Bosnia and Herzegovina

Switzerland is supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in its transition towards a democratic society and social market economy. Cooperation activities focus on supporting inclusive social and political reforms, encouraging economic development, creating more decent jobs and strengthening the health sector.

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
© FDFA

The Dayton Peace Agreement brought the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to an end in 1995 after three years of devastation and bloodshed. 26 years after the conflict, BiH remains a fragile state and the Dayton Agreement still defines the complex political structure of the country, composed of two entities: (1) the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and (2) the Republika Srpska and Brčko District, a self-governing administrative area. The cumbersome state apparatus with 14 different levels of government and sometimes overlapping competences poses a challenge to reconciliation and state-building.

BiH applied to join the European Union in February 2016 and its application was accepted in September of that year. In its opinion of 2019, the European Commission defined 14 priority areas for improvement in the areas of democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform. However, ethnic divisions still influence the country’s politics and reforms are slow. The economy suffers from severe structural deficits, including 47% unemployment among young people aged between 15 and 24. Social and economic divisions are growing and nearly 50% of the population is exposed to some form of discrimination. 

Taking into account the needs and the challenges BiH faces, Switzerland will continue to support the country within the scope of its new cooperation programme for the period 2021–24. This support will be focused on specific sectors in line with the priorities defined by the BiH government. The Swiss cooperation programme will be guided by the 2030 Agenda and intervene in line with EU accession priorities and relevant domestic strategies.

Economic development and employment

Switzerland’s efforts in BiH encourage a favourable environment for investments and private sector development as well as more decent jobs and income opportunities for women and men. Switzerland advocates for government policies that encourage economic growth and sustainable prosperity.

Alongside these efforts, Switzerland is helping to fight unemployment among young people. It supports selected vocational education and training (VET) schools and the establishment of a formalised dialogue between VET schools, education authorities and companies, to foster market orientation of the technical vocational education and training (TVET) system.

Basic education and vocational training

Private Sector Development and financial services

Health

The aim in this thematic area is to sustainably guarantee universal access to high-quality primary healthcare and equip women, men and young people with the knowledge to adopt healthier lifestyles. Switzerland's efforts to set up primary healthcare services focus on the development of nursing services, community mental healthcare and preventing chronic diseases to reduce health sector costs in the long term. 

Health

Local governance and municipal services

In its cooperation with BiH, Switzerland is helping to develop accountable institutions tailored to citizens’ needs by improving access to public services and making them easier to use. The enhancement of municipal services is especially important in the water sector and for disaster risk reduction. The inclusion of marginalised groups is a key concern. Interventions therefore encourage all citizens, in particular women and youth, to express their voices in a structured way and to actively participate in decision-making.

State and Economic Reforms

Migration

As a transit country for migrants, BiH faces migration management challenges. It can rely on close cooperation with Switzerland within the Migration Partnership signed in 2009 and facilitated by the SEM, and on Swiss expertise in this area. Switzerland will continue to reduce hardship experienced by migrants transiting BiH, while strengthening BiH’s capacities to prevent irregular migration, improve border management and protect migrants' rights. It will also continue to facilitate transfers of BiH diaspora know-how and resources, as well as the flow of remittances.

Migration

Organisation and partners

Switzerland coordinates its work with the authorities of BiH and with other donor countries, multilateral organisations and international financial institutions as well as civil society and private sector partners. The principles of good governance, gender equity, social inclusion, citizen participation and climate change and resource efficiency are an integral part of the Swiss cooperation programme. The other Swiss state actors engaged in BiH are the FDFA State Secretariat, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) via the deployment of a military contingent to the European Union Force in BiH.

Switzerland's main partners in BiH are:

  • Swiss NGOs, including Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and the Swiss Red Cross
  • Swiss partners, including the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Canton of Zurich and Geneva University Hospitals
  • Multilateral organisations, including the UNDP and the World Bank
  • National partners, including government departments, regional and local authorities (bodies, cantons, municipalities), civil society organisations and BiH NGOs
  • Co-funding partners, including Sweden, Germany and the EU

Documents

Current Projects

Object 1 – 12 of 26

Strengthening regional cooperation on migration in the Western Balkans

01.06.2025 - 31.12.2027

In light of diversifying migration patterns and challenges with increasing regional dimensions, the migration policy priorities of Western Balkan governments are changing and the relevance of regional dialogue, coordination and cooperation is growing. This proposal seeks to promote coherent and effective regional governance of migration in all its multifaceted dimensions contributing to greater social cohesion and regional integration in the Western Balkans.


