Switzerland's international cooperation is part of our country's long humanitarian tradition as a committed and responsible global player. It is based on Article 54 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution and the associated federal acts. This commitment is also in Switzerland's own interests, as our prosperity and security depend on the international environment. The 2017-20 Dispatch sets out a response to the challenges posed by poverty, conflict and global risks. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by UN member states in September 2015 is an important guide in this area.
With the dispatch, the Federal Council is responding to the ongoing crises, armed conflicts, poverty and hunger, violent extremism, degradation of the environment, climate change and high number of displaced persons worldwide. In addition to humanitarian aid, development cooperation with developing countries, economic and trade-policy measures and transition cooperation with Eastern Europe, the promotion of peace and human security is also included in the overall strategy for the first time. The accountability report documents the highly effective nature of the projects and programmes featured in the current dispatch period (2013-16). The present dispatch continues the work on the basis of these results and of Switzerland's specific experience and expertise, taking into account current and long-term challenges.
The 2017-20 Dispatch focuses on areas in which Switzerland provides added value and has particular credibility:
- Switzerland will work to mitigate the effects of current conflicts and to seek solutions, stepping up humanitarian aid in conflict zones, in particular emergency aid. Among other things, this will enable more effective assistance and protection for the millions of refugees in the Middle East and help to create more dignified living conditions for these people in their own and neighbouring countries. Switzerland will do more to make available its many years of experience in mediation, facilitation and good offices with a view to finding political solutions to conflicts, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and OSCE countries. It will strengthen its commitment to peace, security and human rights.
- Cooperation in fragile contexts will be strengthened. This long-term task entails tackling the causes of fragility: social and political exclusion, increasing use of violence, insufficient economic opportunities and the absence of the rule of law and of mechanisms for remedying injustices peacefully. The activities aim to strengthen governance, improve framework conditions for the private sector and transform institutions so that they provide the services required for the entire population.
- Reducing poverty and inequality remains at the heart of Swiss development cooperation. The 2017-20 Dispatch aims to provide more prospects and opportunities, particularly to young people, thanks to better education and training and a dynamic private sector that will create jobs and so offer alternatives to migration. Basic education and vocational training will be strengthened. According to current estimates, in the 2017–20 period available financial resources are expected to amount to CHF 630 million, representing a 50% increase over the 2013–16 period, and sustainable, inclusive economic growth will be further promoted. Switzerland will be a committed champion of equal rights for girls and women.
- Working to mitigate global risks – climate change, degradation of the environment, issues surrounding access to water, food security, health as well as economic and financial crises – will remain a focus of Swiss international cooperation. In the future, international cooperation will weigh the environmental dimension into its activities more strongly, in particular through activities in areas where synergies exist between poverty reduction and environmental aspects. For example, approximately CHF 300 million per year have been earmarked to help limit further climate change, corresponding to approximately 12.5% of the funding for international cooperation for the 2017–20 period.
- International cooperation will mobilise all of its instruments to respond more flexibly to the needs that exist in its partner countries and to acquire greater critical mass so as to provide leadership and influence policies. It will also strengthen its partnerships, in particular with the private sector. Switzerland will enhance its leverage role and galvanising influence by encouraging reforms and other sources of financing for development in its partner countries. Multilateral cooperation, for example with the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme, will remain a key pillar, making it possible to reach even more people worldwide and achieve greater impact. As the home to prominent institutions, Switzerland will also consolidate the key role played by the International Geneva.
Migration is an important aspect of international cooperation. Switzerland will deploy all its instruments to deal with this issue and take both the opportunities and the challenges of migration into account. On the one hand, international cooperation addresses migration issues directly by assisting and protecting in particular refugees and internally displaced persons in their home regions, as well as by promoting migrants' contribution to development. The financial resources deployed for this purpose, especially for humanitarian aid, can of course vary depending on the crises and conflicts taking place at any particular time. Currently, the resources are estimated at approximately 5% of the total amount for the 2017–20 period.
It also operates indirectly through its long-term action to tackle the factors that force people to migrate, such as conflict, poverty, the lack of economic prospects, arbitrary rule, human rights violations and the effects of climate change. It thereby helps to create alternatives by improving living conditions in affected areas and offering prospects to local people. In this sense, the activities in fragile contexts can be understood to be an indirect contribution. They are estimated to account for about 14% of the total available resources for international cooperation for the 2017–20 period.
International cooperation also supports efforts to prevent violent extremism, for example by giving young people prospects or by addressing the root causes of conflict such as social and political exclusion, discrimination and underemployment. It helps to ensure that each and every individual can live in an environment in which they enjoy food security as well as economic, environmental social and political security, thereby complementing Switzerland's efforts to combat threats to peace, the security of states and international stability. Furthermore, Switzerland seeks, wherever possible and appropriate, to combine its development work with defending its own interests in relation to migration. Migration partnerships are one example of this.
The amount committed under the five blanket credits for the 2017–2020 period is approximately CHF 11 billion. In 2015, the level of official development assistance (ODA) reached the target set by Parliament, namely 0.5% of gross national income. Current estimates suggest that it should stand at 0.48% by 2020.
As part of the dispatch, the Federal Council is submitting the renewal of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe to Parliament for approval. This bill renews the legal basis for cooperation with the states of Eastern Europe until 31 December 2024. It will continue to include the legal basis for Switzerland's contribution to reducing economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union. However, this does not prejudge any future decision on a possible renewal of the Swiss contribution. The Federal Council will only submit such a proposal to Parliament based on the development of our overall relations with the EU and only if that development is positive.
The Federal Council has also approved the dispatch on Switzerland's participation in the second capital increase of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, part of a reform within the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. This involves a guarantee credit of CHF 21.7 million, extending the bank’s activities to promote the private sector in Latin America.
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