Switzerland's foreign policy on migration: coherence for development

Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga in Sri Lanka.
Switzerland's migration partnership with Sri Lanka aims to strengthen human rights and creates prospects for young local generations by providing vocational skills development. ©FDJP

Migration is a complex phenomenon, which is why an effective foreign policy on migration deploys a range of different tools. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is part of the interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration and uses its experience to help meet Switzerland's foreign policy objectives on migration. It takes part in implementing migration partnerships through programmes it has developed with the involved countries. The SDC is committed to better migration management which builds on the economic, social and cultural opportunities arising from migration, and alleviates the associated suffering.

The SDC's focus

Managing migration effectively requires a variety of actors to work together in order to meet the diverse challenges involved. That is why Switzerland has for many years taken a whole-of-government approach in its migration policy (interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration or ICM structure).

The SDC's role in the ICM structure is to focus in particular on the link between migration and development, and on the SDC's operational experience.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration

The interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration (ICM structure), which was created by the Federal Council in February 2011, brings together key units from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). The structure ensures that activities related to Switzerland's foreign policy on migration are coordinated both at the strategic and operational level.

Interdepartmental structure for international cooperation on migration, SEM

Ensuring a common approach

The SDC works to ensure that its field experience and the international dialogue on migration are reflected in Switzerland's national debate on migration. It also supports reinforcing the coherence between migration policy and development policy, a principle which it implements in its own programmes.

Migration partnerships

In addition, the SDC contributes to the implementation of migration partnerships by developing programmes in Switzerland's partner countries. Such programmes have existed for more than ten years in Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.

Migration partnerships help strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of Switzerland's foreign policy on migration. They also facilitate constructive approaches to the challenges of migration, as well as how to exploit the opportunities it affords.

Background

Global migration has changed considerably in recent years. In fact, it has been diversified and globalised by increased mobility and access to information and the media. Although the underlying causes of migration – poverty, war, human rights violations, economic crises and climate change – remain basically unchanged, the scale and global implications of migration have made it more complex. This situation gives Switzerland new opportunities but also presents it with new challenges.

In response, Switzerland's foreign policy on migration is based on three basic principles:

  • A global approach to migration:
    migration is a global phenomenon that creates both risks and opportunities.
  • A partnership approach:
    the risks and opportunities generated by migration apply to the countries of origin, transit and destination.
  • A whole-of-government approach:
    in the area of migration, coherent action between the different departments of the Federal Administration is required.

Against this backdrop, Swiss development cooperation has done much to help address global migration. In the short term, Switzerland's development cooperation activities can contribute to mitigate the causes of forced displacement. In the medium term, its efforts in this area contribute to an increasingly regular and safe migration, as well as to improving the integration of forcibly displaced people in host countries in their region of origin. In the long term, Swiss development cooperation can contribute to the causes of irregular migration in a sustainable way, providing local people with prospects in their own countries and fighting the root causes of displacement through prevention work and strengthening governance in partner countries.

Implementation in Africa

The Horn of Africa is one of the world's regions with the highest levels of displacement. Switzerland has been working to protect refugees in the region for more than 20 years. It set up a strategic partnership with the only regional organisation in the Horn of Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). IGAD covers eight countries with a combined population of more than 280 million people.

Switzerland's support is both financial and technical (via a seconded expert) as well as political, and enables the eight countries in the region to improve their national and regional management of migration. It strengthens the countries' response to displacement caused by climate change-related disasters and facilitates mobility for migrants in the region by giving them employment prospects in the region. A protected migrant with a job can make a positive contribution to the development of their family, community, host country and country of origin.  

This strategic partnership is the first initiative co-financed by the three main actors in the Federal Administration working in the area of migration – the SDC, the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). It allows Switzerland to conduct a dialogue on migration with the eight countries in the Horn of Africa, which also takes into account Switzerland's foreign and domestic policy interests.

Current projects

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Enhance employability of migrants in Urban Cairo

01.07.2019 - 31.08.2022

Food-processing and the food service sector is ranked as Egypt’s second largest manufacturing industry This project supports the employability of vulnerable Egyptians and migrants, especially women, in the food sector.


Application of Migration Policy for Decent Work of Migrant Workers

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

Men and women who opt for migrating abroad for employment will benefit from better protection through pre-departure orientation, the application of international standard contracts and access to social security/welfare. The project will improve migration governance in Bangladesh by strengthening the rather weak policy and legislative framework and by building the capacity of the government to expand and improve services for migrant workers.


