What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?
In 2023 and 2024, Switzerland has a seat on the UN Security Council, where it is contributing its expertise in global peace and security to discussions and debates. In May 2023, Switzerland held the council presidency. Scroll the newsticker for background information about Switzerland's Security Council activities and statements.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired a debate of the UN Security Council on 3 May 2023, which focused on building trust. © FDFA
Composition of the UN Security Council 2023
Switzerland's priorities and roles in the UN Security Council
On 31 August 2022, the Federal Council outlined four priorities for Switzerland's seat on the UN Security Council:
- Building sustainable peace
- Protecting civilians
- Enhancing effectiveness
- Addressing climate security
Switzerland strives for credible engagement in the Security Council across the full range of its agenda.
Roles of Switzerland
Lead / Penholderships:
- Co-penholdership for Syria (humanitarian) with Brazil.
- Co-penholdership for the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) jointly with Ghana
Chair of subsidiary bodies:
- Chair of the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of North Korea
- Co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, with United Arab Emirates
- Co-Chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, jointly with the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique
- Focal Point on Hunger and Conflict, co-chaired with Brazil
- Focal Point on the International Criminal Court (ICC), jointly with Japan
Voting behaviour of Switzerland and monthly overview
Voting behaviour of Switzerland in the UN Security Council
01.12.2023 – Switzerland regrets the withdrawal of the UN Mission in the Sudan
At the request of the Sudanese government, the UN Security Council today decided to end the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS).
Without the consent and political will of the host state, UN Political Missions are unable to implement their mandate. On 16 November, the government withdrew its consent for UNITAMS in a letter to the Secretary-General. In a statement after the vote, Switzerland expressed regret for the termination of the UN mission in Sudan. UNITAMS' mandate was originally intended to support the country's transition, which was abruptly interrupted by the outbreak of conflict last April. Various UN agencies will remain in the country. In the Council, Switzerland voiced its support for the recently appointed UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and the regional peace efforts. Switzerland also appealed to all parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular to protect the civilian population.
The current conflict is taking a massive toll on the civilian population. The humanitarian situation in the country is catastrophic. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 5 million people have been displaced within Sudan since the outbreak of violence and over one million have fled to neighbouring countries to escape the consequences of the conflict. The number of displaced people is one of the highest in the world. The conflict also further exacerbates the dramatic humanitarian situation. Figures from the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirm that almost 25 million people – half of Sudan's population – are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. There is a lack of food, drinking water, hygiene facilities, shelter, medical care and protection. To respond to the acute humanitarian needs in Sudan and the affected neighbouring countries, Switzerland has provided around CHF 60 million so far this year.
Against the current backdrop of ongoing violence, displacement and humanitarian need, it is important to Switzerland that the Security Council continues to fulfil its responsibility for peace and security and remains informed about the situation in Sudan. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland therefore advocated for a continued reporting to the Council on the situation in the country and the role of the UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan. The latter is to play an important role in supporting regional peace efforts.
29.11.2023 – Middle East: Switzerland welcomes the release of hostages in the UN Security Council
The UN Security Council today discussed the still urgent situation in the Middle East in the presence of various ministers. Ambassador Thomas Gürber, Head of the FDFA's UN Division, represented Switzerland. At the beginning of the debate, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the Security Council that the trend of the increasingly deteriorating situation in the Middle East must be reversed.
Thomas Gürber referred to the Security Council resolution on the protection of children adopted on 15 November. It represents an important first step by the Council in the current conflict and calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the protection of the civilian population.
Switzerland welcomes the release of the hostages and thanks the states involved for their mediation efforts as well as the ICRC for its role in implementing the hostages’ release. Ambassador Gürber reiterated that Switzerland is calling for the release of all hostages. For this to succeed, humanitarian pauses are important, as called for by the Council in its resolution. Thomas Gürber emphasised that the humanitarian pauses must be extended for this purpose and to provide humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
Humanitarian aid is vital, but it is not a sustainable solution to the conflict. Switzerland will continue to work in the Security Council to promote consensus and a political solution to the conflict. The two-state solution, in which the Israeli and Palestinian populations can live side by side in peace, security and dignity, is the only basis for peace and stability in the Middle East.
In addition, Thomas Gürber recalled Switzerland's position on the current conflict in the Council: it strongly condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas since 7 October, recognises Israel's right to ensure its security and defence and calls on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and to allow rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.
20.11.2023 – UN Security Council focuses on development cooperation and peacebuilding
On 20 November, the UN Security Council will hold an open debate on the link between development cooperation and peacebuilding. This link has long been a focus of Switzerland's international cooperation. Switzerland contributes its expertise to the discussions in the Council brings its expertise to the discussions to underline that a state's economic development does not automatically lead to peace. What is needed instead is to address social inequalities and strengthen the resilience of communities. Achieving peaceful coexistence also requires dialogue between different population groups and between citizens and decision-makers. The gains made through this process must be consolidated through political dialogue with local authorities. Furthermore, Switzerland has been seconding peace and development advisers to the UN since 2016. These advisers act as a bridge between the UN's peace and development activities in the field, supporting local actors in the prevention of violent conflict. Under the following link examples show the SDC's substantial contribution to peace and security in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
15.11.2023 – UN Security Council adopts resolution focusing on the protection of children in the Middle East
After weeks of wrangling, the UN Security Council today adopted a resolution on the protection of children in the Middle East. The text of the resolution, which was introduced by Malta as chair of the Council's Working Group on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict, calls for the protection of children through temporary humanitarian pauses.
According to the resolution, the purpose of the pauses should include the provision of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, particularly children, the evacuation of sick and injured children from the Gaza Strip and the recovery of missing children. To ensure this, the resolution calls for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for UN humanitarian organizations, their partners and the ICRC during pauses in the fighting.
The resolution adopted by the Security Council also demanded that all parties comply with international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians, in particular children, which is a priority of Swiss foreign policy. The text also calls for the release of all hostages held by Hamas since October 7.
Switzerland supported the resolution because it takes into account the urgent humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The resolution reflects four Swiss priorities: (1) humanitarian pauses for rapid humanitarian access; (2) respect for international humanitarian law; (3) release of hostages; and (4) prevention of the escalation of the conflict. The concise text of the resolution, which is geared to operational needs, deliberately refrains from political contextualization, especially since it proved impossible to reach a consensus on this during the negotiations. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as the depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of children in conflicts is of particular concern to Switzerland. According to international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, civilians, including children, must be protected in conflicts. In its explanation of vote, Switzerland reiterated the position of the Federal Council on the current conflict in the Middle East, in particular its condemnation of terrorist acts by Hamas and its recognition of Israel's right to ensure its defense and security. The so-called "statement after the vote" gives states at the UN the opportunity to present their detailed positions and assessments in addition to the vote.
After four failed attempts to adopt a resolution on the Middle East since October 7, today's resolution is a testament to the Security Council's ability to act and take decisions. At the same time, the resolution sends an important signal to all actors and affected civilians on the ground. The last time the Security Council was able to adopt a resolution on the Middle East was in 2016. Switzerland will continue to advocate in the UN Security Council for measures that go beyond the protection of the civilian population and address the overall situation in the current conflict in the Middle East - namely a resolution that condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas, calls for the release of all hostages, recognizes Israel's right to ensure its security and demands rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.
15.11.2023 – The UN Security Council renews four resolutions
The UN Security Council renewed four resolutions on 14 and 15 November 2023. These include the mandates of the UN peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan (UNISFA), the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the sanctions regime for Yemen. Switzerland supported the renewal of all four resolutions in the Council because they are in line with its priorities for Swiss membership of the Security Council.
MINUSCA in the Central African Republic
While the security situation in certain areas of the Central African Republic has improved, ongoing armed clashes continue to jeopardise the civilian population. MINUSCA is making an important contribution to advancing peace efforts in the country and ensuring better protection for the civilian population. Switzerland is represented on the ground by an SDC cooperation office in Bangui. In cooperation with the government and MINUSCA, it promotes compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights.
UNISFA in the Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan
The resource-rich Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan was the scene of deadly clashes following South Sudan's declaration of independence in 2011, displacing over 100,000 people. UNISFA ensures the protection of the civilian population on the ground and access for humanitarian actors.
ATMIS in Somalia
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) mandated by the UN Security Council, supports the local authorities in maintaining peacekeeping operations. The aim of ATMIS is to enable the Somali security forces to maintain security in the country independently.
Yemen sanctions regime
The UN Security Council's sanctions in relation to the conflict in Yemen are intended to support ongoing political efforts to achieve a ceasefire and peace in the country. The sanctions include asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against sanctioned individuals and entities.
14.11.2023 – UN police forces help protect civilians in conflict zones
Police officers play an important role in UN peacekeeping missions mandated by the UN Security Council. Police officers oftentimes work under very difficult conditions to maintain public order and protect the civilian population in conflict zones. At the UN Security Council's annual open debate on police components in peacekeeping missions, Switzerland emphasised their importance for peace and security and underlined several areas which would allow police components to carry out their work even more effectively.
This includes support for the training of local police forces in the host countries of UN peacekeeping missions. Local authorities must be empowered to ensure the security of their population. Specifically, for example, the capacity of the local police to maintain public order during elections must be strengthened. Elements of the UN police also act as an early warning mechanism. Thanks to their daily interactions with the population, they have an extensive network at their disposal. Against this backdrop, it is crucial that police personnel are able to communicate with the local population and receive context-specific training. Such training can ensure that the information received is used adequately in the mission-planning phase, for example to protect the civilian population. Preparing police commanders for the numerous challenges they face in conflict zones is key to ensuring that such important decisions can be made. Switzerland therefore hosts an annual two-week course for police commanders in UN peacekeeping missions, which is currently being held in Stans, Nidwalden.
Switzerland actively contributes to the activities of the police in the UN and detaches police officers to peace missions, for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan. In addition to their professional expertise, the language skills of Swiss police personnel are also an important asset. As part of its activities at the UN, Switzerland will continue to contribute to the effectiveness of peace missions.
10.11.2023 – Middle East: Humanitarian actors must be able to carry out their work safely and effectively
In light of the situation in the Middle East, the UN Security Council met again today for an emergency meeting. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, provided the Council with first-hand information on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
In accordance with its position, Switzerland condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism in the Council in the strongest terms, called for the unconditional release of all Hamas hostages and recognised Israel's right to ensure its defence and security. Switzerland also reminded the audience that all parties must abide by international humanitarian law.
