Ukraine is one of the few countries where Switzerland's international cooperation is implementing a cooperation and development programme that involves all four of its stakeholders. For over two decades, SECO, the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) and two divisions of the SDC have conducted on-the-ground work to help modernise and reform the country. Together they constitute the foundation of Switzerland's commitment to Ukraine.
All four stakeholders in Switzerland's international cooperation are active in Ukraine
The Ukrainian revolution united all levels of society against a Soviet-inspired socio-economic system people no longer accepted. Since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine has fought constantly to end the oligarchy, corruption and financial instability that have plunged its people into poverty. The Revolution of Dignity (2013–14) emerged in every region of the country and triggered a vast programme of structural reforms that aimed to improve the state’s institutions as well as social well-being.
Since then, the focus has been on initiating political, economic and social transitions in the country with the support of a host of national, international and multilateral actors. But the promised reforms have often faced formidable obstacles: an armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the energy and environmental transition have presented further challenges for the Ukrainian authorities to deal with. With so much work to do and so many actors involved, it gradually became clear to all that coordination would have to be reinforced (see next article).
More than 25 years of Swiss engagement in Ukraine
Switzerland's international cooperation has always maintained a presence in Ukraine. It has worked to support the country for more than 25 years; in just under two decades it has contributed the equivalent of 27 million Swiss francs per year for aid work on the ground.
It works via the four stakeholders of its international cooperation: the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the SDC's Cooperation with Eastern Europe and Humanitarian Aid divisions, and the FDFA's PHRD. This makes Ukraine one of the few countries where Switzerland is deploying a cooperation programme using all of its available tools. This allows it to guarantee the coherence, complementarity and effectiveness of the Confederation's work in the country. The four stakeholders work transversally across several priority intervention areas, developing initiatives to support peace, prosperity, stability and digitalisation.
Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy and the 2030 Agenda
As part of its work in Ukraine, Switzerland is actively involved in the OSCE. Its support for reforms – whether they relate to decentralisation, the economy, health, or promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights – aims to provide the local population with adequate framework conditions and high-quality services. The absence of these has, in the past, been among the catalysts for forced or illegal immigration, which remains a key concern with regard to European stability.
These actions are, of course, all contained in the International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, which is itself an instrument of Switzerland's foreign policy. This increased commitment is also included in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.