Human Security is a key instrument of Swiss foreign policy in Nigeria and concentrates on the security of the individuals, their protection and empowerment. It draws attention to a wide range of challenges interfacing between security, development and human rights and therefore promotes an integrated, coordinated and people-centered approach to advancing peace, security and development.
Since 2011, Nigeria and Switzerland have been holding annual rounds of bilateral human rights dialogues and consultations. Thematic priorities have to date primarily been set on key civil and political rights of mutual interest, enabling constructive exchanges between the two countries on human rights challenges and best practices, both domestically and in the multilateral fora. This dialogue has enabled a more intense diplomatic activity and profiling of Switzerland in the field of human security and human rights, both with the Nigerian authorities and in coordination with the international community.
The human rights dialogues are complemented by technical support, in the form of operational projects carried out in partnership with Nigerian government agencies, parastatals and/or civil society organizations. To date, projects in Nigeria have mainly focused on issues revolving around human rights and policing, access to justice, the provision of legal aid services, business and human rights, and general human rights awareness.
Main Nigerian partners include, among others, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Human Rights Commission, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Prisons Service, and a number of civil society organizations.
Peace & Security
Peaceful coexistence of peoples is one of Switzerland’s five main foreign policy objectives. Within the framework of the “Strategic Axes for Switzerland’s Commitment in the Sahel: 2019-2023” – inclusive of Nigeria – Switzerland aims to support, accompany, and / or facilitate processes of strategic political relevance, which contribute to the prevention of violence, the transformation of conflicts, and improved governance and social cohesion through inclusive dialogue and appropriate local, national, regional, and multilateral initiatives. This is implemented through the provision of technical and methodological competences, financial support, as well as by supporting the strengthening of capacities based on local expertise and know-how available in the region.
In addition to providing its good offices for inclusive and solution-oriented dialogue / mediation processes, Switzerland also contributes to preventive efforts - for instance in the field of ideologically driven violent extremism or around elections – as well as post-conflict stabilization engagements, for instance in the field of dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities. These activities require a diversified and complementary collaboration with governments, civil society and international organizations, as well as support to Nigerian and West African networks of peace actors.
Due to limited human and financial capacities, and in coherence with its other regional activities in neighboring Sahelian countries, Switzerland’s above-mentioned bilateral peace and securit-y-related engagements in Nigeria focus mainly – though not exclusively - on the country’s North East / Lake Chad Basin area. A Senior Political Adviser based in Abuja is responsible for overall implementation of the program.
Human Security in ECOWAS
Being the Swiss Representation accredited to the ECOWAS Commission, the Embassy actively follows developments in the West Africa sub-region from a political, peace and security perspective.
This also translates into technical collaborations with the ECOWAS Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Department (PAPS), with particular support to the strengthening of civilian capacities in the management of conflicts and peace support operations in West Africa. Since 2010, Switzerland’s engagement has indeed contributed to the development of the Civilian Component of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) - one of five regional forces conceived under the African Peace and Security Architecture - to meet the needs of integrated, multidimensional, modern Peace Support Operations.
In addition, together with the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, the Embassy has since August 2012 been co-chairing the “Peace & Security Thematic Group”. The group acts as the prime institutional coordination mechanism between the ECOWAS Commission and Development Partners in the field of peace and security, putting the Embassy at the center of efforts to foster a conducive and sustainable partnership between ECOWAS and its international partners.
The Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency also provides substantial support to ECOWAS, particularly in the fields of migration and agriculture, though these programs are managed directly by the Swiss Cooperation Bureaus in Cotonou and Bamako respectively.