International humanitarian law regulates the conduct of war and protects the victims of armed conflicts. It is universally applicable. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as a depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of the civilians is a central pillar of Switzerland's foreign policy and a priority for its membership of the UN Security Council. In the Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. It emphasised that the civilian population is in urgent need of aid and protection without water, electricity and essential services. International humanitarian law also requires the protection of medical facilities and humanitarian aid workers. Last Tuesday's incident, in which an ICRC convoy carrying aid supplies to the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza came under fire, highlights the insecure environment in which humanitarian organisations work in Gaza.
In the UN Security Council, Switzerland will continue to actively contribute to the Council taking urgent measures, such as calling for humanitarian pauses or truces, to ensure rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. This should enable the ICRC and other humanitarian actors to mitigate the worsening health crisis in Gaza with their work. At yesterday's international humanitarian conference in Paris, Switzerland confirmed that it is earmarking additional funds totalling CHF 90 million for emergency humanitarian aid in the entire region.
06.11.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in Gaza
At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza and the fact that hospitals, UN buildings and other civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip have been hit. It emphasised that the obligations under international humanitarian law are clear: civilians and civilian objects must be protected, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, Switzerland reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of the acts of terrorism and rocket fire by Hamas against the Israeli population in accordance with its position. It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas in Gaza. Switzerland recognises Israel's right to ensure its defense and security and recalls that all parties are obliged to comply with international humanitarian law. In light of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, it called for the rapid and unhindered delivery of basic goods and services to all civilians in need.
02.11.2023 – Bosnia and Herzegovina: Unanimous extension for EUFOR ALTHEA
On 2 November 2023, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution to authorise the EU mission EUFOR ALTHEA for another year. The core task of the mission is to support the authorities in maintaining a secure environment in the country. This year's negotiations took place under Switzerland's leadership. In this role, it facilitated dialogue between all parties. Switzerland welcomes the unanimous extension of the authorisation as a strong signal in support of stability and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Through its presence, EUFOR ALTHEA makes an important contribution to peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina and helps stabilise the Western Balkans region. In addition to maintaining a secure environment, the mission's mandate includes the implementation of and compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement and working with the Bosnian authorities to achieve these goals. In line with its long-standing commitment to peacebuilding, Switzerland will continue to support the mission with experts.
The security situation in the country has remained fragile since the 1992-1995 war. Since 2004, up to 20 Swiss Armed Forces personnel have been taking part in the EUFOR ALTHEA mission in the Balkan state. They are stationed at known and potential conflict sites and are in contact with the local population and the authorities. This gives them access to information that EUFOR uses to assess the security situation in the country.
Within its international cooperation, Switzerland supports Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of advancing reforms and creating new perspectives for the population. In the Security Council, Switzerland assured Bosnia and Herzegovina of its continued support on the path to a united and peaceful future.
31.10.2023 – UN Security Council renews four peacekeeping missions
The UN Security Council yesterday and today adopted four resolutions renewing UN peacekeeping missions. These are the UN missions in Colombia, Libya, Western Sahara and Somalia. Switzerland supported all four resolutions in the Council.
UNVMC in Colombia
The UN Monitoring Mission in Colombia (UNVMC) is mandated to monitor and verify the peace agreement between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government. As part of its long-standing peace policy in Colombia, Switzerland has assumed an official mandate as guarantor state for the peace negotiations at the request of the Colombian government and the rebel group EMC FARC-EP (Estado Mayor Central de las FARC-EP).
UNSMIL in Libya
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been active in the country since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi's authoritarian regime in 2011. UNSMIL's tasks include supporting the Libyan government in establishing the rule of law and organising democratic elections.
MINURSO in Western Sahara
The UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) monitors the ceasefire between the Moroccan government and the Polisario independence movement. MINURSO also supports the reduction of the threat posed by mines. Members of the Swiss Armed Forces are active in Western Sahara in the framework of the United Nations Mine Action Service in humanitarian demining.
UNSOM in Somalia
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) supports the Somali government in securing peace and establishing the rule of law. UNSOM also helps the government to establish mechanisms for strengthening human rights and to involve women in political processes. In addition, the mission monitors human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law in Somalia and assists in their investigation.
30.10.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in the Middle East
Against the background of the intensification of hostilities last weekend, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today. Switzerland stressed that calling on all parties to protect the civilian population is and must remain a central task of the UN Security Council. Civilians must be protected in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Switzerland strongly condemns the acts of terrorism and the taking of hostages by Hamas, demands the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages and expresses its solidarity with the Israeli population. Three weeks after the start of hostilities, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The population lacks basic necessities such as water and electricity. Against this background, Switzerland calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.
International humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, is universal. It provides the legal framework for the protection of civilians in conflict. Switzerland recognizes Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security. It recalls that international humanitarian law takes into account legitimate needs such as security and military necessity and must therefore be respected without exception. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.
In the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, Switzerland has in recent weeks called for measures such as humanitarian pauses or a humanitarian ceasefire. It once again called on the Security Council to work together to end the violence. Four resolutions on the Middle East have failed in the Council in the last two weeks. Switzerland will continue to work actively for joint action by the Security Council and for a peaceful solution.
25.10.2023 – Again no agreement on the resolution on the situation in the Middle East
On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft US resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The adoption of the resolution failed due to a veto by Russia and China. Switzerland supported the resolution because it would have represented a step by the Security Council to protect civilians in the Middle East and emphasized humanitarian pauses as a measure for humanitarian access. Switzerland was actively involved in the negotiations leading up to the vote to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian pauses were enshrined in the text of the resolution.
The Council also voted on a Russian draft resolution that failed to secure a majority. Switzerland abstained. The Russian proposal called for a humanitarian ceasefire, which Switzerland supported in principle, but in the text of the resolution, which had not been discussed among Council members beforehand, contained elements that did not correspond to the Swiss position and assessments.
The day before, during an open debate in the UN Security Council, Switzerland once again condemned the acts of terror, the indiscriminate firing of rockets against the Israeli population and the taking of hostages by Hamas. It also underlined Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security and called on all parties to respect international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to take measures to de-escalate. Switzerland also called on all actors to remove obstacles to the swift, safe and unhindered delivery of aid to Gaza.
The protection of civilians is a top priority for Switzerland as the Depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and a priority for its membership in the Security Council. "Civilians in Israel and in Gaza must be protected at all costs. We are committed to a Security Council that makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority, especially in urgent cases," said Swiss Ambassador Maya Tissafi, Head of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division and Head of the Middle East Task Force, in New York.
In her remarks, Switzerland underscored its commitment since last week for the Council to adopt a resolution that would allow forhumanitarian pauses and rapid, safe and unhindered access for aid to Gaza. Last week, two resolutions failed due to a lack of votes and a US veto.
Switzerland remains convinced that humanitarian pauses are urgently needed to provide the civilian population with essential goods and to allow humanitarian organisations access to the Gaza Strip in accordance with international humanitarian law. To achieve this, the Security Council must find a solution. Switzerland continues to advocate for this.
Switzerland calls on the UN Security Council to step up its efforts to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians.Against the background of the current escalation of the conflict, urgent humanitarian measures are important. The goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution must not be lost sight of.
25.10.2023 – Women's rights must be protected so that they can contribute to sustainable peace
The UN Security Council discussed the challenges related to women's participation in peace processes during an open debate on "Women, Peace and Security". Switzerland stated in the Council that it wants to strengthen the voices of women representatives of civil society. Their recommendations should be better taken into account in the Council's debates and decisions. At the debate, Switzerland therefore reiterated important recommendations from women in civil society, whom it had invited as briefers during its presidency in May. Women all over the world must have the right to the freedom to participate fully in political processes. For sustainable peace, women must be able to participate equally in peace negotiations and peacebuilding. For this to succeed, it is imperative that women and girls are protected from violence and human rights violations. In the Council, Switzerland called on all states to prevent violations of women's rights, including those in the digital space. All people share the same human rights, regardless of whether they belong to a national, ethical, religious or linguistic minority.
For years, Switzerland has been committed to "Women, Peace and Security" as part of the National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The Peace and Human Rights Division of the FDFA (PHRD) is committed to the equal participation of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in several countries. This includes, for example, the establishment of a national network of women mediators and peace activists in Lebanon. Through the civil society initiative "Women's Peace Tables" (WPT), women in Colombia, Nepal and the Philippines are supported in participating in the official peace processes in their countries.
The SDC also supports the "Mujeres Resilientes" (Resilient Women) programme in El Salvador, for example, as part of its international cooperation. In the video, Camille Flückiger, who works in the Cooperation Office in Managua (Nicaragua), explains how Switzerland empowers women on the ground to tackle local conflicts and thus contribute to peace.
23.10.2023 – Kosovo: Switzerland calls on both parties to return to dialogue
The situation in Kosovo was the focus of a UN Security Council meeting today, attended by Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. Tensions and insecurity in Kosovo have increased since the last Council meeting. A Kosovar police officer was killed and several people were injured in an attack on the Kosovar police this September. De-escalation is therefore necessary in view of a serious return to the normalisation process.
In view of this, Switzerland condemned the recent violence in Kosovo in the Security Council and called on all parties to cooperate. In order to implement political solutions, inflammatory rhetoric or the increased stationing of troops near the border should be avoided. Switzerland called on the parties to engage in the EU-led dialogue and to implement their obligations under the agreement to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Switzerland maintains close relations with Kosovo for more than thirty years and is home to a large diaspora. Switzerland actively supports the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and contributes to building trust. A central pillar in the reconciliation process is coming to terms with the past. Among other things, Switzerland actively supports both states in the search for and identification of missing persons. As part of its international cooperation, Switzerland promotes inclusive and democratic governance in Kosovo and creates decent jobs. In this way, it contributes to future prospects for the whole of society.
In addition, the Swiss contingent in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) is the largest Swiss contingent in a peace mission, with up to 195 members of the armed forces. KFOR has its origins in a UN Security Council resolution from 1999. KFOR pursues the goal of ensuring the freedom of movement of the population and providing a stable environment. Swiss Armed Forces personnel are making a concrete contribution on the ground so that KFOR can achieve this goal. At today's meeting of the Security Council, Switzerland underlined its support for KFOR as a guarantor of security.
18.10.2023 – No agreement on resolution on humanitarian situation in the Middle East in the UN Security Council
Civilians in Israel and Gaza are the first victims of the renewed outbreak of the conflict in the Middle East. Thousands of civilians in Israel and Gaza, including hundreds of children, have already lost their lives. Against this backdrop, the UN Security Council voted on 18 October 2023 on a resolution introduced by Brazil condemning Hamas attacks and calling on the parties to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Switzerland supported the resolution. Due to a US veto, the adoption of the resolution failed. The draft resolution introduced by Brazil aimed to achieve consensus in the Security Council and contained important elements from Switzerland's point of view. For this reason, Switzerland regrets that this important resolution was not adopted today.
