The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) provides the basis of Switzerland’s foreign aid strategy. The country’s Foreign Policy Strategy 2020-23 focuses on building “peace and security, prosperity, sustainability and digitalization.”
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland’s foreign aid to Ukraine will double by the end of 2023 to $104 million. Switzerland’s support of Ukraine coincides with its foreign aid strategy to build peace and security for people around the world.
Peace and Security
According to a press release from January 2020, the FDFA approved Switzerland’s foreign aid strategy to construct a world safe for everyone to live in and prosper. “In the spirit of cooperation with other countries, Switzerland is committed to working towards a safe and peaceful world where everyone can live free from want and fear, have their human rights protected and enjoy economic prosperity,” FDFA stated on its website.
Accordingly, Switzerland’s candidacy on the U.N. Security Council in 2023-24 will advance Switzerland’s foreign aid globally but especially to Ukraine. Switzerland’s temporary seat will begin in January 2023 through December 2024 and during those two years, Switzerland will “intensify their work towards a peaceful international order,” according to the FDFA.
Foreign Aid to Ukraine
In July 2022, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis announced that Switzerland’s foreign aid will double in Ukraine. He pledged approximately $104 million to Ukraine for reconstruction. According to Cassis, “Ukraine has to lead its reconstruction, but we have to support it,” Swissinfo reported.
Cassis also announced that Switzerland will continue to support organizations operating in Ukraine. He said that “Multilateral efforts are ‘an antidote to the use of force’.” However, Switzerland remains open to peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
Protection for Ukrainian Refugees
In March 2022, the Swiss government decided to grant protection to Ukrainian refugees. Protection will extend to any Ukrainian citizen or resident of Ukraine. It also includes people whom the Ukrainian government granted protection before February 2022.
This protection, or Permit S, is a temporary measure “to persons in need of protection as long as they are exposed to a serious general danger, in particular during a war or civil war as well as in situations of general violence” (Asylum Act §§ 4, 66, para. 2.). Permit S is valid for one year. However, it may extend to five years, depending on the length of the ongoing war.
The Bid to Seize Russian Assets
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Swiss government to freeze their Russian oligarch’s assets. The U.S. House of Representatives urged President Joe Biden to use the funds from the Russian assets to support military and humanitarian aid.
Switzerland froze the Russian oligarch’s assets. However, it has yet to announce any intention to take control of the funds and use them for Switzerland’s foreign aid in Ukraine. Cassis said, “This is a global question and Switzerland will announce its position at the appropriate time.”
Switzerland has always valued peace and it strives to create a peaceful world. Its temporary seat on the U.N. Council could further implement its foreign aid policy to create a secure and safe world for all people to live in. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, Switzerland’s foreign aid strategy to support Ukraine provides hope for the Ukrainian citizens and the world that Switzerland’s value for peace will be one of their top priorities.
– Chris Karenbauer