Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Burundi are good and focus mainly on development cooperation on the one hand and Switzerland's involvement in the Burundian peace process on the other.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Burundi
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Swiss diplomacy in Burundi focuses primarily on development and peacebuilding. Switzerland has a cooperation office there and runs a cooperation programme for the Great Lakes region (Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda).
Switzerland has set out a strategy for sub-Saharan Africa for 2021–24. In the Great Lakes region, which includes Burundi, Switzerland works mainly in peacebuilding and fundamental human rights promotion. Switzerland promotes quality basic education and vocational education and training, thus fostering job creation.
Economic relations between Switzerland and Burundi are very limited. Burundian goods exported to Switzerland are mainly textiles. Graphic arts products, industrial machinery and precision instruments account for the lion's share of Swiss exports to Burundi.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Burundi can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Measures to promote peace and human security
In Burundi, Switzerland is committed to violence prevention and to work promoting respect for human rights. By promoting democratic dialogue, Switzerland contributes to the peacebuilding process and to the country's inclusive development. To this end, Switzerland works with national institutions, civil society, and international organisations. The Swiss chairmanship of the Burundi Configuration at the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission provides an additional platform for supporting peace in Burundi.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
As part of the regional strategy for the Great Lakes region (Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda), Switzerland is committed to peace, stability, poverty reduction, and the protection of the civilian population. It helps bolster democratic processes, respect for human rights, social cohesion, and job creation, especially for young people. Through the coordinated use of foreign policy instruments – diplomacy, development aid, peace and human rights promotion, humanitarian aid – Switzerland aims to strengthen the capacities of the people in the region.
Swiss citizens in Burundi
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 82 Swiss citizens were living in Burundi at the end of 2020 and 345 Burundian citizens were living in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Burundi as a sovereign state on the day it declared independence in 1962. There was a Swiss consulate in Bujumbura from 1972 to 1990.
A bilateral development cooperation agreement was signed in 1969. It has allowed Switzerland to invest in various projects related to infrastructure, crafts, health, social housing and agriculture.
The massacres of 1972 and 1988 led to the suspension of Swiss development assistance, which was limited to humanitarian aid from the 1990s onwards. In 2006, Burundi was included in the new development cooperation programme for the Great Lakes region of East Africa.