Switzerland participates in the Hague Conference on Afghanistan

Bern, Press releases, 31.03.2009

By its civil activity on behalf of the Afghani population and institutions, Switzerland is participating in the efforts of the international community in Afghanistan. Martin Dahinden Director of the SDC confirmed this commitment by Switzerland during the conference held in the Hague today 31 March 2009 at the joint invitation of Afghanistan, the Netherlands and the UN.

The Hague Conference aims to re-affirm, to strengthen and to co-ordinate better the international support for Afghanistan. On this occasion, the head of the Swiss delegation Martin Dahinden confirmed this political support, which goes hand in hand with a consolidation of its long-term civil commitment. He also reiterated the need to tackle the root causes of poverty, extremism and violence. Finally, he outlined the major challenges that still have to be faced and stressed the importance of human rights and of international humanitarian law.

Afghanistan is a country which benefits from a special programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Since 2002 the SDC has had a coordination office in Kabul, which has recently been strengthened. Its priorities are to improve the living conditions for Afghanis and to strengthen governance and protection. In SDC programmes, there is a particular emphasis on improving the situation of women. Switzerland is committed for example to strengthening the rule of law and human rights and provides support for local administration and humanitarian aid.

In addition to the SDC, the Political Directorate of the FDFA also supports activities in Afghanistan, for example in the field of culture. Since the withdrawal of Swiss soldiers from the FIAS/ISAF on 1 March 2008, Switzerland's activity in Afghanistan has been essentially civil. This contribution has amounted in the course of recent years to about CHF 20 million a year and should continue at this level (2009: CHF 19,7 million). In 2009, there will be a particular emphasis on support for the election process, with a contribution of CHF 2 million.

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