Return and Reintegration of Migrant Workers in Bangladesh

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

The project’s over-arching goal is to make reintegration economically and socially sustainable for returnee migrants, so that they do not feel obliged to re-migrate. The project will raise awareness of the obstacles returnee men and women migrants are facing. The collaboration with European partners will allow to influence the discourse on dignified and development-oriented migration and return in Bangladesh


Ethiopia, IOM - Durable Solutions

10.12.2018 - 09.06.2021

Ethiopia has about 2.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) mainly due to conflict, drought and flood. Addressing the needs of IDPs has been limited to meeting their short-term humanitarian needs. Given the prolonged economic, social, and gender impacts of displacement on individuals, there is a critical need for longer-term solutions. Switzerland will contribute through IOM to address the long-term needs of the displaced and host communities in their search for self-sufficiency.


Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

01.12.2018 - 31.08.2024

Migration is one of the 21st century’s defining features that significantly impacts economic and social development. It is thus crucial to ensure that the positive effects of migration on development are maximized, while the negative ones minimized. This is only possible if reliable evidence on migration and its interrelations with development is available. KNOMAD generates ground-breaking research and policy recommendations in the field of M&D. Switzerland has taken a lead in building-up KNOMAD as a pioneering knowledge initiative.


Egyptian Red Crescent: Providing primary health care services to migrants and Egyptians in Greater Cairo

01.12.2018 - 30.11.2020

Access to public primary health care for migrants and Egyptians is a serious challenge. By the means of two “Mobile Clinics”, the project will answer to immediate medical needs of migrants and Egyptians in Greater Cairo. Advocacy on protection and health issues among decision makers will contribute to filling the gaps in service delivery. Thanks to its experience and ongoing engagement in health and protection in Egypt, Switzerland is well placed to provide early recovery and self-resilience interventions.


Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT)

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2021

Africa and Europe are intrinsically linked with respect to migration. Swiss support to the pioneering Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT) contributes to strengthening the capacities of African Diaspora Development Organisations based in Europe, including in Switzerland, to promote sustained development in Africa. As ADEPT and its members are active throughout the African continent, a support to the platform allows an outreach in Africa with a relatively limited financial investment.


Swiss Civil Society Organizations Platform on Migration and Development

01.11.2018 - 31.10.2021

Obtaining a coherent and practical Swiss foreign policy on migration (acknowledging the potential of migration for development) depends on the close collaboration between Swiss officials, civil society organisations and the private sector. In its second phase, the project “Swiss CSO Platform on Migration and Development” will contribute to shaping a constructive narrative on Migration and Development, while further strengthening the Swiss Civil Society’s contribution towards the Agenda 2030 and the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM)/Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). 


Fair Recruitment and Labour Conditions of Migrant Workers

01.10.2018 - 31.10.2021

Many of the 105 million people working outside their countries of origin have fallen victim of exploitative practices by unethical recruiters and employers. This project aims to prevent abuses and exploitation of migrant workers. It responds to a demand by the private sector in the global North for ethical standards throughout their supply chains. The Swiss private sector will benefit from stricter standards of recruitment and decent work, while Swiss consumers will profit from consumer goods increasingly produced under fair and ethical standards.


Appui à la résilience de l’élevage pastoral en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2021

L’Afrique de l’Ouest connait une crise alimentaire qui touche environ 10 millions de personnes dont beaucoup d’éleveurs. Les plans de réponse des Etats et des institutions régionales ne mettent pas assez l’accent sur les éleveurs. Ce programme fournira une aide d’urgence à 174’240 éleveurs vulnérables de la région et améliorera les outils de distribution de l’aide dans les mécanismes régionaux et nationaux de gestion de crises alimentaire. Il réduira les conflits, en limitant les transhumances précoces.


Building Regional and National capacities for improved Migration Governance in the IGAD Region

01.10.2018 - 31.12.2021

The Horn of Africa is of high interest for Switzerland in terms of migration policy. Swiss support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its Member States will contribute to improve their capacities to manage migration. Migrants and refugees will be better protected in the region and the contribution of migration to development of the Horn of Africa will be supported, hence stability promoted. The Swiss expertise and engagement at the policy level will contribute to foster a dialogue on migration between Switzerland and the Horn of Africa.


Blue Peace Financing: transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.10.2018 - 30.06.2023

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, additional private capital deployed towards sustainable development are needed. Blue Peace advocates for investments to be re-directed to two levels: transboundary entities and to municipalities. This will have a transformative impact. As a door opener, Switzerland through its partnership with UNCDF contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments leading to sustainable development and peace.

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