The Democracy Without Borders initiative associates nationally and internationally renowned Swiss personalities with development projects aimed at strengthening democracy, peace and human rights. These collaborations will help to raise awareness of the challenges which need addressing among people in Switzerland and in Switzerland’s partner countries alike.
Offering personal expertise to support a development cooperation project? That is exactly what the Democracy Without Borders initiative does.
The principle is simple: a nationally or internationally renowned Swiss personality agrees to become the ambassador for a Swiss development cooperation project. In the course of supporting the project, the personality will employ his or her expertise to raise awareness with the relevant parties and sectors not only “in situ” but also in Switzerland. Former politicians, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, it is an additional advantage that the personalities come from such varied backgrounds.
The projects that have been selected come from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Human Security Division (HSD) of the FDFA. Their main goal is to strengthen democracy, peace and human rights. The Democracy without Borders initiative – which was launched by the head of the FDFA, Didier Burkhalter, on 10 August 2014 – will last until 2018.
Support for the democratic transition process in Tunisia
Switzerland supports the democratic transition process in Tunisia through various projects implemented by the SDC and the HSD. Project ambassadors, mostly former Swiss politicians, undertake to meet Tunisian members of parliament and political party representatives to impart their experience and best practice. With this same objective of democracy in mind, Switzerland supports the local and national press in Tunisia so that it may report the changes taking place across the country in a transparent manner.
Promotion of dual vocational education and training in Honduras and Myanmar
In the underprivileged regions of Honduras and Myanmar, vocational training and the income it generates can free young people from violence and the vicious cycle of poverty. The SDC is establishing training of this type in the tourism and construction sectors. The long-term goal is to integrate dual vocational education and training into the professional training systems of Honduras and Myanmar.
Project participants will be involved in developing adapted teaching methods, as well as awareness-raising campaigns in Honduras and training courses in Switzerland. Switzerland is currently cooperating on a project in Honduras and plans to extend similar cooperation projects to Myanmar in 2016.
14–19 September 2014: A delegation of two from Honduras took part in the International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Winterthur and payed a visit to the vocational training centre of the firm Schindler AG in Ebikon. The delegation also had the opportunity to discuss challenges in the vocational training sector at a VIP dinner with the two project ambassadors, Christoph Lindenmeyer and Peter Arbenz, as well as specialists from Eastern Europe including the Serbian minister of education, science and technological development.
Support for women victims of violence in the Great Lakes region (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi)
Every year, in the provinces of North and South Kivu, several thousand women are the victims of sexual violence in armed conflict. Switzerland accommodates these women in centres established in South Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo), Rwanda and Burundi. It provides them with medical, psychological, legal and reintegration support.
The project ambassadors help to fight against the impunity of the perpetrators of these acts by organising conferences in Switzerland and in the regions concerned. They establish local and Swiss networks to bolster justice in this field.
From music to sustainable development: cultural exchanges along the Nile
There are many environmental and social challenges facing the Nile: increasing population in the 11 states it flows through, degradation of its ecosystem and geopolitical tensions over access to water and hydropower in particular. Moreover, the world's longest river is is struggling to be recognised as a global ecosystem that needs common solutions.
The Nile Project is cultural and educational. Its goal is to raise awareness of sustainable development among people living in the countries along the Nile and encourage them to develop solutions together. The exchanges are carried out using music (during concerts advocating for the conservation of the Nile), in the form of workshops between local and national NGOs, and via events in universities. All these initiatives serve to increase cooperation between citizens and create a dynamic network along the Nile. Swiss ambassadors for the project take part in organising these different activities.