Strengthening the rule of law, democracy and institutions

Rule of law and democracy, coping with global warming, transparent energy tariffs and water use rights: Switzerland's programmes seek to involve citizens more in political processes and ensure that everyone benefits from sustainable development.

People march through the centre of Skopje.
A peaceful demonstration in Skopje © SDC / Robert Atanasovski

Citizens take to the ballot box to shape their country's future

An active civil society is central to stable, functional democracies. Civil society ensures that citizens' political, social and economic interests are heard. Furthermore, it scrutinises the activities of the government and demands transparency and accountability. In this way, an active civil society encourages social progress and economic growth. In young democracies – such as the countries of the Western Balkans – civil society faces hurdles that make it difficult to defend its interests and voice its concerns. Limited press freedom, widespread corruption and the political and social marginalisation of minorities are the cause.

In the two Western Balkan countries of Macedonia and Kosovo, there are still many challenges to be overcome. Perceived corruption is high and freedom of the press and opinion is not guaranteed. As part of two projects in Macedonia and Kosovo, Switzerland is directly supporting some 200 civil society organisations and actors working for social change in their countries. The projects aim to help these actors voice their concerns more effectively as part of the political process and at the same time to stimulate public debate.

Two SDC-backed civil society initiatives in Macedonia and Kosovo:

The citizens bringing about political change in Macedonia

In 2016, nationwide protests erupted against the Macedonian government of the time. The citizens were unhappy about the political direction the government was taking. The situation was aggravated by indications that the government was caught up in a corruption scandal. People took to the streets in a 'colour revolution' which led to new elections and a peaceful change of government in Macedonia. The SDC-supported organisations are working actively to ensure the corruption scandal is investigated and to develop a proposal to end the political crisis.

Democratisation – Fundamental for effective aid

Kosovar success stories get citizens talking

AlbInfo is an internet platform providing topical content on the Western Balkans for people in the region and for the Albanian-speaking diaspora in Switzerland.  The SDC is funding a series of reports on Kosovar success stories.  Fashion designer, organic farmer or building contractor – their stories all promote ties between the diaspora and the Western Balkans region, strengthening the exchange of knowledge and experience also with political decision-makers.

Kosovar success stories, AlbInfo


Free Online Classes to mobilise effective climate action

A woman sitting at a computer works with the UN CC:Learn platform.
© SDC / Daniel Maselli

Sound knowledge and targeted education on climate change are needed to help society adapt to global warming. Many people who are hardest hit by its consequences do not have access to knowledge and education on climate change. UN CC:Learn addresses this.

Energy for a remote mountain region

Electricity pylons bringing energy to the Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan.

Pamir Energy is a SECO-supported power utility in the Gorno-Badakhshan province of Tajikistan. It provides over quarter of a million people with reliable, sustainable, affordable water-powered electricity.

Sustainable cross-border management of the Mekong river basin

© Bounmy/SDC Lao PDR

More than 60 million people depend on the Mekong river as it flows southwards, feeding an entire region that bears its name and supporting a unique wealth of biodiversity and aquatic resources.