Switzerland's foreign policy on migration: coherence for development

Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in Sri Lanka.
Switzerland's migration partnership with Sri Lanka aims to strengthen human rights and creates prospects for young local generations by providing vocational skills development. ©FDJP

Migration is a complex phenomenon, which is why an effective foreign policy on migration deploys a range of different tools. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is part of the interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration and uses its experience to help meet Switzerland's foreign policy objectives on migration. It takes part in implementing migration partnerships through programmes it has developed with the involved countries. The SDC is committed to better migration management which builds on the economic, social and cultural opportunities arising from migration, and alleviates the associated suffering.

The SDC's focus

Managing migration effectively requires a variety of actors to work together in order to meet the diverse challenges involved. That is why Switzerland has for many years taken a whole-of-government approach in its migration policy (interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration or ICM structure).

The SDC's role in the ICM structure is to focus in particular on the link between migration and development, and on the SDC's operational experience.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration

The interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration (ICM structure), which was created by the Federal Council in February 2011, brings together key units from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). The structure ensures that activities related to Switzerland's foreign policy on migration are coordinated both at the strategic and operational level.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration, SEM

Ensuring a common approach

The SDC works to ensure that its field experience and the international dialogue on migration are reflected in Switzerland's national debate on migration. It also supports reinforcing the coherence between migration policy and development policy, a principle which it implements in its own programmes.

Migration partnerships

In addition, the SDC contributes to the implementation of migration partnerships by developing programmes in Switzerland's partner countries. Such programmes have existed for more than ten years in Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.

Migration partnerships help strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of Switzerland's foreign policy on migration. They also facilitate constructive approaches to the challenges of migration, as well as how to exploit the opportunities it affords.

Background

Global migration has changed considerably in recent years. In fact, it has been diversified and globalised by increased mobility and access to information and the media. Although the underlying causes of migration – poverty, war, human rights violations, economic crises and climate change – remain basically unchanged, the scale and global implications of migration have made it more complex. This situation gives Switzerland new opportunities but also presents it with new challenges.

In response, Switzerland's foreign policy on migration is based on three basic principles:

  • A global approach to migration:
    migration is a global phenomenon that creates both risks and opportunities.
  • A partnership approach:
    the risks and opportunities generated by migration apply to the countries of origin, transit and destination.
  • A whole-of-government approach:
    in the area of migration, coherent action between the different departments of the Federal Administration is required.

Against this backdrop, Swiss development cooperation has done much to help address global migration. In the short term, Switzerland's development cooperation activities can contribute to mitigate the causes of forced displacement. In the medium term, its efforts in this area contribute to an increasingly regular and safe migration, as well as to improving the integration of forcibly displaced people in host countries in their region of origin. In the long term, Swiss development cooperation can contribute to the causes of irregular migration in a sustainable way, providing local people with prospects in their own countries and fighting the root causes of displacement through prevention work and strengthening governance in partner countries.

Implementation in Africa

The Horn of Africa is one of the world's regions with the highest levels of displacement. Switzerland has been working to protect refugees in the region for more than 20 years. It set up a strategic partnership with the only regional organisation in the Horn of Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). IGAD covers eight countries with a combined population of more than 280 million people.

Switzerland's support is both financial and technical (via a seconded expert) as well as political, and enables the eight countries in the region to improve their national and regional management of migration. It strengthens the countries' response to displacement caused by climate change-related disasters and facilitates mobility for migrants in the region by giving them employment prospects in the region. A protected migrant with a job can make a positive contribution to the development of their family, community, host country and country of origin.  

This strategic partnership is the first initiative co-financed by the three main actors in the Federal Administration working in the area of migration – the SDC, the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). It allows Switzerland to conduct a dialogue on migration with the eight countries in the Horn of Africa, which also takes into account Switzerland's foreign and domestic policy interests.

Current projects

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Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

01.12.2018 - 31.08.2024

Migration is one of the 21st century’s defining features that significantly impacts economic and social development. It is thus crucial to ensure that the positive effects of migration on development are maximized, while the negative ones minimized. This is only possible if reliable evidence on migration and its interrelations with development is available. KNOMAD generates ground-breaking research and policy recommendations in the field of M&D. Switzerland has taken a lead in building-up KNOMAD as a pioneering knowledge initiative.


Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT)

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2021

Africa and Europe are intrinsically linked with respect to migration. Swiss support to the pioneering Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT) contributes to strengthening the capacities of African Diaspora Development Organisations based in Europe, including in Switzerland, to promote sustained development in Africa. As ADEPT and its members are active throughout the African continent, a support to the platform allows an outreach in Africa with a relatively limited financial investment.


