Switzerland/donor profile

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European Union: EC | EUWI | TACIS | DG AIDCO | DG Environment

Finland: MoFA | SKYE
Germany: Auswaertiges Amt | GTZ
Norway: NORAD | MoFA | MoE
Sweden: SIDA
Switzerland: SDC | seco
USA: USAID | State Department


Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)

The Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (FDFA) formulates and coordinates Swiss foreign policy on the instructions of the Federal Council. The activity of the FDFA is based on the 5 foreign-policy objectives defined in the Federal Constitution:

  • peaceful coexistence among peoples
  • respect for human rights and the promotion of democracy
  • safeguarding the interests of the Swiss economy abroad
  • relieving need and poverty in the world
  • preserving the natural environment.

The preservation of natural resources is one of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy (Art. 54 of the Federal Constitution). Environmental protection – one of the three mainstays of sustainable development – is also a precondition for global conflict prevention, stability and security.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) collaborates closely with the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC, principally the Swiss Agency for the Environment), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) and other federal administrative agencies. This cooperation makes it possible to obtain an overview of Swiss environmental policy and promotes coherence in foreign policy.

Political Affairs Division I

The Political Affairs Division I of the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (FDFA) coordinates bilateral relations between Switzerland and the countries of Europe and Central Asia. In the multilateral field it represents Swiss interests in the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Western and Central Europe section and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia section develop and coordinate bilateral relations between Switzerland and over 50 countries, among them all the member states of the European Union, Turkey and the successor states to the former Soviet Union. These two sections define foreign-policy guidelines in relations with these states, and implement these in close collaboration with the relevant Swiss embassies. In addition, the Western Europe section coordinates and implements policy towards our neighbouring countries – while the Eastern Europe section identifies possible Swiss contributions to the stabilization of potential trouble-spots, such as the western Balkans or the Caucasus, and sometimes delivers them as well.

The Council of Europe and OSCE section ensures the coherency of Swiss policy in the Council of Europe and the OSCE. The OSCE service is responsible for coordinating Switzerland’s OSCE policy. It monitors the OSCE’s institutional and financial affairs, draws up instructions to the Swiss delegation in Vienna and prepares for the OSCE’s frequent conferences. In addition the service pays Switzerland’s mandatory contribution to the organization. It maintains contact with the Swiss delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly and conducts OSCE projects.

Political Affairs Division III

Political Affairs Division III, "The United Nations and Other International Organizations coordinates and implements Swiss policy on the United Nations (UN), its specialized agencies and other international organizations. In addition, it is responsible for Switzerland’s host-country policy, i.e. for hosting international organizations in this country. In this context, International Geneva is at the focus of its activities.

Political Affairs Division IV

Promoting peace and strengthening human rights are central objectives of Swiss foreign policy. The Political Affairs Division IV: Human Security (PA IV) is responsible for pursuing these objectives, in close cooperation with other federal agencies

Peace policy section: this section works for the avoidance and resolution of conflicts, and for sustainable peace-keeping. It also cooperates actively with international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the area of policy development.

FDFA's relationship to relevant non-Swiss bodies

FDFA and the United Nations

Switzerland considers that coordinated action at the international level is often more appropriate and effective than pursuing individual plans. For this reason, it supports the UN’s efforts to promote peace and security, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, as well as the UN’s activities in the economic, social, cultural and environmental fields. The UN also offers the most suitable framework for developing and ensuring compliance with international law.


For Switzerland, the Organization is an important partner in the European and global security architecture. By assuming the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 1996, Switzerland underlined the importance it attaches to pan-European cooperation.

Switzerland concentrates on the Organization’s original core tasks. It uses the Organization as a forum for debating security issues with all the countries of Europe and Central Asia, as well as the USA and Canada, and takes part in important conferences and meetings. It supports the OSCE’s projects in the sphere of human and politico-military security. In addition, Swiss experts are dispatched to key functions within the Organization. Switzerland is represented by eight members in the Parliamentary Assembly.

