Principles of cooperation

Swiss international cooperation has set itself clear principles in order to accomplish its mandate.  First and foremost, this means collaborating with local partners and institutions in a spirit of mutual respect with a view to reducing poverty and global risks efficiently and sustainably.

Promoting structural conditions and global policies conducive to development

Switzerland does everything it can to ensure that the conditions for effective global development and international cooperation are met.  It promotes increased responsibility for authorities and civil society in partner countries and it endeavours to obtain fair and favourable legal conditions for the private sector and non-governmental organisations. It promotes sustainable and global management of issues relating to water, food security, climate, health and migration, and it lobbies for green economic growth.

Since official development assistance is just one of several sources of funding available to developing countries, Switzerland now channels part of its resources into mobilising other much larger investments. Switzerland’s financial assistance has to create a leveraging effect to ensure that the needs of the poorest individuals and communities are taken into account over the long term.  

Ensuring maximum efficiency

Project planning, implementation and supervision focus on results and real improvements in the living conditions of the beneficiaries of international cooperation.  All aspects of sustainability are taken into account: social, economic, environmental as well as governance and equality between women and men.

Switzerland works with governments, donor countries and multilateral organisations.  It also favours the involvement of civil society and the private sector.

The agencies active in Switzerland’s international cooperation aim to coordinate their activities with other donors in compliance with the principles of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. On the strength of its experience, Switzerland actively participates in efforts to improve international cooperation practices with a view to ensuring that its development cooperation is effective. In the area of humanitarian aid, Switzerland also endeavours to improve coordination between the different actors.


Adding value, developing and sharing know-how and experience

Helping others to help themselves remains the leitmotif of Switzerland’s engagement.  From this standpoint, Switzerland provides its assistance in those areas where it possesses substantial know-how.  Switzerland deploys the expertise of the SDC, SECO, the Human Security Division of the FDFA and other areas of the Federal Administration, as well as of private businesses, research institutes and civil society.  Switzerland endeavours to harness local knowledge to the benefit of developing countries and to share its own experience with them.

Institutional learning and networking

Capacity development in partner countries

Working as partners in mutual respect

In its actions, Swiss international cooperation recognises and respects the world’s different cultures and religions.  It works with the people, institutions and political forces in its partner countries, whilst emphasising respect for the rule of law and human rights.  These partnerships rely on shared values and objectives, relationships of trust and a desire for transparency.

Working with public authorities

In most cases, international cooperation with state authorities is important and necessary because the partner states cannot ensure a form of prospering socio-economic development that is accessible to all.  Where, in any such country, human rights are swept aside or the necessary conditions for the rule of law and democracy are not in place, Switzerland reviews its engagement at government level.

Depending on the particular situation, Switzerland enters into political dialogue with the government concerned with a view to making reforms or improving socio-economic conditions.  This dialogue takes place in full respect for Switzerland’s neutrality. This is a specific prerogative of the agencies representing the Swiss government in the area of international cooperation and complements the work of NGOs on the ground.

Partnerships with state institutions 

Good governance

Switzerland promotes respect for human rights and good governance in every one of its projects and programmes as well as in its political dialogue.  The latter targets the quality of government and public administration, and compliance with the obligation to accountability.  This requires the legal system to be independent of the state. It implies the existence of the rule of law, a democratic system and fair regulatory framework for both private and public enterprises.  Transparency and liability for corruption are of vital importance.

Advocacy and Good Governance

Equality between women and men

Switzerland’s efforts towards poverty reduction go hand in hand with its commitment to equality between the sexes.  It condemns discrimination against women, whether relating to work, education, their rights, or attacks on their physical integrity.  When promoting equality between the sexes, Switzerland’s international cooperation adopts an approach with careful regard for cultural and contextual specificities.

Gender Equality