Swiss Civil Society Organizations Platform on Migration and Development

01.11.2018 - 31.10.2021

Obtaining a coherent and practical Swiss foreign policy on migration (acknowledging the potential of migration for development) depends on the close collaboration between Swiss officials, civil society organisations and the private sector. In its second phase, the project “Swiss CSO Platform on Migration and Development” will contribute to shaping a constructive narrative on Migration and Development, while further strengthening the Swiss Civil Society’s contribution towards the Agenda 2030 and the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM)/Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). 


Fair Recruitment and Labour Conditions of Migrant Workers

01.10.2018 - 31.10.2021

Many of the 105 million people working outside their countries of origin have fallen victim of exploitative practices by unethical recruiters and employers. This project aims to prevent abuses and exploitation of migrant workers. It responds to a demand by the private sector in the global North for ethical standards throughout their supply chains. The Swiss private sector will benefit from stricter standards of recruitment and decent work, while Swiss consumers will profit from consumer goods increasingly produced under fair and ethical standards.


Appui à la résilience de l’élevage pastoral en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2021

L’Afrique de l’Ouest connait une crise alimentaire qui touche environ 10 millions de personnes dont beaucoup d’éleveurs. Les plans de réponse des Etats et des institutions régionales ne mettent pas assez l’accent sur les éleveurs. Ce programme fournira une aide d’urgence à 174’240 éleveurs vulnérables de la région et améliorera les outils de distribution de l’aide dans les mécanismes régionaux et nationaux de gestion de crises alimentaire. Il réduira les conflits, en limitant les transhumances précoces.


Building Regional and National capacities for improved Migration Governance in the IGAD Region

01.10.2018 - 31.12.2021

The Horn of Africa is of high interest for Switzerland in terms of migration policy. Swiss support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its Member States will contribute to improve their capacities to manage migration. Migrants and refugees will be better protected in the region and the contribution of migration to development of the Horn of Africa will be supported, hence stability promoted. The Swiss expertise and engagement at the policy level will contribute to foster a dialogue on migration between Switzerland and the Horn of Africa.


Blue Peace Financing: transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.10.2018 - 30.06.2023

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, additional private capital deployed towards sustainable development are needed. Blue Peace advocates for investments to be re-directed to two levels: transboundary entities and to municipalities. This will have a transformative impact. As a door opener, Switzerland through its partnership with UNCDF contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments leading to sustainable development and peace.


Migrant Rights and Decent Work (MiriDew)

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2021

Remittances sent home by over 3 million Nepali migrant workers have significantly reduced poverty. Nevertheless, the rights of migrants are regularly violated. The proposed project will enhance the Government of Nepal’s understanding of overseas labour market conditions and strengthen mechanisms to better protect the rights of Nepali workers at home and abroad through better consular support and a strong presence in the international policy dialogue.


Strengthening the capacities of Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) serving migrants in Egypt

15.04.2018 - 30.11.2021

In Egypt, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) are key actors in responding to migrant’s[1] basic needs. These include child and adult education, emergency assistance, medical and legal services. The project strengthens the ability of these organisations to provide these much-needed services. Moreover, CBOs will be empowered to advocate for migrant’s needs in the donor community and with decision makers. Reliable and sustainable services for migrants in Egypt also serve the migration interests of Switzerland.

 

[1]  The term migrant in this proposal includes refugees, asylum seekers, new arrivals in the “pre-refugee status determination phase”, (all nationalities identified by UNHCR) and vulnerable migrants (irregular and regular) residing in Egypt.

 


Eritrea UNDP Skills and Migration Project

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2019

The Swiss Development Cooperation will contribute to the second phase of this UNDP project aiming at expanding economic opportunities for youth through skills development and improving the enabling environment for employment creation and business.  In parallel, the project supports the Eritrean Government in improving its migration governance capacities. 


Strengthening cities for migration and development

15.10.2017 - 31.12.2021

Cities are the main destination for migrants worldwide. They play a crucial role in ensuring migrants’ social and economic inclusion and in leveraging migration as a source of innovation and prosperity. Switzerland aims at strengthening the evidence base on how to manage urban migration to maximize its development effects and at leveraging the voice and experience of cities in shaping effective migration policies. The project will involve Swiss cities and benefit from Swiss research expertise.


Programme Global Migration et Développement en Afrique de l‘Ouest (PGMD AO)

01.10.2017 - 31.12.2020

Le Programme Global Migration et Développement pour l’Afrique de l‘Ouest (PGMD-AO) vise à maximiser le potentiel de la migration pour le développement durable de la région. Dans cette 2ème Phase, il est prévu de contribuer au renforcement de la mobilité dans le cadre des processus d’intégration régionaux et de renforcer les dispositifs et mécanismes de protection des personnes en mobilité transfrontalière, en particulier les enfants.

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