To find out more, see the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs website

SDC - Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is responsible for the following areas in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA):

  • bilateral and multilateral development cooperation
  • humanitarian aid, incl. Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA)
  • cooperation with Eastern Europe
  • coordinating development cooperation work and cooperation with Eastern European with other federal departments.

The goal of the agency’s development work is to reduce poverty by

  • promoting economic and political autonomy
  • improving the conditions for production
  • helping to overcome environmental problems
  • facilitating education, basic healthcare and culture for the disadvantaged

The goal of the agency’s cooperation with Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is to support all these countries:

  • with the development of democratic institutions
  • with the sustainable management of their natural resources
  • with the reform of their healthcare and social systems.

There are currently 200 different projects in progress in 14 different partner countries. These are being implemented in close cooperation with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco).

See complete list of SDC-projects here.

The agency’s bilateral development cooperation is concentrated on 17 countries and 8 special programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are some 750 projects currently in progress. The agency is also involved in multilateral projects with United Nations (UN) organizations, the World Bank and regional development banks.

To find out more see the SDC website

Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)

FOEN International Affairs Division

FOEN is an integral part of Switzerland's foreign-policy system. Accordingly, the usual diplomatic instruments are employed in the fulfilment of specific tasks, with the adoption of a multilateral approach being a clear priority. These diplomatic efforts are supported by FOEN's scientific and technical expertise.

The Division is responsible for: Global affairs Europe, trade and cooperation on development; Rio Conventions

FOEN Global Affairs Section

The section's tasks are: UN matters; Sustainable development; UNEP; CSD; UNFF; Environment and Security; Chemicals; Geneva International; Basler Konvention: UNITAR

To find out more see the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment website

Swiss Cooperation with Eastern Europe sub-regions

Supporting transition

Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Sovjet Union aims to provide support for the transition to democracy and a market economy by means of knowledge transfer and assistance in problem solving. It is implemented jointly by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs). Since 1990 over 1000 Swiss funded projects in 23 transition countries have been realised.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) assists transition countries mostly in South-East Europe and the former Soviet Union in their effort to attain sustainable economic growth based on a market economy and to integrate into the world economy. SECO supports its partner countries to rehabilitate and construct their basic infrastructures, focusing on the domains of energy, water and sanitation, and environment. Other focal points of SECO’s transition assistance are programmes for developing the private sector, for promoting trade, and for developing the financial sector.

SDC contributes to the strengthening of democratic institutions and good governance in former communist countries. The support of social, judicial and economic reforms, vocational training for youth and the unemployed as well as rural development are among the main activities. Roughly 70% of the means are invested in Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo). About 30% of the budget goes to projects implemented in former Soviet republics (Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, Ukraine and Moldava).

Swiss cooperation with Central Asia

The Regional strategy for 2007 – 2011 focuses on: health care reform; water management and disaster reduction; basic infrastructure; private sector development; and public institutions and services. Only Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are eligible, while a regional approach is preferred over bilateral assistance.

See Central Asia Regional Water Information Base (CAREWIB).

The Stability Pact and regional initiatives

In addition to its bilateral support, SDC promotes the regional integration of the countries of Southeast Europe as an essential step on their way to European integration. It is therefore strongly committed to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe (SP-SEE), a political initiative launched in 1999 which has allowed better coordination of donor-supported activities at the regional level, while serving as a platform for the common strategies of the countries involved with respect to democracy/human rights, economic development and security.

The SP-SEE's policy coordination mission will come to an end in the near future with the recent or imminent EU membership of several Southeast European countries. However, regional integration of the Balkans remains an important challenge. Switzerland is therefore pursuing its efforts along these lines, flanking the consolidation of Southeast Europe's position with initiatives and thematic networks that have grown out of the SP-SEE. It is concentrating its support on networks with considerable potential in the areas of local democracy, education, health, social dialogue, cross-border cooperation on the management of natural resources, migration and the combat of organized crime.


See also

External Resources


 SDC South Caucasus strategy 02-06.pdf  CH projects Easter EU and CIS 2004.pdf  SDC Ferghana Valley IWRM phase - FINAL PRESS-release Feb08.doc  SDC Regional Water Sector update Central Asia 01.21.2008.doc

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