Since 1988, Switzerland has deployed immigration liaison officers (ILOs) to foreign countries. The ILOs’ task is to implement Swiss foreign policy on migration in accordance with the report on cooperation on international migration and the integrated border management strategy (IBM). Currently, ILOs have been posted to 8 Swiss embassies. Some ILOs are responsible for several countries.
The ILOs play a pivotal role in implementing Swiss foreign policy on migration. They help maintain an effective and efficient policy at four main levels:
- In recent decades, SEM has increased its international activities considerably. More than 60 readmission agreements and other instruments for cooperation on migration, including six migration partnerships, are currently in force. These instruments are the cornerstones of Switzerland’s foreign policy on migration. ILOs are one of the key components for ensuring the effective implementation of these instruments.
- The presence of an ILO on the ground gives SEM detailed knowledge of the migration situation in the country concerned; this guides SEM in setting an effective international policy in relation to its principal partners. ILOs also facilitate the gathering of information on the ground, which is necessary to achieve rapid and efficient asylum procedures.
- The ILO is an essential means of support for SEM in relation to its programme on returns. By their presence on the ground and their extensive and reliable networks, ILOs facilitate the implementation of voluntary and forcible returns.
- The SEM has since 2012 managed a credit of around CHF 12 million a year, which is used to strengthen international cooperation on migration and returns. The ILOs play a pivotal role by identifying potential projects for funding and in supervising the conduct of these projects in the field.
With this wide range of tasks, the ILOs are a key component in achieving the objectives of Switzerland’s foreign policy on migration: namely, improving cooperation with the various countries affected by migration, improving the protection given to displaced persons in host countries and reducing irregular migration.
The ILOs work to achieve the objectives of integrated border management with the defence attachés posted by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS and the liaison officers posted by the Federal Department of Finance FDF.
The Swiss ILOs form part of the European network of ILOs that promote cooperation between the EU’s various member and associate states.
Last modification 22.04.2021