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.


Current projects

Object 1057 – 1068 of 1096

Environmental and Social Risk Management Program

01.08.2015 - 31.12.2022

The Environmental and Social Risk Management Program will be implemented in three countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria). Its aim is to ensure that lending to economic activities does not come at the cost of human well-being, natural resources and vital ecosystems.

Suceava electromobility

A man renting an e-bike.

30.07.2015 - 07.09.2019

This project aims at promoting electromobility in the city of Suceava and throughout Romania. The supply of different types of e-vehicles and the construction of a dense and future-oriented network of charging stations are promoting this technology. The effects of the projects are a reduced consumption of energy resulting in a decreased emission of climate-effecting gases. Furthermore, an example for the use of electric vehicles as a way towards a more sustainable and green mobility is to be made.

Public financial Management Analytical and Advisory Assistance

01.07.2015 - 31.12.2020

Strengthening Public Financial Management (PFM) at central and subnational level is essential for stronger governance, improved outputs from public resources and effective expenditure management. This Trust Fund is a vehicle for development partners to drive PFM reform forward by strengthening the capacity to implement PFM reforms.

Naryn Water Rehabilitation Project I

30.06.2015 - 31.12.2019

SECO has a longstanding partnership with the Kyrgyz government in the urban water and sewerage sector. Since 2009, SECO has been engaged in 4 cities (Osh, Jalalabad, Kant and Bishkek) on a co-financing basis with EBRD. Given the remaining dramatic institutional and infrastructural needs, the proposal is now to engage in the city of Naryn.

Brasov rehabilitation of district heating system

Construction worker in excavator

25.06.2015 - 07.09.2019

In the framework of this project, the old, worn-out and over-dimensioned tubes of the heat transport and distribution networks of district heating system of Tractorul, a residential area of the city of Brasov, will be replaced.

Integrated Export Services for Sustainable Support of SMEs

A woman picking lettuce.

17.06.2015 - 07.09.2019

The project aims to strengthen the competitiveness and export capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs), specifically in the wood and furniture industry as well as in the organic agriculture sector, by improving their export potential and their market diversification, thereby reducing economic disparities and contributing to the development of two of Romania's poorest regions. Currently, Romania has a low number of exporting SMEs and a limited number of innovative companies being involved in export. The project is full in line with Romania’s National Export Strategy (2014-2020) owing to Romania’s competitive advantages such as technical skills, good farmland, availability of raw materials and external demand. 

Crop Receipts Project Ukraine

01.06.2015 - 30.06.2020

The Crop Receipt project facilitates access to finance for small and midsize agri-businesses in Ukraine. Crop receipts essentially are loan agreements between a farmer and a creditor, where the loan is repaid by the future harvest or the proceeds from its sale. Given the vast untapped agriculture potential and its importance for agrarian SME development, the Crop Receipt project is key to facilitate economic inclusion of small and midsize farmers through the provision of growth capital. The project is implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and was launched in 2015.

Pilot models for environmentally friendly collection and temporary storage of hazardous household waste

21.04.2015 - 07.12.2019

Despite existing policy and regulatory frameworks in the field of national waste management in Bulgaria, efficient solutions for the waste problem are not yet employed. In order to address this, law-conforming systems for environmentally friendly collection and temporary storage of hazardous household waste (HHW) shall be established in a pilot project covering 22 pilot municipalities.

Environmentally sound disposal of obsolete pesticides

Worker with pesticides

21.04.2015 - 07.12.2019

The project aims to support Bulgaria in the environmentally friendly disposal of several thousand tons of dangerous obsolete chemicals from the days of Communist rule and thereby removes a serious threat to public health and environment.

Suceava public lighting with LED

02.04.2015 - 07.09.2019

In order to improve road safety and save energy, Suceava’s street lighting system was modernized and equipped with modern LED lamps and a telemanagement system.

Water sanitation in 10 medium-sized cities

01.04.2015 - 31.12.2020

This program includes the construction and expansion of existing sewerage systems and the construction of waste water treatment plants (WWTP) in medium-sized cities in Tunisia. It is planned to dedicate the Swiss financing for the construction of the WWTP in Tajérouine, for complementary measures and for the implementation consultant.

World Bank Capital Markets Strenghtening Facility

01.03.2015 - 31.12.2019

The Capital Markets Strengthening Facility is an innovative cross-cutting initiative with the overall objective to develop stable and resilient capital markets and to facilitate long-term local currency financing for sectors critical for economic growth and poverty reduction. SECO’s funds are earmarked to its priority countries in the 'South'.

Object 1057 – 1068 of 1096