On Monday evening, a resolution text submitted by Russia had failed due to a lack of majority. This text did not contain a clear reference to international humanitarian law – one of Switzerland's priorities in the Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote.
Switzerland continues to advocate for solutions in the Security Council so that the Council fulfils its responsibility to protect the civilian population in the Middle East. However, it also remains active outside the Security Council at multilateral and bilateral level to improve the humanitarian situation in the Middle East.
Emergency meeting: Explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza
Immediately after the vote on the resolution, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. According to the UN, hundreds of people were killed and many injured. Switzerland recalls that hospitals and civilians must always be protected under international humanitarian law. A thorough investigation must be carried out.
Switzerland advocates in the Security Council for improvement of the situation in the Middle East
In recent days, Switzerland has taken a position on the escalating situation in the Middle East in various closed sessions of the UN Security Council. Last Friday, it once again condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism and recognised Israel's legitimate desire for national defence and security. It called on both parties to respect international law and underlined the need for humanitarian and medical aid to be delivered quickly and unhindered. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated these two objectives: on the one hand, the condemnation of terrorist acts and the protection of the civilian population, and on the other, respect for international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights.
Switzerland remains convinced that a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means. This must be based on a two-state solution negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.
12.10.2023 – The UN Security Council focuses on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations
Six days after it travelled to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) for the annual meeting with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the Security Council held a meeting on close cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. "Strategic partnership and regular exchanges between the UN and the AU are necessary and essential for efficient and effective multilateralism", said Adrian Hauri in New York on behalf of Switzerland.
The United Nations and regional organisations such as the AU bring different strengths and perspectives, as well as unique approaches to issues of common concern. At their annual meeting, members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council expressed concern about the evolving security situation on the African continent, and the myriad threats to peace, security and stability. In Addis Ababa, Switzerland joined other countries in expressing its views on the current situation in the Sahel region.
In New York, Switzerland gave assurances that it would continue its long-standing support for the African peace and security architecture. "It is our intention to further promote exchanges and mutual understanding between the UN and the AU", said Adrian Hauri.
The African Union Peace and Security Council will travel to New York in October 2024. This meeting will therefore take place under the forthcoming Swiss Presidency of the Security Council.
08.10.2023 – Meeting on the Middle East: Switzerland calls for respect for international law
The Security Council met today for closed consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Switzerland condemned the shocking attacks, including acts of terror and rocket fire by Hamas against Israel. It called for the immediate release of those taken hostage who are currently being held in Gaza. It also deplored all civilian casualties and called on all parties to protect the civilian population and to respect the obligations of international humanitarian law. Switzerland underlined that de-escalation is the priority. It called on those responsible to do everything possible to bring about a ceasefire and avoid a regional escalation. It made this call also to those States that can exert influence on the parties involved.
07.10.2023 – Emergency meeting on the escalation of violence in Israel
Against the background of the escalation of violence in Israel, the UN Security Council will meet for an emergency meeting on 8 October 2023. Switzerland supports that the Council swiftly addresses the current situation in the Middle East. It condemns today's rocket fire by Hamas and the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Civilians must be protected and international law must be respected at all times. Switzerland calls for an immediate end to the violence in order to avoid further escalation.
02.10.2023 – Security crisis in Haiti: UN Security Council authorises international police mission
At its meeting today, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of police forces by third countries to Haiti. Haiti is facing a worsening security crisis caused by rampant gang violence. Between January and June 2023 alone, gang members committed over 2,000 homicides. Sexual violence and kidnappings have taken on epidemic proportions. The Haitian national police do not have sufficient resources to contain the escalating violence. Moreover, the humanitarian situation is alarming: according to the FAO, around five million people, almost half of Haiti's population, are facing food insecurity. The threat of famine is looming. Severe flooding caused by torrential rains and an earthquake in June exacerbated the situation.
With its decision of 2 October 2023, the UN Security Council responded to a request from the Haitian government. The UN secretary-general recently issued a report calling on the Security Council to adopt various measures to improve security in Haiti. A key recommendation includes the establishment of a multinational police support mission, which Kenya has agreed to lead. During the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated in particular for respect for international law and human rights to be guaranteed and for measures to be taken to prevent sexual abuse, and for a monitoring mechanism to be set up in the mission.
On 6 September 2023, the Federal Council gave its preliminary approval for the authorisation of a security support mission for Haiti. It had issued guidelines for the negotiations in New York. In exceptional cases and under certain conditions, the mission should also be able to use force to fulfil its mandate of supporting the local police in restoring public order and security. Based on the modalities agreed between the Federal Council and the foreign policy committees of the National Council and the Council of States to involve Parliament during Switzerland's term on the Security Council, the chairs of the foreign affairs committees were consulted on this matter in accordance with Art. 152 para. 4 of the Parliament Act.
29.09.2023 – UN Security Council to combat human trafficking off the coast of Libya
The UN Security Council today decided to renew the resolution on combating migrant smuggling and human trafficking off the coast of Libya. UN member states and regional organisations active there will thus be authorised to inspect and seize vessels in the high seas if they have reasonable suspicion that they are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking from Libya towards Europe. In the Council, Switzerland supported the annual renewal of the resolution, which was first introduced in 2015, because it is an important instrument for combating human trafficking and protecting human lives.
Libya is a destination and transit country for migrants from all over Africa. The conflict in Sudan, which broke out in April 2023, is expected to exacerbate the situation. The number of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya is constantly increasing. According to a report by UN Secretary-General Guterres, almost 8500 people, including women and children, were intercepted and returned to Libya in the first half of 2023. Around 750 people drowned in the sea and around 950 were reported missing.
21.09.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh
In light of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting. Switzerland is deeply concerned by the military operations launched by Azerbaijan earlier this week. In the Council, Switzerland stressed the importance of humanitarian access and is ready with its good offices to contribute to dialogue and sustainable peace, if Armenia and Azerbaijan agree.
20.09.2023 – President Berset represents Switzerland at Ukraine debate
President Berset took part in a debate on Ukraine in the Security Council. The debate took place under the Albanian chairmanship during the opening week of the UN General Assembly and in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj. The Swiss President underlined the central importance of the UN Charter for peace and security in the world. However, the number of conflicts is increasing and with it the suffering of the civilian population. Alain Berset condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. It is a striking example of a breach of the UN Charter principles. The President of the Swiss Confederation called on Russia to cease all hostilities and immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
The consequences of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine are being felt around the world. Food security is in jeopardy, the energy sector is affected and nuclear risks are increasing. That is why strong multilateralism and mutual trust are more important than ever to achieve peace in Ukraine.
The task of rebuilding Ukraine in accordance with the Lugano Principles is immense. Switzerland shows solidarity with the Ukrainian people in many ways. Among other things, it supports humanitarian demining with expertise and material supplies, and plans to further expand this commitment. The President also called for a return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
20.09.2023 – The cohesion of non-permanent members is important for an effective Security Council
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis represented Switzerland at a joint press stakeout of the ten elected non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (E10). UN Security Council news overview. The E10 make up two thirds of the Security Council. As a Security Council decision – on a resolution, for example – requires nine affirmative votes, the E10 are key to the Security Council being able to carry out its task of maintaining peace and security in the world.
In their joint press stakeout, the E10 underlined their cohesion and commitment to multilateralism: "We will continue to play a constructive role with the aim of building bridges and finding meaningful compromises on all the issues the Security Council deals with. We have seen the significant peacekeeping measures that the Security Council can take when it is united." During meetings held last August on Lake Geneva, the E10 deepened their cooperation. "An efficient, transparent and effective Security Council is more important than ever in today's world. I am all the more pleased about the cohesion of the E10 who are pursuing this goal together," said Cassis following the event in New York.
19.09.2023 – First delivery of humanitarian goods to Syria via Bab-al-Hawa since July
Nearly twenty trucks loaded with humanitarian goods crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at Bab-al-Hawa on 19 September for the first time since last July. Switzerland welcomes the fact that humanitarian aid to north-western Syria via Bab-al-Hawa is continued. Over four million people rely on these vital supplies.
The renewal of the Cross-Border Humanitarian Mechanism through Bab-al-Hawa failed on 11 July 2023 due to a UN Security Council veto by Russia. The humanitarian situation across Syria remains precarious and it is important that UN agencies have humanitarian access to all regions of Syria. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland continues to advocate for the implementation of the agreement on the continued use of the Bab-al-Hawa border crossing between the UN and the Syrian government.
14.09.2023 – Partnerships with the private sector to make humanitarian aid more effective
More than 100 armed conflicts around the world characterise the current era. The civilian population suffers the most. The number of displaced people has more than doubled in the last ten years. The number of people in need has more than quintupled. While needs are increasing, funding for humanitarian aid, which is cruelly lacking, is decreasing. Today, under the Presidency of Albania, the UN Security Council discussed ways of addressing this challenge. Indeed, humanitarian needs are growing, due to the negative effects of climate change, weak governance and armed conflicts, as well as the consequences of Covid-19. On the other hand, every conflict that is settled peacefully helps to reduce humanitarian needs. The UN Security Council and increased cooperation with the private sector play important roles in this regard.
At the Security Council, Switzerland stressed that the international community must anticipate and invest to better identify conflict risks and provide humanitarian aid. New technologies can support this. "They make early warning systems more efficient. Furthermore, the importance of a stable and secure internet connection should not be underestimated. This enables people to get information and bring the necessary aid quickly to those in need," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, in New York. This is why it is also crucial to strengthen partnerships between states and private actors in the humanitarian field, as their potential has not yet been fully exploited.
Switzerland supports various projects in this area as part of its international cooperation. These include, for example, cash payment programs for victims of natural events or disasters. In cooperation with local private financial institutions, they receive cash to buy urgently needed goods. These are purchased locally, enabling local shop owners or farmers to continue their business despite the difficult circumstances. In this way, Switzerland also contributes to curbing the displacement of affected people.
The expertise and networks of private companies and organisations based in conflict areas can make an important contribution to the humanitarian response of states and international organisations. "However, we must never forget that all measures related to private sector engagement must be based on humanitarian principles and human rights," Ambassador Baeriswyl stressed in the Security Council.
