Development cooperation and humanitarian aid from the UN

At the start of the new century the UN set itself the specific objective of halving the number of poor throughout the world by 2015. This is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed by heads of state and government at the Millennium Summit in September 2000. The UN’s efforts to reduce the gap between poor and rich also contribute to global security. Peace and security, development and human rights - the pillars of the UN system and the basis for collective security and the common good - are closely linked and mutually strengthen each other.

In addition to the UN General Assembly it is above all the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that addresses the economic, social and environmental aspects of development. Switzerland was last a member of ECOSOC in 2011/2012.

The United Nations has created a number of Organs, Programmes and Specialized Agencies to deal with its many different tasks, including the following: 

  • UN Development Programme (UNDP) 
  • UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 
  • UN Population Fund (UNFPA) 
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 
  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
  • World Food Programme (WFP) 
  • Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 
  • World Health Organization (WHO) 
  • Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 
  • Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
  • UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations is itself active in the field through aid programmes and educational work, while at the same time coordinating the efforts of the various players and operations.

Switzerland – a major donor country

In recent years Switzerland has channelled around 40% of its public development aid through international organizations. It is one of the most important providers of funds for the UN’s most significant development programmes. The underlying reason for this is the recognition that major development problems can only be effectively addressed on a multilateral basis, i.e. through the joint efforts of the international community.

Switzerland makes financial contributions and participates actively in the executive organs of these organizations. Most Swiss public funds for development are reserved for bilateral projects, which however are coordinated with UN programmes.