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

Object 37 – 41 of 41

Ashshash – for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.09.2015 - 14.11.2022

Human trafficking deprives millions of their dignity and freedom. It is estimated that thousands are trafficked every year in Bangladesh. Switzerland has an interest that international migration is regular, secure, and respects human dignity and the rights of migrants. The project will support men and women who have escaped trafficking to reintegrate into society, raise awareness on the perils of irregular migration and improve public and private capacities to deliver services to the victims of trafficking. The intervention is beneficial for Switzerland’s political dialogue on safe, orderly and regular migration at the global level.


Programme Development North Africa

01.07.2015 - 30.06.2020

Originally conceived to support the development of activities under the Swiss North Africa Programme launched from scratch in 2011, the 5th phase with a much reduced budget allows deepening relevant thematic and context knowledge, developing and formulating future strategic priorities and setting-up adapted or new projects for SDC in a fragile and complex environment. For 2015-16 the focus is on preparatory work for the Swiss North Africa programme 2017-20.


International Dialogue on Migration and Development

01.05.2015 - 31.12.2019

The international dialogue on migration and development subsumes different global processes and activities by a number of key stakeholders. In this context, the debate on migration and development has evolved rapidly and has generated outcomes that improve the protection of migrants and enhance their development contribution. Switzerland has played a significant role in this process. SDC will continue supporting relevant initiatives, institutions and partners to further strengthen the global governance on migration and development.


Decent work for migrants in the Middle East

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019

The Middle East attracts high numbers of migrants from South/South East Asia. While migrants constitute an important contribution to the Gulf State economies and the development of their countries of origin, they remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse along the migration chain. This programme builds on gains made during its first phase and seeks to improve legal frameworks and their implementation in favour of decent work conditions for migrants. The approach combines operational support to migrants, capacity building of national and civil society actors with regional and global policy dialogue efforts.


Institutional Strengthening of IGAD

31.05.2014 - 31.12.2020

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a sub-regional organization in the Horn of Africa. In line with Switzerland’s decision to increase its engagement with IGAD, the proposed contribution aims at strengthening the organization institutionally based on its political legitimacy, thematic relevance and capacity to contribute to peace and development in one of the world’s most fragile regions.

Object 37 – 41 of 41