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Bern, Press release, 15.02.2012

On 15 February 2012, the Federal Council transmitted to Parliament the Message on Switzerland’s International Cooperation in the period 2013 – 16. For the first time, the Message describes in one document the tasks of humanitarian aid, development cooperation, economic and trade policy measures within the framework of development cooperation, and cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe. While the principal objective of development cooperation remains poverty reduction, in the future, Switzerland plans to work more closely in fragile contexts and to contribute to overcoming global challenges which seriously worsen the prospects of poor countries.

For the last 50 years, in accordance with the task of foreign policy as defined in the Federal Constitution, the Swiss Confederation has supported the efforts of poor countries to overcome humanitarian crises and to deal with the problems of poverty and under-development. In many cases, the developing countries have made considerable progress. Nevertheless, today, around two billion people are still living on less than two dollars a day. Moreover, in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the democratic and constitutional reforms have not yet been concluded. Regional instability can also have negative effects for Switzerland, for example in terms of illegal migration and security.

The Federal Council is convinced that strong international cooperation is essential for countries like Switzerland that are closely interconnected at the global level. Switzerland contributes to overcoming poverty-related problems and global risks both for reasons of solidarity and out of self-interest. Switzerland’s security, high standard of living and quality of life depend to a large extent on developments in other regions of the world.

International cooperation encompasses humanitarian aid (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC), technical cooperation and financial aid (SDC), economic and trade policy measures in the framework of development cooperation (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO), and cooperation with Eastern Europe (SDC and SECO). For the first time ever, the Federal Council has submitted to Parliament the corresponding framework credit lines within a single document.

Switzerland’s international cooperation aims to prevent crises, conflicts and disasters and to overcome their negative effects on human populations; it also aims to improve access to resources and services for poor population groups, promote sustainable development, support the transition to democratic and market systems, as well as assist in shaping a form of globalisation that encourages development, and is both environmentally friendly and socially acceptable. 

In addition, Switzerland intends to focus its support more strongly on countries and regions where state structures are fragile or lacking, because weak governments, inadequate legal security and corruption exacerbate poverty-related problems. Switzerland’s contribution is to be more strongly oriented towards overcoming global risks because developing countries are especially vulnerable to hazards that are not confined to national borders such as climate change, the lack of food and water security or health care facilities, migration, and economic instability. With its six global programmes Switzerland brings innovative solutions to new global challenges, and it influences the negotiation of international rules that also affect Switzerland’s future prospects.  

In February 2011, Parliament decided to raise the resources it makes available for public development aid to 0.5 per cent of gross national product (GDP) by 2015, which places Switzerland in mid-field among OECD countries (OECD average in 2010: 0.49 %). An obligatory amount of CHF 11.35 billion has been budgeted for the 2013 -16 period corresponding with this parliamentary target. In 2010, the resources committed to PDA amounted to about 3 per cent of the Swiss Confederation’s expenditure.

Further questions:
Martin Fässler, Chief of Staff of the Swiss Agency for Development and Coooperation, SDC, Tel. +41 (0)31 322 34 23
Daniel Birchmeier, Head of Strategy, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO, Tel. +41 (0)31 324 08 99

Further information:

Message to Switzerland’s International Cooperation 2013 – 2016 (de)
Brochure version in English: The Key Points in Brief
Factsheet: International Cooperation
Switzerland’s Activities in International Cooperation 2006 - 2010 (DE)
Brochure: Economic Cooperation and Development – SECO takes stock

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