No development without human rights

Rohingya children playing with a doll at a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
The SDC gives high priority to protecting the rights of vulnerable groups such as the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. © Anna Dubuis / DFID

Sustainable development is only possible if fundamental human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, and the rule of law are respected. These rights form the basis of international cooperation. This is why the promotion of human rights is a key issue for the SDC.

SDC focus

The realization of human rights is a foreign policy objective anchored in the Federal Constitution. Swiss human rights foreign policy focuses on the following three priorities:

  • The protection and promotion of civil and political rights, for example access to justice free of discrimination and participation in political processes
  • The protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education or health
  • The protection of the rights of especially vulnerable groups.

The SDC contributes to the implementation of the human rights policy by promoting the rights of the poor and supporting governments in their efforts to respect, protect and promote these rights. SDC's programmes on fighting poverty actively promote human rights.

Working with the human rights approach

The SDC works with a human-rights-based approach. In addition to international standards, which give legitimacy to development cooperation, the SDC promotes the following human rights principles:

  • Equal rights and non-discrimination
  • Participation and support in asserting human rights (empowerment)
  • Responsibility for human rights violations, accountability and redress
  • Indivisibility and universality.

The SDC undertakes to systematically include questions of rights, for example in the fields of migration or labour law, in its programmes in all its partner countries. It uses a human rights approach to help people ("rights holders") to exercise and demand their rights. At the same time, it assists state and non-state institutions ("duty bearers") in their efforts to adhere to their obligation to ensure respect for and the protection of human rights.

Strengthening state institutions and promoting the rights of vulnerable groups

Fragility, armed conflicts and human rights violations – which tend to become mutually reinforcing like in a vicious cycle – hinder the fight against poverty. In most cases, fragile states cannot guarantee basic services, including protection against human rights violations. For this reason, the SDC helps its partner countries strengthen their state structures, thus enabling them to better fulfil their human rights obligations.

In Tajikistan, for example, the SDC supports reforms to strengthen rights-assistance services, the main beneficiaries of which are women whose husbands have gone to other countries to work. In Albania, with the assistance of the SDC, a comprehensive and sustainable social-protection system has been put in place to improve the social integration of the Roma community. In Bolivia, the SDC supports the national ombudsman's office for human rights, and seeks to address the concerns of the indigenous populations. In Afghanistan, the SDC assists women's organisations, and in Honduras it helps protect human rights defenders.

With these projects, the SDC promotes the rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, strengthens civil society and promotes the establishment of state institutions.

Examining states' human rights commitment

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the most important human rights conventions of the United Nations together form a broad-based regulatory framework for international human rights protection. One of the strengths of this frame of reference is its universality: human rights are valid worldwide. The majority of states have ratified the most important human rights conventions. Nevertheless, many states do not adhere to their obligations.

For this reason, the UN has set up a number of monitoring mechanisms. In the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN member states are obliged to report regularly on their current domestic human rights situation. Through the UPR, civil society now has a voice at the international level and can reach the general public. The SDC supports these efforts. For example, it has enabled Pakistani journalists to express their positions on the Pakistani government's state report. In Afghanistan, it supports the justice ministry in implementing the UN's recommendations.

Current projects

Object 61 – 65 of 65

RCA: UNICEF Sous-cluster protection de l’enfance

01.06.2015 - 30.06.2017

Par son appui financier au Sous-cluster protection de l’enfance, la DDC souhaite contribuer au renforcement du système de coordination en RCA, pour assurer une réponse de protection coordonnée pour les enfants affectés par la crise. Ce soutien rentre par ailleurs dans le cadre de la stratégie de la protection de civils (PoC), et plus spécifiquement dans le plan d’action du DFAE pour la protection des enfants associés aux forces et groupes armés.


Mainstreaming Social Accountability in Mongolia (MASAM)

social-accountability

01.05.2015 - 30.06.2020

The project aims to mainstream social accountability for more transparent, accountable and effective public resource management at national and local levels by (1) increasing the capacity of CSOs to hold government to account; and (2) strengthening the institutionalization of social accountability by improving the effectiveness, formalization and sustainability of disclosure and participation mechanisms. Through social accountability, citizens in poor localities will have increased access to public decision-making processes and quality services.


Alternative Nobel Prize

01.05.2015 - 30.04.2020

The Right Livelihood Award (RLA) or so-called “Alternative Nobel Prize” is bestowed to individuals that offer concrete solutions to global challenges including sustainable development and poverty eradication. The contribution of SDC aims to establish a second RLA Foundation office in Geneva which will allow the RLA Foundation and the laureates to reach out and better network with the Geneva-based UN organizations, civil society, research community and media.


PEGIN - Promoción de la Equidad de Género con Incidencia Nacional

01.04.2015 - 30.06.2021

Formada por seis organizaciones cubanas la plataforma PEGIN busca incidir en políticas nacionales para promover procesos políticos y sociales a favor de la igualdad de género y para evitar que las reformas actuales no crean nuevas discriminaciones. Además, el proyecto contribuye a incorporar los principios de igualdad de género en todo el programa de COSUDE (transversalización).


Governance Facility (GF)

01.10.2014 - 30.06.2020

People in Nepal still suffer from weak public accountability, lack of rule of law and prevailing impunity. Switzerland, Denmark and DFID have established a sector-wide multi-donor basket facility to support public and private institutions in the governance sector, aiming at improving the rule of law, access to justice for marginalized men and women, the protection of human rights and at strengthening public accountability mechanisms for the most vulnerable people in Nepal.

Object 61 – 65 of 65