07.09.2023 – Strengthening UN peacekeeping missions for effective and efficient peacebuilding
75 years ago, the UN Security Council sent the first peacekeeping mission, UNTSO, to maintain the ceasefire in the Middle East. Since then, over one million people have served in more than 70 UN peace missions. Millions of civilian lives around the world have been saved as a result. Today, twelve missions are active, and the nature of conflicts has changed radically since 1948. The UN Security Council today exchanged views on how UN peacekeeping missions need to adapt to fulfil their missions in an increasingly complex environment. The Blue Helmets do valuable work in many conflict regions under difficult conditions. Among other things, they monitor ceasefires, provide access for humanitarian actors through their presence and support political stabilisation processes so that sustainable peace can be secured.
During the Council meeting, Switzerland stressed the need to strengthen partnerships with regional organisations, in particular the African Union (AU). The peace missions led by the AU should also be able to react more flexibly to unforeseen events. In addition, the protection of the civilian population should always be at the centre of a peace mission. "Switzerland is eager to advance the discussion on the necessary reforms of the peace mission," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Swiss UN Ambassador in New York. In addition, Switzerland also stressed the importance of the effectiveness of UN peace missions. Against this backdrop, Switzerland called in the Council for an even stronger coordination of planning, budget and performance evaluation so that UN peace missions can make an effective and efficient contribution to peacebuilding.
05.09.2023 – Good working methods are important for the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate
The UN Security Council held an open debate today on improving its working methods. This is an important topic for Switzerland: "Strengthening efficiency" is one of the four thematic priorities the Federal Council identified for its Council membership. During the debate, Switzerland aligned itself to the joint statements of the ten elected Council members (E10) and the ACT Group. The Group advocates for a transparent, effective, efficient and inclusive UN Security Council.
The votes of the E10 are decisive to pass a resolution in the Council. A resolution requires nine votes in favour. In their joint statement, the E10 underlined the importance of adequate working methods for the Security Council to enable it to respond efficiently and transparently to current challenges in an increasingly complex geopolitical environment. To achieve this, the E10 emphasised, among other things, the willingness to compromise, the responsible use of the veto and a systematic inclusion of civil society in discussions. The joint declaration was preceded by a meeting of current and future Council members in Switzerland, where they deepened their cooperation to promote the effectiveness of the Council.
Switzerland coordinates the cross-regional ACT Group in New York, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. ACT's Council Statement underlines the need for the Security Council to act in a manner that is trustworthy to all UN member states and the billions of affected people on whose behalf it acts. "Nothing could be a better signal from the Council than the conscientious implementation of its own commitments." Against this backdrop, ACT underlined greater workload sharing among all Council members, for example through co-leadership on thematic and geographic dossiers, as well as exchanges with conflict-affected countries.
31.08.2023 – UN Security Council renews mandate of UN mission in Lebanon
The UN Security Council today renewed the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon UNIFIL for 12 months. UNIFIL was first deployed by the Council in 1978, making it one of the oldest operating UN missions.
The region along the so-called Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel is marked by recurring armed conflicts. The mission monitors the ceasefire along the Blue Line and contributes to reducing tensions. In this way, it makes a concrete contribution to the promotion of sustainable peace, a priority defined by the Federal Council for the Swiss membership in the Security Council. Switzerland also supported the strengthening of the mandate in the area of renewable energies, which mitigates climate-related risks. Switzerland supported the resolution in the Council.
28.08.2023 – Security Council meeting on the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission from Mali
On 30 June 2023, the UN Security Council decided to withdraw the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA from Mali by the end of the year, at the request of the Malian transition government. Now the Council has met again to discuss the progress made so far as well as the challenges of the withdrawal. The pullout raises the question of how certain important tasks of the mission can be continued as well as how its achievements can be maintained. These include the existing peace agreement and the protection of the civilian population. Since 2012, a security, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis has been steadily intensifying in Mali. Especially in the north and centre of the country, there are almost daily attacks against the civilian population, the Malian security forces or confrontations between armed groups, sometimes with a jihadist background. In June 2015, movements from the north and the Malian government signed a peace agreement in Algiers, whose implementation is being accompanied by MINUSMA, an engagement that is now coming to a close.
The Council meeting focused on ensuring an orderly withdrawal of MINUSMA and the uncertain future of Mali as of January 2024. Accordingly, Switzerland stressed in its statement that the implementation of the peace agreement and confidence-building measures are central. "Nine years of work, dialogue and efforts towards national reconciliation are at stake – first and foremost for the Malian people, but also for the entire Sahel region," underlined Adrian Hauri, Switzerland's deputy head of mission at the UN in New York.
Switzerland also stressed the importance of MINUSMA's important tasks being adequately continued by the Malian transition government and other regional actors. To this end, in-depth and inclusive talks are necessary so that concrete and implementable proposals for solutions are available by the end of the year. In its role in the Security Council as co-penholder for the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel UNOWAS – which also covers Mali – Switzerland is ready to actively support this process. "We welcome all the measures that have already been taken to cushion the impact of MINUSMA's withdrawal on the civilian population and to better meet humanitarian needs," Hauri said. The challenges are and remain extremely complex so close cooperation of all relevant actors with the UN and MINUSMA is central. On the one hand, to ensure the scheduled withdrawal of the mission and, on the other, to guarantee the security of MINUSMA personnel stationed in Mali until the withdrawal is complete.
22.08.2023 – Free and fair elections and the inclusion of women are central to Libya's future
The UN Security Council discusses the situation in Libya every two months. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been active in the country since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi's authoritarian regime in 2011. UNSMIL's tasks include supporting the Libyan government in establishing the rule of law and organising democratic elections.
The most recent elections, scheduled for December 2021, have been postponed indefinitely, as no consensus could be reached between the various Libyan actors on the electoral laws. "It is imperative that the outstanding issues are addressed. In order to create the necessary environment for free and fair elections, the actors involved must come to an agreement in the run-up to the elections," explained Riccarda Chanda, Switzerland's deputy head of mission at the UN in New York. To this end, Switzerland supports UNSMIL, including in its role as co-chair of the Berlin Process working group on international humanitarian law and human rights. The Berlin Process was launched in January 2020 to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Libya.
According to UN Secretary-General Guterres, the human rights situation in Libya is increasingly deteriorating. Excessive controls and bureaucratic restrictions imposed on civil society by the authorities and security actors are on the rise. "Switzerland supports the Secretary-General's call for these measures to be lifted," underlined Switzerland's representative on the Security Council. Furthermore, Switzerland is concerned about violations of the rights and abuse of women and girls; such abuses must not go unpunished. Addressing the Libyan authorities, Switzerland stressed in the UN Security Council that the participation of women in political processes must be safe and without intimidation. To this end, their freedom of movement and respect for their fundamental rights must also be guaranteed. Switzerland also expressed its concern about the recent violent clashes in Tripoli, in which people lost their lives. It calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights at all times.
17.08.2023 – First Security Council meeting on human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in six years
Today, the UN Security Council discussed the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in a formal and public briefing. This is the first time since 2017 that a discussion in this format has been possible in the Security Council. The DPRK's nuclear weapons and missile programmes, banned by numerous Security Council resolutions, pose a threat to international peace and security. The grave human rights situation of North Koreans is also linked with this.
According to a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights established in 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council for the DPRK, systematic and serious human rights violations continue to take place in the country. In the Security Council, Switzerland reminded the DPRK to respect universally applicable human rights. It also stressed that those responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable. In light of the DPRK's authoritarian government, the Security Council must consider all options to ensure that these violations do not go unpunished.
The range of human rights violations in the DPRK is extensive. "Torture, arbitrary detention and the forced removal of political prisoners to camps are just a few examples of serious and systematic violations. We also recall the DPRK's obligation to put an immediate end to all violations," said Adrian Hauri, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland's Mission to the UN in New York and Chargé d'affaires, at the Security Council.
"The grave human rights situation in the DPRK threatens stability and peace in the region and beyond," Hauri said in New York. The Security Council must therefore work for positive and sustainable change for the North Korean people, he said. Furthermore, Switzerland called on the DPRK to engage in dialogue and cooperation with international actors in order to put an end to the grave human rights violations and their humanitarian consequences.
03.08.2023 – No sustainable peace on an empty stomach
UN estimates suggest that up to 783 million people in the world were affected by hunger in 2022. This is 122 million more people than before COVID-19. For example, civilians in Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen – to name just a few contexts – are at acute risk of hunger. Russia's decision to suspend the Black Sea Grain Initiative will exacerbate the already precarious food insecurity in many parts of the world. Moreover, climate change has unpredictable and long-term consequences, affecting first the poorest and those already affected by war.
"War breeds hunger and hunger breeds war," Adrian Hauri, Deputy Chief of Switzerland's Mission to the UN in New York and Chargé d'affaires, told the UN Security Council on 3 August. Switzerland had discussed the interaction between armed conflicts, related violations of international law and food security in the Council during its own presidency in May at the high-level debate on the protection of civilians chaired by President Alain Berset. The focus at the time was on civilians' access to essential goods and basic services, such as food, water or medical care.
In adopting a resolution in 2018, the Security Council recognised the need to break the vicious cycle of armed conflict and food insecurity. At today's Council briefing on food security, which was organised by the USA, Switzerland underlined three fields of action to prevent famine in the context of armed conflict and violence:
On the one hand, parties to conflicts must mandatorily comply with international humanitarian law. This means, for example, that they must ensure the protection of civilian infrastructure such as markets or supply chains, refrain from mining farmland, provide the civilian population with access to clean water and guarantee unhindered humanitarian aid to those in need.
On the other hand, the fight against impunity of parties to the conflict who use starvation of the civilian population as a method of war must be pushed forward. This has also a preventive effect. Switzerland demands that those responsible for such crimes have to be held more accountable and that justice must be done for the victims of these inhumane crimes. Hauri also took the opportunity to promote the amendment to the Rome Statute initiated and pushed by Switzerland, according to which starvation can be punished as a war crime.
Moreover, food crises in conflict situations often have a female face. Women and girls are the ones who eat last and too little. At the same time, they also actively seek survival strategies and thus contribute to finding solutions. That is why Switzerland stressed in the Council that measures to improve food security should also take into account the gender perspective.
You can’t build sustainable peace on empty stomachs. "Political solutions to conflict must be part of our global approach to eliminating hunger, ensuring access to sufficient and adequate food for all, and promoting resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems," Hauri stressed in New York.
28.07.2023 – Protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations
The protection of civilians is one of the main responsibilities of UN peacekeeping missions. These missions usually operate in difficult contexts, facing a variety of security challenges. These include, for example, unstable conflict dynamics, serious violations of international law, restricted freedom of movement, disinformation or limited resources. On 28 July, the Security Council discussed with the commanders of the peacekeeping missions in South Sudan (UNMISS), Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) how the missions can address these challenges and improve the protection of civilians on site. "Unfortunately, civilians still represent the vast majority of victims of armed conflict, and their protection is therefore more necessary than ever," emphasised Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council. The protection of civilians is also a priority for Swiss membership in the Security Council.
