrical system.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

The project « Enhancing Youth Employment » is aimed at improving job opportunities for young people in Kosovo, a population segment particularly impacted by unemployment. By connecting employers and job seekers, and by training young people in the skills in demand on the labour market, the project is helping to reduce unemployment and drive economic growth.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Employment creation
Vocational training
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'570'000



Better public services in fourteen of Benin’s communes

A woman and a man shake hands in front of a sign with Switzerland's logo and the names of the two towns involved in building the bridge.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Efforts to decentralise public services in Benin are paying off. The SDC is focusing on two of the country’s departments. Since 2008, when the first support programme was launched, significant progress has been seen on the ground.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Governance
Decentralisation
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 8'500'000



Effective management and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

: A woman doctor examining a woman patient.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. On an international average 60% of deaths are linked to NCDs.  This rate is often much higher in low-to-middle-income countries.  This is the case in Kyrgyzstan where cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes account for 80% of deaths

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kyrgyzstan
Health
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening
HEALTH
HEALTH
Basic health care
Health policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 4'810'000



Sustainably managed pastures and healthy animals: Mongolia's 'green gold'

A woman holding a blue bucket tends to a herd of yak in a vast grassland landscape.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the number of livestock in Mongolia has nearly tripled – to the detriment of the country's grasslands. The SDC is supporting an array of measures to encourage the sustainable use of pastureland, and to improve animal health and the marketing of livestock products. These efforts are helping to safeguard the livelihoods of nomadic herder families.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mongolia
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural land resources
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations
Agricultural policy
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
Agricultural land resources
Agricultural co-operatives
Agricultural policy and administrative management

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 7'776'000



Better training to facilitate the integration of youngsters in rural areas into the labour market

Three young Nigerien men walking through a plantation.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

The SDC is committed to improving the education and vocational training system in Niger. Over 1.5 million young people living in rural areas currently have no access to education or vocational training. Their future ability to enter the labour market depends on good-quality basic education and vocational training tailored to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Niger

Dosso and Maradi

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Primary education
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
EDUCATION
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management
Primary education

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 14'500'000


Object 13 – 24 of 1101