Its findings are for the most part positive: Switzerland is a strong and reliable development partner. The Committee has made new recommendations to Switzerland to enable it to meet the challenges ahead. Among other measures, it calls on Switzerland to focus on its commitments and to work towards spending 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA).
Every five years, the 30 members of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), including Switzerland, undergo a peer review of the effectiveness, financing and functioning of their international cooperation. The DAC's findings are compiled in a report that assesses the current situation and makes a series of recommendations on how member states can improve the effectiveness of their cooperation activities and see how well they are performing compared to their peers.
The report on Switzerland's international cooperation, published on 5 April 2019, notes first of all that since the previous review in 2013, Switzerland has fully or partially implemented 93% of the recommendations it received from the DAC. This excellent result exceeds the average of DAC member states.
The DAC noted a number of Swiss strengths in international cooperation, including its ability to pursue innovative projects and partnerships, and its strong humanitarian tradition. Switzerland's expertise allows it to make a valuable contribution to efforts to address global challenges such as climate change, especially through multilateralism. The DAC also praised Switzerland's results-oriented approach and the mechanisms it has in place to ensure the quality of its programmes and to protect itself against risks.
The DAC's latest report contains new recommendations – intended as best practice guidelines – for Switzerland to meet the challenges ahead. It recommends, for example, that Switzerland tighten its focus on its geographic and thematic commitments. The DAC therefore welcomes the Federal Council's decision of 30 November 2018 that the upcoming Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2021–24 would focus the bilateral cooperation activities on four priority regions. The DAC also recommends that Switzerland ensure its development programmes remain focused on the goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development. In light of the fact that Switzerland's official development assistance (ODA) declined to 0.46% of its gross national income (GNI) in 2017, the CAD considers that Switzerland should honour the commitment undertaken by the Swiss Parliament to allocate 0.5% of GNI to ODA and to make every effort to further increase this amount.
This review of Switzerland's international cooperation was conducted by DAC peers Denmark and Portugal at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). DAC representatives also met with FDFA head Ignazio Cassis, officials from several federal agencies, non-state actors (NGOs and the private sector), parliamentarians, and the Advisory Committee on International Cooperation. After a one-week visit to Bern in September 2018, members of the DAC travelled to Ukraine to observe Switzerland's international cooperation activities in a country of intervention.
This review of Swiss practices and the recommendations it makes are particularly timely, given that the new Federal Council Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2021–24 is currently being drafted.