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 – 72 of 74

FarhangSara: Promotion of Cultural and Artistic Expressions

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2019

Through promotion of active citizen participation, in particular women and youth, in cultural activities, the project aims to strengthen shared and diverse values as well as peaceful interaction among people. It will collaborate with and enhance the capacity of public and private cultural and arts institutions and civil society organizations as well as female and male artists in five regions of Afghanistan.


Strengthening Human Rights Protection Mechanisms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

01.06.2016 - 31.12.2019

This project will improve the protection of rights of the people in KP by strengthening the provincial human rights protection mechanisms. This will be achieved by strengthening the capacity of line departments to manage the rights related responsibilities that were devolved from the federal to the provincial government, by developing a human rights policy, and by raising awareness among civil society on the protection responsibilities of the government. 


Strengthening the legislative in Africa through an institutional partnership with AWEPA

15.04.2016 - 15.04.2020

A travers un partenariat institutionnel avec AWEPA, la DDC contribue à promouvoir la paix et la stabilité dans les Grands Lacs en renforçant les capacités des institutions législatives et en soutenant les échanges entre parlementaires de la région, européens et suisses. Le Forum des parlementaires de la CIRGL[1], qui sert de pont avec les parlements nationaux dans la mise en œuvre, manque encore de capacités. Ce projet contribue au renforcement du Forum et à la mise en œuvre du Pacte[2] et permet une promotion de la bonne gouvernance au plus haut niveau.  

[1] Conférence Internationale pour la région des Grands Lacs, mis en place en 2000 par 11 pays de la région pour la médiation, la prévention et le règlement des conflits. 

[2] Pacte pour la paix, la sécurité, la stabilité et le développement signé par les 11 pays membres de la CIRGL.

 

 


Strengthening Rule of Law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

15.12.2015 - 31.12.2019

The Strengthening Rule of Law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) project aims to increase access to justice for the people, especially women and other vulnerable groups in KP, and support the government in its efforts to stabilise the region by strengthening the legal system. This project aims to support KP transition out of fragility by ‘establishing and strengthening people’s security’ and ‘addressing injustices’.


Contribution to the Cotton Reform Multi-Donors Trust Fund of the World Bank in Uzbekistan

01.09.2015 - 30.09.2020

The World Bank led multi-donor trust fund will contribute to a sustainable cotton reform by thoroughly monitoring child and forced labour during cotton harvest, building the capacities of relevant authorities in terms of international standards and legislaion, raising awareness of the population and the stakeholders' groups involved in cotton picking. This will feed into policy dialogue with the Government and eventually eradicate this harmful practice for the rural population.


Handicap International: Comprehensive action against Antipersonnel Mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in three departments of Colombia.

01.08.2015 - 31.05.2017

The five decades running armed conflict in Colombia continues to cause humanitarian needs such as internal displacement, landmine contamination and the recruitment of minors by armed groups. Departments of Nariño, Cauca and Cordoba, by geography serve as strategic corridor to the Pacific and Caribe for the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs, weapons and illegal mining among others, becoming scenario of social conflicts and armed confrontation. Rural communities in those departments are among the most affected by antipersonnel mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) which generate victims with poor access to physical and psychosocial services, as well as option for social, economic and educational inclusion.


Strengthening of civil-political-economic rights and social auditing

01.07.2015 - 30.04.2020

In Honduras, strengthening Human Rights (HR), transparency, and the fight against impunity are central to breaking out of the spiral of violence. The role of civil society constitutes an opportunity and at the same time a means to contribute to the construction of Rule of Law. The program supports five civil society organizations (CSO) and the UNDP, with presence in the southern region and Muskitia, so they can work together to promote social audits and protection of Human Rights.


Beitrag an den Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund

01.07.2015 - 31.12.2019

Der gewaltsame Extremismus wird als globale Bedrohung wahrgenommen. Die Schweiz leistet zusammen mit anderen Ländern einen Beitrag an den «Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund». Es ist eine von zahlreichen Massnahmen, um die globale Strategie der UNO umzusetzen. Der Fonds soll in Ländern, die von gewaltsamem Extremismus heimgesucht werden, lokale Initiativen von Organisationen unterstützen, um die Resilienz gegen Radikalisierung zu stärken. 


Programme de Renforcement des Capacités d'Action des Femmes (RECAFEM)

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2019

Le programme va poursuivre l’appui au Gouvernement du Bénin et aux organisations de la société civile pour réduire les inégalités femmes/hommes aux plans social, culturel, juridique et économique. Le personnel des Ministères sectoriels et des organisations aux niveaux macro et méso sera appuyé, afin de renforcer son engagement et ses compétences, dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre des politiques publiques et des initiatives et actions de développement en faveur des femmes.


WFP Secondment Protection and Gender Advisor

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2016

In Myanmar especially conflict affected and rural populations suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition; but also extreme weather conditions may increase the situation of food insecurity. In recent years there have been reports on protection gaps in the implementation of WFP programmes and women and children are struggling to receive support. The secondment will provide technical support in the domain of protection and gender to the WFP country program.


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.


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.

Object 61 – 72 of 74