Bilateral relations Switzerland–Mali

Switzerland is committed to peacebuilding in Mali. Various bilateral treaties apply at the economic level. Furthermore, Mali is a priority of Switzerland's development cooperation.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Bilateral relations are intense and are vested with a political component by virtue of Switzerland's commitment to peacebuilding and development in Mali.

Treaty database

Government of Mali, official (fr)

Economic cooperation

Switzerland has a wide range of bilateral treaties (on trade, economic cooperation, mutual investment protection and civil aviation) with Mali. Switzerland's prime import is gold, while Its main exports are pharmaceutical products and machinery.

Trade promotion (Switzerland Global Enterprise)

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

Access to high-quality education for all children in Mali remains one of the government's priority objectives. Switzerland is supporting the government to that end. Programmes focusing on that objective facilitate access to high-quality education for marginalised children and youths who are excluded from the education system. They also support vocational training courses aligned with the needs of the jobs market. Such courses target mainly women, young people and the handicapped. Switzerland also firmly supports the decentralised management of education so as to ensure a genuine transfer of skills and financial resources to local and regional authorities.

Researchers and artists from Mali can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SBFI) for a Federal Government Excellence Grant.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship for Foreign Scholars and Artists, SBFI

Peacebuilding and human security

Since 2009, Switzerland has carried out a series of activities in Mali intended to build capacities and foster political dialogue with various official partners and/or civil society.

In terms of dealing with the past, Switzerland also advises the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Fourth Subcommittee of the Monitoring Committee of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (CSA). The Fourth Subcommittee is dedicated to reconciliation, justice and humanitarian issues. The peace agreement was signed by the government of Mali and the rebel groups in May 2015.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

In Mali, the SDC is active mainly in rural development, food security, governance, peacebuilding, basic education and vocational training.

Thanks to its long-standing efforts in Mali and focus on participatory decision-making processes that concern local stakeholders, Switzerland has been able to continually develop its activities to help the country's people and its institutions. It supports private and public actors in implementing projects that are urgently needed for rural development. In the north of the country, Switzerland has resumed its development cooperation work and has stepped up its humanitarian activities.   Humanitarian access in certain areas in the north remains difficult, which hinders local residents' access to basic services.

In those areas where it is active, Switzerland promotes food and nutritional security for local residents. Competitive, sustainable agropastoral systems can boost the income of family farms. Objectives are gradually evolving towards creating jobs and income for young people – in liaison with the private sector - and promoting agriculture able to withstand and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Switzerland is also involved in technical and administrative capacity building at the regional level and among local elected officials, and takes part in the development of public services. At the national level, it supports the transfer of public funds from the centralised financial authorities to the peripheral regions and the mobilisation of resources that can be managed by regional authorities.  Civic development programmes bolster civil society stakeholders and enable citizens to take part in managing public affairs.  Switzerland also supports efforts towards national reconciliation and is in charge of projects that deal with civilian protection (promotion of international humanitarian law).   

Mali has been gripped in a security and humanitarian crisis since 2012, but it is demonstrating remarkable resilience and offers many opportunities. In fact, the country saw 5% growth in 2015. It has a great deal of agropastoral potential that can be exploited and a young population that can be mobilised (demographic growth of 3.6% per year, 65% of the population is under 25). The challenges remain peace and security, poverty alleviation, governance, education and employment. Switzerland is supporting the authorities and people of Mali in their efforts to exploit these opportunities and address these challenges.

Switzerland and Mali

Swiss nationals in Mali

In October 2016 there were 107 registered Swiss nationals in Mali.

History of bilateral relations

On 26 September 1960, the Federal Council recognized the Republic of Mali, establishing diplomatic relations already in 1961. As of 1970, Mali attracted the interest of certain industrial leaders active in the domain of chemistry, textiles and cement. This resulted in a 1977 agreement on technical cooperation and then, in 1978, in two agreements, the one on trade and economic cooperation, and the other on the promotion and mutual protection of investments.

Present in Mali since the major droughts in the 1970s, the SDC initially invested in the support of operations linked to the management of the environment, village water supplies, and the development of healthcare services.

In 1983, the Federal Council approved an export-risk guarantee of CHF 155 million for the construction of a dam. The project, co-financed by Arab and European funds, failed to receive the support of the World Bank and provoked criticism in Switzerland because of the economic and ecological consequences that it entailed.

In 1987, Swiss relief agencies provided assistance in resettling the 20,000 persons who had been displaced by this construction. As of 1989, bilateral agreements were concluded on the rescheduling of Mali's debts and on the backing of a “structural readjustment programme” set up by the World Bank.

In 1991, after the overthrow of the president who had been accused by the Mali press of misappropriation of funds, the FDFA took the unprecedented decision of financially supporting the efforts of the Mali government to find and recuperate public funds suspected of having transited via Switzerland.

The SDC has been present in Mali since the major droughts in the 1970s. Originally it supported activities concerning environmental protection, the water supply and health.

Mali, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)