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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SDC - ECDPM Partnership 2017-2020: Promoting PCSD concept work and implementation

01.10.2017 - 31.12.2020

The 2030 Agenda calls for joint actions across national borders, economic sectors and cultures for managing global risks and achieving a transition towards global sustainable development. As stipulated in the Agenda 2030 and resumed in the dispatch on Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2017-20, policy coherence for (sustainable) development will play a key role as a means of implementation. The SDC –ECDPM Partnership aims at providing analysis, policy solutions, and practical support to implement them, to SDC and development partners in general.



Intervention en santé mentale et soutien psychosocial pour les migrants au Niger

15.08.2017 - 28.02.2019

2016 environ 200,000 migrants sont passés par le Niger sur l’axe Niger-Lybie/Algérie. Ces migrants sont souvent exposés à des violations graves des droits de l’homme et des traumas. Seule une petite proportion des migrants bénéficie d’une forme d’assistance couvrant les besoins essentiels (santé, abri, nourriture). Une réponse aux traumatismes subis est quasi inexistante. Par ce co-financement, la Suisse contribue donc au renforcement d’une réponse santé mentale/psychosociale ainsi que d’autres services de protection pour les migrants au Niger pour préserver leur bien-être et le potentiel de développement humain.



Contribution to the KFPE - Science-Policy-Practice Dialogue

01.07.2017 - 31.12.2020

The Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) is the central Swiss information, exchange and learning platform for research collaboration in and with the global South. During this transition phase, SDC’s support to KFPE will facilitate co-creation of synthetic evidence and debates on selected contemporary global challenges and enable KFPE to (re)position its 11 principles in the context of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.



SSD IOM: Regional Information and Coordination Mechanisms for South Sudanese Displacement Dynamics

01.02.2017 - 30.08.2018

Continued conflict, food insecurity and a dire economic situation have increased the scale of displacement both within and outside the country to unprecedented levels, with many sheltering in UN POCS or crossing to neighbouring countries. For humanitarians to be able to respond to the needs of these populations, a better understanding of the displacement dynamics and trends must be developed. IOM’s proposed project will help create a better understanding of the displacement dynamics and trends and enable humanitarians to effectively respond to needs of the populations.


BiH Diaspora Plattform

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2019

Das Projekt schaff den Rahmen für einen relevanten Beitrag der BiH Diaspora in der Schweiz an die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung, die Demokratiebildung sowie die Stärkung der sozialen Kohäsion im Herkunftsland, da sich ein signifikanter Teil der BiH Diaspora in der Schweiz aufhält. Eine ethnisch und konfessionell unabhängige BiH Diaspora Plattform kann eine doppelte Brückenfunktion sowohl innerhalb der heterogenen BiH Diaspora als auch im fragmentierten Gefüge von BiH haben.


Projet Oriental Protection Migrants Maroc

01.01.2017 - 31.03.2018

Morocco is a country of transit and destination for migrants and refugees, 20’000 of which live on the margins of society, despite the 2014 adopted first ever migration strategy, promising the respect of human rights and access to public services. The “Projet Oriental” facilitates access to health care and provides humanitarian support to 5’600 vulnerable migrants per year and coaches public and civil society service providers to care for the specific needs of the migrants.


Educational facilities for the Internally Displaced and street children

10.12.2016 - 31.12.2019

The internally displaced youth living often as street children in the low-income neighbourhoods of the capital city Islamabad and are deprived from basic education and protection services. The Mashal school educates IDP children from all over the country with a majority from KP and FATA, offers them a protective space, advises / counsels them on cultural, social and legal issues and help them to register under the government system by that laying the basis for future livelihood possibilities.


Mainstreaming the Concept of Migration and Development into Strategies, Policies and Actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Diaspora for Development (D4D)

05.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

About 2 million BiH citizens reside outside their country of origin. They retain strong connections with their homeland, and many of them are interested in contributing to its development with skills, know-how and financial investment. Switzerland supports BiH (in both entities and Brčko district) in creating a favorable environment for leveraging diaspora’s human and financial capital (as investors, providers of know-how and networkers) for the development of the country, thus contributing to economic growth, employment and income.


Migration Network Activities

01.03.2016 - 30.06.2020

The SDC Migration network provides the platform to share knowledge and experience on programmes, efforts and global developments in the field of migration and development at operational and policy dialogue level. It constitutes the framework to support activities contributing to the different network components, hence contributing to increase sharing of knowledge and enhanced connections among stakeholders.

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