Switzerland emphasised in the Council that UN peacekeeping missions should be less reactive with regard to the protection of civilians and should instead focus on the prevention of violations against civilians. Moreover, it made clear that this protection must also be guaranteed in transitional phases, such as in the case of the upcoming withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA). "The withdrawal of MINUSMA must under no circumstances lead to a deterioration in the condition of civilians: the Malian government must ensure that the functions previously carried out by the mission in this field are now taken over by itself," Baeriswyl said in New York.
The Swiss Armed Forces are active in peacekeeping missions, as are numerous other countries. Around 280 Swiss troops are deployed. Among other things, the Swiss Armed Forces are supporting the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in West Africa in humanitarian demining. In Kosovo, members of the armed forces are contributing to a safe and stable environment and the freedom of movement of the population. Swiss military observers are deployed in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. They monitor conflict-affected regions and exchange information with the authorities and the population in order to obtain relevant information for assessing the security situation. Switzerland also has a contingent of up to 20 police officers who serve in UN missions. In 2022, it deployed 16 of them. Their task is to support and train local police personnel in post-conflict transition periods. By doing so, Switzerland is contributing to peacekeeping, the respect of international law, and thus the protection of the civilian population.
18.07.2023 – On 25th anniversary of Rome Statute, Switzerland chairs UN Security Council meeting on the International Criminal Court
The states parties to the Rome Statute gathered on 17 July to commemorate the 25th anniversary of this founding document. They took part in a ministerial panel discussion on the ICC's strategic vision for the next decade. "With the creation of the ICC, an essential element of the multilateral architecture defending the rule of law came into being. The ICC deserves the unfailing support of the international community today, for the next decade and beyond," Corinne Cicéron Bühler assured the audience.
The 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute is an opportunity to celebrate a major achievement by the international community in the fight against impunity. This text established the ICC as an independent judicial body responsible for investigating the most serious crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. The commemorations raise the ICC's profile and help to strengthen the political support necessary for its mandate. The aim of the meeting was also to encourage those who have not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute and to reflect on its future.
The following day, UN member states discussed the ICC's contribution to maintaining international peace and security. The informal 'Arria formula' meeting on 18 July was chaired by Ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler, with the title of state secretary of the FDFA, and Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane, permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. It provided a forum for discussing the role and importance of the ICC in the fight against impunity worldwide. The meeting was also an opportunity for states to reaffirm their commitment to the Rome Statute. The president of the Assembly of States Parties, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, the executive director of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, Deborah Ruiz Verduzco, and representatives from academia and civil society presented their visions for the future of the ICC in terms of peace and security.
18.07.2023 – UN Security Council discusses the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence for international peace and security
Current developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to transform our societies. The UN Security Council has held a high-level meeting to examine the potential implications of AI for international peace and security. In its statement, Switzerland encourages the safe and responsible use of these new technologies.
The UN Security Council must take account of the impact of new technologies in today's world. For Switzerland, AI can be used, for example, to improve the analysis of conflict situations, aid early warning mechanisms and conflict prevention, and support mediation and peace-building activities. If abused, it could however create additional risks in terms of peace and security. "While it can represent a challenge because of its speed and apparent omniscience, artificial intelligence can and must serve peace," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York.
In view of the technological progress, Switzerland reiterated that existing international law applies to AI and must be respected. In addition, Switzerland proposed three avenues to minimise the risk of abuse of these new technologies. It began by referring to the need for a common framework shared by all stakeholders in the development and application of this technology. Secondly, any AI must be human-centred and guarantee transparency in terms of how it works and the data used. Finally, Switzerland called on developers and users, both governmental and non-governmental, to assume their responsibilities in ensuring that AI promotes equality and inclusion and combats all forms of discrimination.
Cutting-edge research can help pave the way for the use of artificial intelligence for peace, as illustrated by a prototype of an AI-assisted analysis tool developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Switzerland is also committed to finding solutions, in particular through the Swiss Call for Trust & Transparency, an initiative in which the private sector, academia and diplomacy are working together to seek timely and practical solutions to the risks associated with AI.
17.07.2023 – Switzerland expresses support for Ukraine's recovery process at UN Security Council
At a high-level meeting chaired by the UK foreign secretary and attended by Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, Switzerland reiterated its support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in accordance with international law. It also stressed the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law.
Switzerland calls for renewal of Black Sea Grain Initiative
At this meeting, Switzerland emphasised the importance of beginning work on recovery-related matters immediately. The recovery process was launched at the first Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) in Lugano in July 2022, organised jointly by Switzerland and Ukraine. The URC resulted in the adoption of the Lugano Principles, which all participating countries endorsed. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, who hosted last year's URC, stated unequivocally that the Ukrainian people could continue to count on Switzerland's support at the URC 2023 in London on 22 June for their country's recovery.
The extension of the Black Sea Initiative was another key topic of discussion, with Switzerland launching an urgent appeal for global food security. Switzerland deplores Russia's decision on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and hopes that they will be renewed in the near future. Since it was adopted in July 2022, this initiative has enabled more than 32 million tonnes of food to be exported to 45 countries on three continents. Through its good offices, Switzerland welcomes and supports the tireless efforts of the UN secretary-general and Turkey to find an agreement between the parties and advance this important initiative.
UN Charter: starting point for global, just and sustainable peace
Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York also called for the principles of the UN Charter to be upheld as the basis for a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace in Ukraine. "Switzerland is closely following the different peace initiatives for Ukraine, and emphasises that the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected," she added, referring to various initiatives adopted by the international community.
Switzerland has again expressed its support for the International Criminal Court and for measures and mechanisms aimed at delivering justice for victims and at rebuilding Ukraine, including the register of damage set up by the Council of Europe. Ambassador Baeriswyl also underscored the pressing need for justice at the General Assembly's annual debate on the situation in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories on 18 July.
Switzerland supports humanitarian demining
Pascale Baeriswyl also expressed Switzerland's concern about the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions in Ukraine. "As a State party to the Ottawa and Oslo Conventions, Switzerland calls on all States and parties to the conflict not to use these weapons", she told the Council. Switzerland is providing its expertise to support humanitarian demining in Ukraine and has just launched new mine action measures thanks to a supplementary credit approved by Parliament in the 2023 summer session. In 2023, Switzerland will provide at least CHF 15 million to Ukraine for humanitarian mine action.
14.07.2023 – Open debate on sexual violence in conflicts
On 14 July, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the topic of «Conflict-related sexual violence». The year 2023 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1820, which calls for a complete end to sexual violence in conflict and stresses the importance of ending impunity for such violence. Despite the progress made since then to implement this important resolution, sexual violence still affects thousands of people in conflicts every year, particularly women.
The UN Secretary General's Annual Report 2022 highlights 20 countries in which sexual violence is perpetrated. «Fifteen years after the adoption of Resolution 1820, sexual and gender-based violence in conflict persists, as does impunity. We must fully and sustainably implement the requirements that the Council set itself in this resolution», said Simon Geissbühler, Head of the FDFA’s Peace and Human Rights Division, at the debate organised by the United Kingdom.
During the open debate, Switzerland stressed that strengthening capacities and expertise of UN missions and national institutions was essential to preventing and deterring such crimes in the future. Furthermore, Switzerland has pointed out that the prevention of sexual violence also requires the inclusion of women in arms control and disarmament processes. The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons increases the risk of conflict-related sexual violence.
Switzerland is also in favour of an approach that focuses on survivors and takes their needs into account. «Without protection against sexual violence, there can be no equal participation. And, as we well know, the commitment of women is a precondition for lasting peace», concluded Simon Geissbühler.
14.07.2023 – Switzerland supports the renewal of the BINUH mandate in Haiti
The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a 12-month renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti ("BINUH"). Switzerland is in favour of this renewal in light of the increasingly precarious security situation in the country.
Haiti is in the midst of a serious political, security and humanitarian crisis. Numerous gangs control most of the capital Port-au-Prince and are increasingly terrifying the population with murders, kidnappings and rapes. The authorities, for their part, are in a weak position as crimes escalate. The Council meeting took place two years after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
The UN Secretary-General's latest report, published this month, attests to the scale of the crisis. In these difficult circumstances, "the Council must show unity in renewing the mandate of BINUH to enable it to fulfil its mission effectively", asked Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York. BINUH's work on the ground is essential, in that it strives to support the Haitian authorities against impunity and to lay the foundations for lasting peace.
11.07.2023 – UN Security Council: extension of UN cross-border aid in Syria vetoed
On 11 July 2023, the UN Security Council was not able to renew the cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism in Syria for the time being. The resolution was vetoed by Russia.
The Council's resolution on cross-border aid has allowed UN agencies humanitarian access to north-western Syria since 2013, via the Turkish-Syrian border crossing Bab al-Hawa. More than four million people are dependent on this aid in this region.
Switzerland and Brazil are co-penholders in the Security Council for Syria's humanitarian dossier. Their draft resolution called for a 9-month extension of the mechanism, based on the analysis and urgent recommendations of the UN Secretary-General, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Aid and the specialised agencies and organisations active on the ground. The resolution was vetoed by Russia.
In the run-up to the vote, Switzerland advocated a twelve-month extension, an even broader proposal than the current resolution on the cross-border aid mechanism. Due to differing positions within the Council, an extension by nine months was the best possible solution to ensure that people in need receive the vital support they require effectively and without delay.
The UN General Assembly will address the issue within 10 days, based on a UN General Assembly resolution of April 2022. According to this resolution, following the exercise of the veto by one or more permanent members of the Security Council, a meeting will be convened to address the situation.
Switzerland regrets the uncertainty this creates for the affected local population. Switzerland stays in contact with all Security Council members and humanitarian actors to facilitate, in a transparent and inclusive way an early compromise that will enable continued cross-border humanitarian access to north-western Syria.
05.07.2023 – More must be done for the well-being of children in armed conflicts
On 5 July, the topic of "Children and Armed Conflict" was at the heart of an open debate of the UN Security Council. The annual report of the UN Secretary-General on this topic was presented. The Council has so far adopted 13 resolutions that provide a framework and important instruments for the protection of children. Since 2005, more than 150,000 children have been liberated from armed groups or forces as a result. But more needs to be done. In 2022, over 27'000 serious violations of children's rights were verified in various armed conflicts. These include killings and mutilations, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. The report includes a list of warring parties that systematically commit such grave violations of children's rights.
