During the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the right to development presented a report regarding his visit to Switzerland last year (see CETIM’s bulletin No. 60). In it, he expressed concerns regarding the new approach of the Swiss cooperation, a concern in the same vein as already expressed by CETIM. During the debate which followed the presentation of the Rapporteur, CETIM took the floor to remind the problematic issues regarding this matter.
As the Rapporteur rightly pointed out, the new approach of the Swiss development cooperation policy, which emphasises “Switzerland’s primary interests”, is of great concern. As we all know, the basis for development cooperation worthy of the name is solidarity.
It is about supporting people and countries which are in difficulty at a given time in their history by granting them technical and/or material support to meet their needs and to help them cope. If countries only take care of their own national interests, can we still really speak of development cooperation? Furthermore, during its intervention at the UN, CETIM expressed concerns regarding the new direction of Swiss cooperation which relies on economic growth to solve all development problems and, in order to achieve this, grants the private sector a significant role.
According to CETIM, this is an outdated development model which continues to be imposed by the heavyweights of the world even if it has not only shown itself to be ineffective but has also damaged the environment, the economy, social welfare, subsistence farming and culture.
We regret that the Special Rapporteur failed to mention in his report the situation of Swiss peasants and agricultural workers in the country. Indeed most of the subsidies paid to the farming sector are gobbled up by processors and firms selling these goods, while peasants and agricultural workers cannot meet their own needs even though they work more than 10 hours a day.