"The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts, but on how we respond to them." Thomas Crum (1998). “The Magic of Conflict", Simon & Schuster
Conflicts and violence are crucial challenges that threaten to slow down or to reverse development achievements. They adversely affect the lives and dignity of millions of people and drive most of the humanitarian needs worldwide: individuals are displaced, families separated, livelihoods are devastated and opportunities for broader growth, development and prosperity are destroyed. Addressing challenges in these fragile settings is a strategic priority for SDC. Switzerland's involvement in fragile and conflict-affected regions (FCAS) calls for long-term engagement with a flexible approach and a thorough understanding of the conflict in all its dimensions.
Conflicts are the expressions of tensions and incompatibilities between different interdependent parties regarding their needs, interests and values. Conflicts are not exclusively negative, as they can also help societies to develop. The problem starts when conflicts are settled through violent means and when they threaten to reverse development achievements.
Conflict and violence prevention and transformation refers to processes and activities supporting structures to prevent / transform conflicts, solidify and establish peace, and avoid relapse into conflict. SDC aims at building peace by addressing the structural causes and drivers of the conflicts and taking State building factors into account, in order to achieve good governance, the rule of law, the protection of the citizens and the respect of human rights, and thus promote constructive conflict and violence prevention and transformation.
Relevant links and key documents:
Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Strategy for SDC's work in fragile and conflict contexts (FR) (ES)
The International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF)
Switzerland's Foreign Policy Action Plan on Preventing Violent Extremism (2016)
For SDC, the foundations of being conflict-sensitive imply incorporating a systemic understanding of the interaction between the local context and an intervention into the design, implementation and evaluation framework, with a view to reducing potentially negative impacts and accentuating positive impacts. This means that we ensure at the minimum a Do No Harm approach (minimise negative effects).
In addition, conflict sensitivity also means looking at how SDC and its partners work to contribute to the prevention and transformation of conflicts, and it helps us to stay engaged in a context, even if there is an escalation of violence.
In line with its Peace and State building Strategy (2015), SDC supports countries in their path out of fragility and out of situations of violent conflict. Through actions and policies aiming at reducing the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict and through the creation of the necessary conditions for sustainable peace, by i.e. building trust and addressing the deep-rooted structural causes of violent conflict, the FCHR Unit and FCHR Network contribute to conflict prevention and transformation.
The CSPM approach is a mandatory working modality in fragile contexts for SDC. The CSPM tools however, are part of SDC's Risk Management System and can be applied in all contexts. The FCHR platform provides you with information on how to mainstream conflict sensitivity on context, programme and management level.
Below a graphic description of the different levels of the CSPM approach: from conflict sensitivity to conflict transformation.
Preventing violent extremism is part of Swiss peacebuilding and statebuilding policy. Through its actions, Switzerland helps support its partners in their efforts to stamp out the breeding grounds of violent extremism, while at the same time eradicating the direct and structural causes that feed this phenomenon. It seeks to play a role in creating social contexts in which social cohesion means that those who might be tempted to resort to violence on economic, ideological, political, religious or social grounds are not failed by their environment. Young people, in particular, must be offered visible prospects and alternatives.
SDC's prevention approach to meet this challenge is the consistent application of development instruments like the Conflict Sensitive Program Management (CSPM), understood as a comprehensive risk approach, the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA), a gender-sensitive analysis as well as a strict result orientation, to be fit for purpose.
SDC works closely with civil society, placing a focus on women and young people as key prevention partners. As well as taking part in a number of international and regional forums, especially in North Africa and the Sahel, SDC through FCHR also supports the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), which is based in Geneva. GCERF is the principal support mechanism for local efforts and initiatives aimed at directly strengthening community resilience to violent extremism. Working at the nexus of security and development issues, this community of practice and fund advocates establishing partnerships and consulting with the government authorities, civil society and private sector in the countries in question as the best way to address the local drivers of violent extremism.
Relevant links and key documents
Switzerland's international cooperation on Fragility Conflict and Human Rights
FDFA Peace and Human Rights Division's PVE programme
GCERF - Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund
United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT)
UNOCT Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Strategy: Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (2015)
OSCE Action against Terrorism Unit
OSCE: Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalisation that Lead to Terrorism: Ideas, Recommendations, and Good Practices from the OSCE Region (Neuman 2017)
UNDP: Risk Management For Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Programmes (Guidance note for practitioners, 2019)
World Bank report, Central Asia (April 2020) : Strengthening Youth Resilience to Radicalization: Evidence from Tajikistan
Mercy Corps: Understanding the Links Between Social Cohesion and Violence, Evidence from the Tillabéri region of Niger (March 2021)
Security sector reform (SSR) aims for a society where the security sector, including police, military and the judicial system, respects human rights and is under democratic control. It is a key component in international development cooperation. The approach of Security Sector Reform provides an important toolbox for the building of effective and accountable institutions, especially of the security sector. With the Geneva Center for Security, Development and Rule of Law (DCAF), SDC has a recognized strategic partner on the way to improve its work in the nexus between development and security policy.
OECD DAC Handbook on Security System Reform
Mine action makes an important contribution to peace, security and development. It is a fundamental prerequisite for humanitarian action, peace processes, security and socio-economic development among the affected communities of countries concerned. Mine action plays a very real role as an enabler: letting refugees and internally displaced people return home, allowing the affected population to regain access to areas where they live and work, permitting agricultural land and natural resources to be used again and the necessary infrastructure to be repaired or built.
Mine Action Strategy of the Swiss Confederation 2016-2022
Mine Action Strategy of the Swiss Confederation 2016–22 2020 Annual Report