At the open debate, Switzerland underlined areas where progress is needed to better protect children in armed conflicts. First, the instruments developed by the Security Council to strengthen accountability for serious violations of children's rights must be applied in a credible, independent and transparent manner. In this context, for example, the mention of Myanmar's armed forces and the inclusion of Russia's armed forces in the list of the latest report is important. Switzerland also advocated for more measures to monitor and prevent serious violations of children's rights. Second, Switzerland condemned attacks on schools and hospitals as well as their military use. After all, access to education is a cornerstone of sustainable peace. Third, Switzerland stressed the importance of long-term reintegration programmes for children who were formerly associated with armed groups or armed forces. Such programmes would also have to offer economic prospects and address the needs of girls in order to enable sustainable integration of the affected children into civilian life and to prevent recruiting again.
“Children, with their creativity, ambition and recommendations, which we have listened to carefully, can change the world. Or, in the words of Graça Machel: Children are a unifying force capable of bringing people to common ethical grounds," Switzerland's UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl underlined at the open debate in New York.
20.06.2023 – MINUSCA is central to the protection of civilians in the Central African Republic
Today, the UN Security Council discussed the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Despite several peace agreements, there is an armed conflict in the country that regularly results in numerous deaths and injuries - including among the civilian population, whose protection is MINUSCA's priority. Over 3 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid in the country.
Switzerland underlined at the Council meeting, that the role of women in political processes is central to building sustainable peace in the Central African Republic. Despite improvements in the security situation in some regions, armed groups continue to engage in violence. This hampers humanitarian access and increases the suffering of the population. Their protection must be guaranteed. In addition, the fight against impunity must be stepped up.
Promoting sustainable peace and protecting civilians are priorities for Switzerland in the Security Council and core concerns of its foreign policy. "We cannot consolidate peace in the Central African Republic as long as part of the population continues to be affected by violence on a daily basis. The response to insecurity in the country lies in inclusive political processes, based on international law, guaranteeing women's rights and creating a safe and respectful environment for their participation," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.
Switzerland is represented through a cooperation office in the capital Bangui since August 2022. Switzerland's engagement on the ground focuses on the protection of the civilian population as well as compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights. Eric Marclay, head of the Swiss representation, addresses in an interview Switzerland's cooperation with MINUSCA and its importance for the people in the Central African Republic.
13.06.2023 – Climate change can increase the vicious circle of tensions and conflicts
FDFA State Secretary Livia Leu represented Switzerland today at an open debate of the UN Security Council organised by the United Arab Emirates. The debate focused on the topic of Climate, Peace and Security. “Addressing climate security" is a priority for Switzerland for its Council membership in 2023 and 2024. In the Security Council, Switzerland informally co-chairs the Group of Experts on Climate and Security, together with the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique.
The effects of climate change, such as droughts, floods and other natural disasters, threaten the livelihoods of people worldwide. This undermines stability and security in many countries and regions. Armed conflicts are prevalent in more than half of the states most affected by climate change. They are the most vulnerable to its consequences. "The most systemic threat to humanity remains climate change," emphasised State Secretary Leu in the Security Council.
Climate change can exacerbate the vicious cycle of tensions, fragility and conflict. "Climate security is one of the cornerstones of stability. Recognizing the undeniable link between climate change and security is therefore imperative. Our response must be innovative," State Secretary Leu told the Council.
In order to make concrete progress in the field of climate security, Livia Leu emphasised in the Council, on the one hand, the consideration of the effects of climate change in the prevention of conflicts. Science and new technologies have a central role to play here. For example, the use of early warning systems can be used to better anticipate climate-related risks. These combine the best available data on climate change and socio-economic factors to predict, for example, future food insecurity, displacement and conflict dynamics. On the other hand, Leu said that the UN Security Council's peacebuilding measures need to become more climate-sensitive. For example, climate advisors can support UN missions directly on the ground.
"Inaction is not an option. That's why this Council must act on the complex interplay between climate, peace and security. This is the only way to fulfill its mandate: to maintain international peace and security," underlined State Secretary Leu in New York.
06.06.2023 – Emergency meeting on the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam
The UN Security Council met on 6 June for an emergency session to discuss the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine. Switzerland expressed its deep concern about these new developments, which place an additional burden on the civilian population marked by Russia's ongoing military aggression. They further increase the burden on the civilian population suffering from Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke out yesterday via a media release, stating that the extent of the damage was still difficult to determine, but it was already clear that we are facing a humanitarian, economic and environmental catastrophe".
Thousands of people are affected by this disaster. In addition to the devastating short-term consequences in southern Ukraine, serious long-term consequences must also be expected. "Switzerland is concerned about the risks that massive flooding could pose to the environment, as well as to energy and food security, including water supplies," Adrian Dominik Hauri told the Security Council in New York.
This event is a sad example of the connection between water and the protection of civilians, which the UN Security Council, at the request of Switzerland and Mozambique, has already addressed in detail in March 2023. In particular, the fresh water supply in southern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, depends to a large extent on the Nova Kakhovka dam. There are also large agricultural areas in these regions. In this crisis situation, the protection of the civilian population must be paramount, as required by international humanitarian law. The protection of the environment in armed conflicts is also of central importance. Switzerland is ready to fully support the immediate response of the UN and humanitarian partners who, in coordination with the Ukrainian government, are doing everything in their power to provide vital assistance, including ensuring the supply of drinking water. All parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure humanitarian access to all persons in need of assistance.
The Nova Kakhovka dam is also central to the cooling system of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, on which the Security Council recently discussed during Switzerland's presidency under the leadership of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. The "seven pillars" defined by Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state, among other things, that the integrity of the plant and logistical supplies must be guaranteed at all times.
In view of the urgency and seriousness of the situation, Switzerland underlined in the Council that attacks on civilian infrastructure are unacceptable. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on civilian objects and provides special protection for dams. Switzerland calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Once again, Switzerland condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.
30.05.2023 – Switzerland advocates for the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant
Chaired by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the UN Security Council discussed on 30 May 2023 the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the presence of Ukraine. "We are all aware of the risks to the civilian population when a nuclear power plant is located in a war zone. It is our duty to protect the civilian population," Federal Councillor Cassis said in New York.
At the briefing, IAEA Director General Grossi presented five principles to the Council for the protection of the nuclear power plant in south-eastern Ukraine:
- no attacks of any kind from or against the nuclear power plant;
- no storage or stationing of heavy weapons or military personel at the plant;
- no threat to the offsite power supply;
- protection of all systems necessary for safe operation against attacks or acts of sabotage;
- no action that undermines these principles.
During the meeting, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and any attacks against civilian infrastructure. Switzerland again called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. It welcomed the IAEA's commitment to protecting civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine and called on all Council members to support the five principles proposed by the IAEA for protecting the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Federal Councillor Cassis called on Russia and Ukraine in particular to fully implement these five principles.
In consultation with the IAEA and the other Council members, Swiss diplomacy has been working in recent weeks to ensure that the meeting takes place. Switzerland recalled that the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is a matter of respect for international humanitarian law. Respecting and promoting this law is a priority for Switzerland and a pillar of its Good Offices.
Today's meeting is thematically linked to the Federal Council's priorities for Switzerland's seat on the Security Council. During the presidential month of May, several meetings were chaired by members of the Federal Council. On 3 and 4 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired an open debate focusing on mutual trust and a meeting on the cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On 23 May, President Alain Berset emphasised in the Council that the protection of civilians in armed conflict must not only exist on paper, but also be increasingly implemented in practice. For her part, Federal Councillor Viola Amherd chaired a session on the financing of peace missions in Africa on 25 May. Today's session will focus on the protection of civilians from nuclear disasters. With these and other geographical and thematic meetings, the Federal Council is on track in implementing its priorities. Overall, Switzerland draws a positive conclusion from this first Council Presidency.
30.05.2023 – UN Security Council extends mandate of UN Mission for Iraq and sanctions measures in South Sudan
The UN Security Council today extended unanimously the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). It advises and supports the Iraqi government and people in promoting inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation at the national and local levels, on the electoral process, on dialogue with its neighbours, and on the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reforms.
Today, the UN Security Council also extended the sanctions measures in South Sudan and the mandate of the associated expert panel. Switzerland supported the extension of both mandates in the Security Council.
30.05.2023 – Video: Protecting civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The civilian population pays high a price in armed conflicts. Switzerland's long-standing humanitarian tradition and commitment to international humanitarian law are recognised worldwide. Protecting civilians and persons no longer taking part in hostilities is at the heart of numerous conflicts worldwide on the agenda of the Security Council. In the video, Laura Reymond-Joubin, Human Security Advisor, explains what she is doing to protect civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
25.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Amherd chairs Council meeting on sustainable funding for African Union peace support missions
Federal Councillor Viola Amherd chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council on 25 May to mark Africa Day and the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping. In 1948, the UN Security Council mandated the first peacekeeping mission, UNTSO, to monitor the ceasefire in the Middle East. In addition to UN peacekeeping missions, the Security Council also authorises operations by regional organisations. Today's meeting focused on predictable, sustainable and flexible funding for African Union (AU) peace support missions.
Numerous conflicts are being fought on the African continent. The AU, as the regional organisation of the continent's states, is therefore of particular importance. It is the key organisation for peace and security issues in Africa and is thus also an important partner of the UN. "Switzerland welcomes this important contribution. We intend to use our mandate in the Council to work even more closely with Africa and the AU and to continue our long-standing support for the peace and security architecture on this continent," said Federal Councillor Viola Amherd in the Security Council.
Switzerland supports the initiative of the African members in the UN Security Council for a new Council decision aiming at predictable, sustainable and flexible funding for AU missions. This would be a decisive step for the future of peace operations. Switzerland will make a constructive contribution to this in the Security Council.
23.05.2023 – Open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts led by the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset
On Tuesday, 23 May, as part of Switzerland’s presidency of the UN Security Council, President Alain Berset chaired an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. “We have the legal, political and operational instruments to protect civilians from armed conflict”, said President Berset, referring to the unanimously adopted resolutions of 2018 and 2021 on food security and the protection of civilian infrastructure. Such instruments would have to be better applied by the Security Council and all UN member states in future. Speaking on Switzerland’s behalf, Mr Berset suggested five ways in which this could be achieved, while stressing that political will was crucial.
The five points include, firstly, ending attacks on supplies of essential goods. Second, assuring full, rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need. Third, parties to the conflict that use the starvation of civilians as an instrument of war must be held accountable. Fourth, Switzerland calls for the full inclusion of women in all processes to protect the civilian population. And fifth, the civilian population must remain well protected when UN peace missions withdraw.
