Switzerland’s foreign policy on migration

Switzerland's foreign policy on migration seeks to address all aspects of migration while also taking national interests into account. It has various instruments at its disposal to this end.

The basis of Switzerland's foreign policy on migration is the Report on International Cooperation on Migration, which the Federal Council took note of and approved in February 2011. In this document, Switzerland makes the following commitments:

  • Switzerland pursues a comprehensive approach to migration and endeavours to take account of the economic, social and cultural opportunities without losing sight of its challenges.
  • Switzerland encourages close partnerships between countries of origin, transit and destination, taking the interests of all stakeholders into account.
  • The offices responsible within the Federal Administration work together as part of a whole-of-government approach.             

Interdepartmental cooperation

Given the growing scale of international migration, Switzerland plays an active role in seeking solutions and developing support measures, in both its domestic and foreign policy. The activities carried out within the framework of Switzerland's migration policy are coordinated by an interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration (ICM structure). Established in 2011 by the Federal Council, this mainly involves the following bodies:

  • the Directorate of Political Affairs, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Directorate for European Affairs (DEA), part of the FDFA
  • the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Federal Office of Police (fedpol), part of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP)
  • the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), part of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER)

The Federal Council also appointed a special ambassador within the FDFA for development, forced displacement and migration, who represents Switzerland within international bodies.

Instruments of foreign policy on migration

Appropriate instruments are essential for a rigorous and coherent implementation of Switzerland's foreign policy on migration:

  • International and regional dialogues on migration

  • Migration partnerships with various countries

  • Programmes to strengthen the protection for refugees and migrants in their regions of origin ('Protection in the region')

  • Readmission agreements and cooperation agreements concerning migration