Planned project

Mozaik: Youth for Change in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.03.2023 - 28.02.2027

Young people are encouraged to increase their activism and to engage in joint community projects of public interest with municipal authorities and local companies. They acquire skills and self-confidence which provides them with better chances on the labor market, and some of them will develop into entrepreneurs who again create work opportunities accessible for all.


Making Markets work for te next generation

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2026

MarketMakers (MM) introduces missing and strengthens underperforming market functions in the IT and Business/Knowledge-Process-Outsourcing (BPO/KPO) sectors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). MM induces economic growth in private companies and contributes to create new and better jobs. MM further supports youth employment and entrepreneurship by improving conditions for self-employment, business creation and freelancing. This consolidation phase of MM will ensure further scale and sustainability of interventions. 


Municipal Environmental Governance (MEG)

01.04.2021 - 31.03.2025

Close to one quarter of the municipalities in the country will adopt a new performance management system, in line with the reforms of the public administration. Elected officials and municipal administrations will perform their duties and interact with citizens in a more responsive and transparent way. Citizens will benefit from better services, in particular in the water sector, in line with the European Union standards, and by developing synergies with the World Bank Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Modernization Programme. The regulatory framework at all levels will be improved to support these reforms. 


BiH Diaspora Platform

15.07.2020 - 30.06.2024

Switzerland is host to a significant diaspora from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), including representatives of all nationalities constituting BiH. Since 2017, the i-platform serves as a bridge-builder among the heterogeneous members of the BiH diaspora in Switzerland and between the two countries, facilitating partnerships, know-how transfer, and investments. Through this exit phase, the i-platform shall gain full financial sustainability and become a meaningful and effective diaspora engagement model for development.


The "Bosnia i Herzegovina"-Platform

01.07.2020 - 31.12.2025

The Bosnia i Herzegovina Platform (BiH) is an initiative of diaspora associations that are already involved in development activities. The platform will enhance cooperation and strengthen the diaspora associations’ role as development actors. SDC aims at promoting the potential of migrants for sustainable development mainly through improved framework conditions. The permanent platform as an effective and dynamic network will set the grounds for competent coordination services to diaspora organizations, to the country of destination and to the country of origin.


Strengthening the Role of Local Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.05.2020 - 31.03.2024

The Project will enhance community governance in BiH by empowering local communities (MZs) as modern and effective structures for pro-active citizens’ participation. A new functional and organizational set up of MZs in BiH will be created and standardized countrywide. In turn, women and men will benefit from more people-centred local service delivery, better accountability and transparency of municipalities.

 

 

 


Housing solutions for displaced persons

Apartment building in Serbia

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2022

As a consequence of the war in the 1990s, over three million people were displaced both within and beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Twenty-five years after the Dayton Accords, the Western Balkans are still host to almost half a million vulnerable persons displaced by conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) aims to provide durable housing solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons in need.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Western Balkans
Migration
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)

01.03.2019 - 31.12.2022


CHF  1’555’000



Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Joint UN Project

01.09.2018 - 31.12.2022

High exposure to natural hazards coupled with insufficient technical, organizational, and financial capacities of BiH’s institutions and governments directly impede the country’s socio-economic development and increase population vulnerability. This Project, jointly implemented by five UN Agencies, will reduce the social and economic vulnerabilities of citizens and institutions affected by disasters and climate change by introducing and operationalizing an integrated model of disaster risk governance and livelihood enhancement starting with selected local municipalities.


Support to the Juvenile Justice Reform

01.05.2018 - 31.05.2022

Since 2010, the child justice system in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has undertaken a process of reform to which UNICEF, SDC and Sida have greatly contributed. Today the legal framework on juvenile justice is compliant with international standards, but the system for its implementation still needs to be strenghtened. This last project phase will focus on building the human capacity of justice and child protection professionals, and ensuring that adequate financial means are provided by the Government to implement this framework throughout the country. Awareness of children and their families about their rights and demanding access to justice will also be a priority.


Mental Health Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.03.2018 - 28.02.2023

The project supports the health authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop a sustainable system of community-based mental health care which provides quality services for persons with mental health problems and takes measures to reduce risks of development of such problems among the population. The respect of human rights and dignity of women and men with mental health disorders, their families and of those at risk of developing such disorders shall be improved as well as social inclusion and quality of life of these persons.


Strengthening Associations of Municipalities and Cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

01.01.2018 - 31.03.2022

In the complex institutional and legal system and incomplete policy context for decentralisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the two entity Associations of Municipalities and Cities (AMCs) are formally recognized as actors of decentralization, advocating for local governments (LGs). The project aims at enhancing AMCs’ capacities to actively support local governments in the provision of efficient services to their citizens, and to improve LGs role, status and position towards higher levels of government in BiH.

Object 1 – 12 of 26