More lives are lost in armed conflicts as a result of shortages of essential goods and services such as water, food and access to healthcare than through the direct effects of hostilities. Those taking part in the open debate included members of the UN Security Council and representatives of other states, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, and a civil society representative from West Africa. The debate highlighted the importance of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts, an issue that Switzerland, as depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and host state of the ICRC, has long been strongly committed to.
18.05.2023 – Iraq: Addressing the consequences of climate change to promote security
At the end of May, the UN Security Council will vote on extending the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). After decades of insecurity, slow reconstruction after the Gulf War and the presence of the Islamic State, which was pushed back in 2017, positive developments have been seen in Iraq in recent years. As of 2018, reconstruction was underway. The number of internally displaced people has dropped from 5 million to 1.2 million. Nevertheless, Iraq remains politically and confessionally divided. UNAMI is doing important work to secure Iraq's future as a stable state in which all of society - especially women and girls - participate equally without discrimination.
Switzerland welcomes the Iraqi government's efforts and reforms to fight corruption, protect human rights and mitigate the effects of climate change. "Indeed, climate change is a destabilizing factor in Iraq. It is contributing to droughts and water scarcity, with serious consequences for agriculture and livelihoods, which increase the threat of social unrest and internal displacement. Every measure aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change also serves the purpose of prevention," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the UN Security Council on 18 May. Switzerland is committed to maintaining or strengthening the climate change aspects of UNAMI's mandate. In addition, Switzerland stressed that the protection of minorities and those in need of protection is central to social cohesion and national reconciliation among different ethnic groups.
UNAMI is a civilian assistance mission that was created in 2003 at the request of Iraq by a decision of the UN Security Council. In 2007, the mission's role was strengthened. It advises and supports the Iraqi government and people in promoting inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation at the national and local levels, on the electoral process, on dialogue with its neighbours, and on the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reforms.
17.05.2023 – Video: Addressing climate security in the Horn of Africa
This week, we are focusing on the priority of "addressing climate security" for Switzerland's membership in the UN Security Council. Climate change also threatens peace and international security. Rising temperatures or droughts can, for example, cause food price fluctuations and fiercer competition for natural resources, make livelihoods more insecure and displace people. Climate change is a risk multiplier with the potential to exacerbate existing political, social, economic and ecological stress factors. The most vulnerable population groups are usually the most exposed to climate risks. Switzerland also has the expertise and know-how necessary to mitigate climate-related risks in this area.
The Horn of Africa is one of the most fragile regions in the world. Armed conflicts, but also the consequences of climate change, have far-reaching consequences for the civilian population. These include food security and access to basic services such as health care. Find out what Switzerland is doing on site in the video.
11.05.2023 – 129 states set an example for responsible action in the case of war crimes
During Switzerland's presidency of the UN Security Council, the ACT Group, which advocates for an effective UN, celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Within the group, Switzerland has promoted a code of conduct by which states voluntarily commit themselves not to vote against resolutions in the UN Security Council aimed at preventing or ending war crimes and crimes against humanity. 129 UN members or observers have signed it to date. This is a strong signal to the Council and should strengthen its effectiveness – a priority for Switzerland for its Council membership.
10.05.2023 – Promoting unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina is central to sustainable peace and security
In a debate on 10 May 2023, the UN Security Council addressed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland has been involved on the ground for over 30 years. More than 60,000 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina live in Switzerland today. "Our countries are closely linked. We contribute to lasting peace, security, prosperity and good governance in the country," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in the Security Council. She also recalled the important work of the peacekeeping mission EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which contributes significantly to securing peace in a region where tensions are once again on the rise.
Almost 30 years after the war, the broader society in Bosnia and Herzegovina still faces challenges that are deeply rooted and require lasting solutions. Despite certain positive developments in the field of human rights, hate speech and the reinterpretation of historical events persist. "We urge to refrain from any rhetoric of discord," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. To overcome these challenges, the promotion of the countries’ unity through fostering respect for the diversity and fundamental freedoms of the people is key. To this end, all political actors must work hand in hand to serve the interest of the entire population. In this context, the participation of women and youth in political decision-making processes is central as it benefits the reconciliation process and society in general. In addition, the rights of minorities must be protected and the freedom of the media and assembly guaranteed and strengthened.
The Balkan state has officially been a candidate for EU membership since December 2022. "Switzerland will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path. We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its peaceful and multi-ethnic future," said Pascale Baeriswyl in the Council.
04.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Cassis chairs briefing on UN-OSCE cooperation
On 4 May 2023, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired the annual UN Security Council briefing on cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). At this meeting, the current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Bujar Osmani, Foreign Minister of Northern Macedonia, briefed the Council on the OSCE’s priorities and activities. The UN Charter recognises the importance of cooperation between the UN and the various regional organisations, including the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union. In May, the UN and the OSCE celebrate the 30th anniversary of their cooperation, which was sealed with the signing of an agreement in 1993. Russia's military aggression against Ukraine represents the greatest challenge in the history of the OSCE. Against this backdrop, the leitmotif chosen by the current OSCE Chairmanship, "It’s About People", is more relevant than ever. "Our primary responsibility is to protect the civilian population. This responsibility is the essence of the link between the OSCE and the United Nations," Federal Councillor Cassis underlined in the Security Council.
The OSCE is the largest regional security organisation in the world. Its presence in 13 countries has a stabilising effect in regions such as the Western Balkans, the Caucasus or Central Asia. The OSCE has mechanisms to document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. It also does important work to counter the negative effects of climate change in the region, for example in the sustainable management of water resources. "We must not allow the future of Europe to be decided by the law of force. Switzerland is committed to holding the force of law against this. It is up to all of us to preserve the OSCE's capacity for action," Federal Councillor Cassis highlighted in New York. For the OSCE should remain central to the promotion of dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Europe.
03.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Cassis calls for mutual trust for peace and security
On 3 May, as President of the UN Security Council, Switzerland organised an open debate in which it highlighted its priority of "promoting sustainable peace". Mutual trust and strong focused multilateralism are central to finding solutions to global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, world economic crises and last but not least peace and security. "The multilateral system is under strain, but it has not failed. The time has come to optimise our instruments to restore trust and secure lasting peace," said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, who chaired the Council debate.
The head of the FDFA highlighted the ways in which multilateralism can offer added value. First, a normative framework respected by all strengthens predictability, which, in contrast to arbitrariness, fosters mutual trust. Second, peacebuilding should take an inclusive approach. Third, trust must be underpinned by scientifically sound facts. "Science and new technologies offer us the opportunity to better anticipate and understand the risks of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. We must respond to the challenges of the 21st century with 21st century answers," said Ignazio Cassis in New York. It is also important to use this knowledge to prevent conflicts and secure peace. "Today's debate is an opportunity to gather ideas from UN member states and to use the synergies that unite us. Trust is won through deeds, not intentions," Federal Councillor Cassis underlined during the debate.
01.05.2023 – Sustainable peace based on trust
On 3 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will preside over the first flagship event organised by Switzerland at the UN Security Council. The Security Council's debate will be held under the banner 'Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace' to advance one of the Swiss priorities in the Council, 'building sustainable peace'.
The aim of the debate is to review and strengthen the Security Council's confidence-building approaches and instruments in order to build sustainable peace in the face of current and future challenges.
27.04.2023 – UN Security Council condemns ban on women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan
Today, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Taliban's decision to ban Afghan women from working for the UN in Afghanistan. These decisions have a devastating impact on a large part of the population and constitute a serious obstacle to a united, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Afghanistan. This new work ban affects the ability of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to fulfil its mandate, which was extended by the Security Council for 12 months on 16 March 2023.
Switzerland voted in favour of the resolution in the Security Council. The resolution is a clear signal from the Security Council in this alarming situation and calls on the Taliban to lift their decrees. The ban is a violation of the UN Charter and women's rights, hinders humanitarian aid and the social and economic development of the country.
The entire Afghan society, especially women and girls as well as ethnic minorities, must be able to participate in public life without fear of reprisals. This is indispensable for the urgently needed development as well as for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
27.04.2023 – The future of Kosovo is close to Switzerland's heart
Today, for the first time since joining the Security Council, Switzerland pronounced itself on the report of the UN mission UNMIK and the situation in Kosovo. The people who came to Switzerland from the Western Balkans over 20 years ago are now an important part of Swiss society. "The future of Kosovo, its people as well as a lasting peace in the Western Balkans are close to our hearts," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council in New York.
Switzerland is committed to peaceful and multi-ethnic societies in Kosovo and throughout the Western Balkans that respect human rights and the rule of law. "Peaceful coexistence can only be achieved through honest, constructive, and inclusive dialogue," Baeriswyl emphasised. This also includes the equal and effective participation of women. Cooperation between Kosovo and international actors on the ground has borne fruit. Kosovo has been able to achieve success in the fight against corruption and organised crime, for example.
The agreement on the path towards normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is a welcome achievement. Now it's time to build on this positive momentum and fully implement the commitments made. The security situation, especially in northern Kosovo, remains tense. Switzerland deplores actions and statements that lead to further tensions and calls on the parties to strive for reconciliation and lasting peace. It condemns inter-ethnic incidents in Kosovo, which are an obstacle to building trust. In this context, the Kosovo Force (KFOR), to which Switzerland also contributes a military contingent, continues to play an important role as guarantor of a stable and secure environment in Kosovo.
24.04.2024 – Open debate on multilateralism day
During an open debate on 24 April, the UN Security Council discussed the effectiveness of multilateralism. Especially in a time of multiple crises, multilateralism needs to be strengthened and focused. The international community should ensure, that its efforts are concentrated on the major issues that cannot be solved in isolation, such as climate change, pandemics or extreme poverty; the world economic crises or the threat of war.
The UN Charter, adopted shortly after the end of the Second World War in June 1945, is the basis of the multilateral system. Territorial expansion by force – formerly a privilege of the great military powers and a legitimate means of foreign policy – was prohibited by the Charter. "Switzerland is convinced that effective multilateralism remains the only way to achieve the vision of a peaceful and just world. A world where the rule of law prevails and not the law of the strongest and where human dignity is always respected. A world in which, finally, the entire population benefits from social and economic progress", said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.
However, the impact of the UN Charter is only as great as the will of the international community to implement it. All too often, this will is lacking. The principles of the Charter are not a menu from which we can pick and choose. "We call for unconditional respect for international law by all actors in all circumstances. And we call for the courage to finally and seriously engage in reforms of the multilateral system, including this Council, in order to restore confidence in and within that system", Baeriswyl underlined at the Security Council.
