Promoting democratic values is essential to inclusive governance. The equal participation of all population groups increases the likelihood of fair and balanced development that benefits everyone. Efforts are made to curb corruption and the abuse of power, minimising the risk of frustration and political confrontation. Promoting democracy is one of Switzerland's foreign policy priorities.
Democratisation is a key concern for the SDC, which aims to promote community involvement and responsible government action. By enabling different population groups to have an equal say in political life and determine issues that affect their daily lives, diverse interests can be represented, supporting broad-based decision-making. This lends greater legitimacy to political processes and creates a climate of shared responsibility for implementation. Other key democratic principles include power-sharing, checks on power, accountability, the rule of law and equality before the law.
Switzerland supports both democratic institutions and democratic processes, promoting interaction between the mutually reinforcing democratic forces that shape the political system. Promoting gender equality and equal participation and protecting disadvantaged communities are key priorities for Switzerland. In meeting its commitments, Switzerland works from a politically informed perspective, supports solutions that are appropriate in the context and builds on existing structures. It works on the basis of democratic values rather than any specific model.
Democratisation is crucial to inclusive, sustainable development, but it is also an end in itself, ensuring that civil and political rights are upheld and other fundamental social, economic and cultural rights are respected. Democratisation can also contribute to the de-escalation of violent conflicts.
The SDC seeks to raise public awareness of citizens' rights and duties, the legal framework that facilitates citizen participation, and the support available for a range of citizens' initiatives. It empowers organisations to mobilise support for particular issues, represent groups effectively, consolidate structures, and build alliances.
Free media ensure that the public have access to independent sources of information. Free media can scrutinise the actions of the government and provide impartial platforms for public debate. Switzerland supports training courses for media professionals, for example, and encourages fair and balanced reporting that is properly researched. It also supports efforts to create a legislative framework to protect media freedom and raise public awareness on dealing with the media. The activities of the SDC are increasingly focused on social media channels, given the enormous influence that these now exert.
The activities of the SDC include providing training and advice to members of parliament on developing laws, serving on committees, overseeing budgets and administrative actions and implementing effective public outreach. The SDC also provides assistance in establishing effective parliamentary and secretariat services, working in cooperation with Swiss Parliamentary Services and other parties.
Switzerland promotes professional and independent electoral administrations, the dissemination of impartial, objective information to the public, and peaceful public debate. It encourages women and members of disadvantaged groups to take part in elections. Switzerland also provides assistance in undertaking electoral reforms and independent election monitoring.
The SDC works to ensure compliance with and implementation of laws and regulations and the imposition of appropriate penalties in respect of wrongdoing. It promotes training programmes for judges and lawyers and supports various forms of mediation to facilitate responsible, fair and efficient dispute resolution. The SDC also supports legal services that advise individuals and groups on their rights and on taking legal action.
Switzerland supports independent bodies set up to oversee government agencies and impose sanctions where malpractice is identified. Such bodies may include state auditors, anti-corruption agencies, ombudsperson institutions overseeing a range of matters and human rights commissions. The SDC provides assistance in the form of training, advice, organisational development and, in some cases, funding. The SDC also provides expertise in defining legislation governing the remit, independence and funding of such bodies.