Integrated Border Management (IBM)

Keywords: Security policy

Illegal migration, commercial people-smuggling and cross-border crime pose enormous challenges for Switzerland’s federal and cantonal authorities. Successfully combating these phenomena requires close cooperation and coordination between the federal government and the cantons, beyond their individual areas of responsibility.

Under the lead of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM, then the Federal Office for Migration FOM), the federal and cantonal authorities concerned and involved thus developed the Integrated Border Management Strategy (IBM Strategy 2012) and the Integrated Border Management Action Plan (IBM Action Plan 2014) The intention was to create a common umbrella for all of the activities of the individual border management agencies, in order:

  • efficiently to coordinate the fight against illegal migration and, in particular, people-smuggling on a commercial scale
  • to combat cross-border crime
  • to facilitate legal migration, and
  • to ensure that border management in itself complies with the law and with human rights conventions.

The IBM Strategy and IBM Action Plan were acknowledged by both the Federal Council and the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Justice and Police KKJPD. The involvement of the latter reflects the key role that the cantons play in integrated border management.

The first strategy cycle ended as planned in 2017, after five years. A final report was then produced as a (primarily qualitative) overall assessment of the way in which the Action Plan had been implemented since its launch in 2014. An external agency also conducted an evaluation of the IBM Strategy and the IBM Action Plan. The evaluation examined the process by which they came about, and also assessed the implementation of both using precise criteria, such as relevance, usefulness, effectiveness, economy, coherence and sustainability.

All in all, it can be stated that, in recent years, integrated border management has developed into a brand that is jointly supported and shaped by the professionals concerned. It proved possible to convince the authorities involved of the need for a collective strategic umbrella, and to draw up a common strategic approach. The goal of encouraging a nationwide approach and improving cooperation between the actors mentioned above was largely achieved, and the effects will be felt for a long time at the institutional, strategic and operational levels. As expected, it was more difficult to assess the effectiveness of the Strategy in respect of its general goals, in particular because it deliberately did not set any target figures, in addition to the multi-layered and intertwined cause-and-effect relationships involved. It can nonetheless be said that the actors concerned unanimously believe that the measures that have been implemented have made a key contribution towards meeting the general goals of the Strategy.

The findings of the final report and the evaluation serve as a basis for the drafting of the successor strategy. This should build on existing strengths. Specifically, these include involving the cantonal and federal authorities concerned as early as possible, and having the successor strategy adopted by the competent federal authorities and the cantons. Where the strategy implementation phase is concerned, whether and how the successor strategy can be embedded even more firmly in the political landscape must be examined, as must the extent to which such a position might be used to manage its implementation.

Work on the successor strategy, in close cooperation with the participating authorities at federal and cantonal level, has already begun. The new strategy should be ready for submission to the Federal Council and KKJPD by the end of 2019.

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