18.04.2023 – Outlook for Switzerland's Presidency of the UN Security Council
In May 2023, Switzerland will hold the presidency of the UN Security Council. This role is bound by rules. Its primary purpose is to ensure that Security Council business runs smoothly so that the council can take decisions. The members of the Security Council assume the presidency in turn, in the English alphabetical order of the names of the member states.
In this capacity, the country holding the presidency of the Security Council chairs meetings and, if necessary, represents the council externally and before other UN bodies such as the General Assembly. Switzerland's one-month presidency will allow it to focus on its thematic priorities for its 2023–24 membership and to give impetus to the Security Council's work.
30.03.2023 – "Silencing the Guns in Africa" initiative: fewer weapons, strong institutions, dialogue and inclusion of the consequences of climate change
In an open debate on 30 March, the UN Security Council discussed the "Silencing the Guns in Africa" initiative of the African Union (AU) – an association of African states. The initiative aims to end war, conflicts and gender-based violence on the African continent.
Switzerland supports efforts to achieve sustainable peace in Africa. The initiative is ambitious and faces numerous challenges. "Unfortunately, as in other parts of the world, weapons are still not silent in Africa. The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition continues to spur violence, threaten peace, tear apart the social fabric and hinder development," said Swiss Deputy UN Ambassador, Adrian Hauri, at the UN Security Council.
Against this background, Switzerland underlined four areas in the Council that can contribute to the success of "Silencing the Guns". First, the supply of and demand for weapons must be reduced. The consideration of political, economic and social factors, as well as respect for international law, are central to the prevention of violence and conflict. Second, local institutions must be strengthened so that they can provide sustainable public services, which strengthens the population's trust in state structures. Third, the link between climate change and conflict should be considered in all humanitarian and peace policy activities as well as in development cooperation. There is an urgent need for affected states to reduce their vulnerability to climate shocks in order to contribute to peace and security. Fourth, dialogue between conflict parties is central to defusing tensions before violence erupts and resolving existing conflicts. Such dialogue should systematically involve women and youth. In line with its tradition of engaging in mediation and good offices, Switzerland remains committed to providing platforms for dialogue.
"The weapons will not be silent as long as they are easier to obtain than a job or an apprenticeship. Our peace efforts must go hand in hand with confidence-building measures, the strengthening of institutions and the rule of law, the promotion of social cohesion, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and the creation of economic prospects, especially for young people," Hauri stressed in New York.
27.03.2023 – Nord Stream Investigations
On 26 September 2022, the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were damaged by several explosive devices. The motive and authorship of the acts of sabotage remain unknown. On 27 March 2023, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution tabled by Russia calling for a UN investigation into the authorship of the acts of sabotage.
In principle, UN investigations can add value, for example in the absence of credible national investigations by competent authorities. In this specific case, investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden are already under way. Switzerland considers it more appropriate to await the results of these investigations, while at the same time calling for a rapid clarification of the acts of sabotage. Switzerland has therefore abstained from voting.
22.03.2023 – Access to water must be guaranteed at all times, even in times of war
At the initiative of Switzerland and Mozambique – both elected members of the Council – the UN Security Council held an informal meeting on 22 March on the occasion of the World Water Day to discuss the protection of access to water and sanitation infrastructure in armed conflicts. This protection is a central pillar for the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.
"Water is essential to all life on earth and access to water is a fundamental right. It must be guaranteed at all times, including in times of war", stressed Christian Frutiger, Deputy Director-General and Head of the SDC's Thematic Cooperation Division, representing Federal Councillor Cassis, at the Security Council. Despite existing obligations under international humanitarian law, which is also reflected in several Security Council resolutions, water facilities continue to be destroyed or damaged in armed conflicts.
Today, some two billion people are at risk of water scarcity as a result of conflict. This not only results in a lack of water for people and agriculture, but also the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera due to poor hygiene. This is why Switzerland emphasised in the Council, that international humanitarian law must be respected and enforced everywhere and without fail. International humanitarian law fundamentally protects water infrastructure as a civilian object. It also prohibits attacking, destroying and rendering useless goods that are essential for the survival of the civilian population, such as drinking water supply facilities, water supplies and irrigation systems.
A functioning water infrastructure is also central to the consolidation of sustainable peace after hostilities. The absence of such structures prevents the resumption of economic and social activities in areas already severely affected by the war. This can result in a perpetuation of instability and a heightened risk that old tensions will flare up again. The meeting also highlighted the negative impact of climate change as an factor that further compounds the protection of water services and infrastructure in armed conflicts. This is why Switzerland also focused on the importance of prevention, reconstruction and the support of the international community for conflict-affected states and regions in its statement to the Security Council.
"The current challenges in terms of access, management and governance of water are manyfold and require multilateral solutions", Frutiger emphasised in New York. This is why Switzerland is committed to the permanent inclusion of this topic in the priorities of the UN.
16.03.2023 – UN Security Council extends UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
On 16 March, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for 12 months. As an elected member of the Council, Switzerland voted in favour of this resolution. UNAMA provides humanitarian assistance and good offices in Afghanistan, promotes and protects human rights, supports gender equality, and protects children affected by armed conflict. The mission is also mandated to promote development and governance in Afghanistan, including the rule of law. These are all issues that lie at the centre of Swiss foreign policy. On the ground, Switzerland is working with partner organisations such as the UN, the ICRC and NGOs to reduce human suffering.
The Security Council also unanimously adopted a resolution mandating an independent assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to ensure a coherent approach by political, humanitarian and development actors. A common political strategy is particularly important given the gravity of the situation. Switzerland expects the voices of women and civil society to be taken into account during this assessment.
Afghanistan is confronted with numerous, mutually reinforcing crises that have plunged the country into deep insecurity. The fall of the government in summer 2021 has led to the further deterioration of the situation – especially for women and girls. The list of incidents of violence against women and girls is long. It includes murder, honour killings and forced marriages, among others. Their access to education and work is virtually non-existent, especially since the decrees imposed by the Taliban at the end of 2022, which further restrict the rights of women and girls. Switzerland is calling on the Taliban to reverse these decrees.
Switzerland welcomes the renewal of UNAMA's mandate, as its activities are vital for the Afghan people. Two thematic areas are central to Switzerland: On the one hand, the whole of Afghan society, especially women and girls as well as ethnic minorities, must be able to participate in public life without fear of reprisals. This is essential for economic and social development as well as for lasting peace in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the plight of the civilian population is immense. More than 28 million people in the country are dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival. What is needed are not only quick but also long-term solutions, especially for food insecurity. To ensure that these efforts are successful, the Taliban must recognise the key role of women in Afghan society, economy and politics.
15.03.2023 – Fragile peace in South Sudan: UN Security Council extends mandate of peacekeeping mission
On 15 March, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for another year by resolution. In the Security Council, Switzerland supported the renewal of the Mandate to ensure that the mission continues to be equipped for the challenges that lie ahead in the country. The mandate is in line with Switzerland’s priorities for the Council membership - namely protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and addressing climate security. After decades of conflict, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. When the new government collapsed in 2013, the young state fell into a spiral of civil war, which ended at the national level in 2018 with a peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the war and millions were displaced, over half of them women and children.
But the peace is fragile. The implementation of the peace agreement is slow. The formation of a transitional government in February 2020 only slightly accelerated this process. At the sub-national level, violence unfortunately remains a daily occurrence. "In order to reduce violence and strengthen peaceful coexistence, peace dialogues among the population are essential. In recent years, Switzerland has worked with the South Sudan Council of Churches to support such dialogue processes. UNMISS also promotes such dialogue," Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl mentioned at the UN Security Council. Next year, elections and the end of the transition period are coming up, which will bring further challenges.
Driven by conflict and severe food insecurity, the country is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. "This crisis is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which further compounds the effects of the conflict. We encourage the South Sudanese government to address these challenges with the support of UNMISS," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. This is why, during the negotiations on the mandate, Switzerland also advocated for the UN Secretary-General to include a reference to the risks associated with the effects of climate change in his report on UNMISS to the Security Council. The mandate also now mentions the UNs goal of increasing the use of renewable energies in peace missions in order to ensure the responsible use of natural resources. As co-chair of the Council's informal expert group on climate and security, Switzerland also advocates for this issue at a broader level.
The tasks of UNMISS include the protection of civilians, logistical support for humanitarian aid, support for the implementation of the peace agreement, the promotion of international humanitarian law and the strengthening of human rights. 2023 will be an important year to prepare for the end of the transition phase.
07.03.2023 – Women play a key role in achieving sustainable peace
President Alain Berset also addressed the UN Security Council for the first time on 7 March as part of his participation in the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The topic of "Women, Peace and Security" was at the centre of the open debate of the Council. The President of the Confederation underlined the importance of women's participation in political decision-making and peace processes. In reference to his recent trip to Mozambique in February 2023, he said: "Women are committed to peace, both in their communities and at the national level. They contribute to building a just and equal political and economic future for their country."
The agenda "Women, Peace and Security" was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2000: Resolution 1325 and its follow-up resolutions recognise the role of women in all efforts to achieve lasting peace and call for the protection of women's rights. Nevertheless, women often continue to be the first targets of violence, hate speech, threats, retaliation and sexual assault in conflict situations - such incidents are also increasingly taking place in the virtual space.
The implementation of the agenda still needs to be strengthened across the globe. Berset called on the Council to take concrete action to address these challenges: "Words must now be matched with concrete actions in terms of budget, personnel and policy. This is a prerequisite for women to be able to speak out and contribute to sustainable peace - safely, freely and without fear of reprisals."
24.02.2023 – UN Security Council: Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of Geneva Conventions and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, took part in a high-level UN Security Council debate in New York on 24 February 2023. Mr Cassis called for the withdrawal of Russia's armed forces present on Ukraine's sovereign territory for a year and for respect of the Geneva Conventions. He also underscored Switzerland's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
"After a year of war, we must combine our strengths, ideas and resources to restore a sense of security in Europe and ensure a return to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," said Mr Cassis before the Security Council.
As a permanently neutral country, Switzerland fully respects its obligations under the law of neutrality. It does not favour any of the belligerents militarily. Still, as Mr Cassis recalled, "neutrality does not mean indifference to violations of international law". He stressed that "Switzerland stands ready to bring all parties to the table in order to bolster respect for international humanitarian law and ultimately achieve peace."
23.02.2023 – UN General Assembly: Ignazio Cassis condemns Russian aggression and calls for path to lasting peace in Ukraine
Mr Cassis is at the United Nations headquarters in New York this weekend, one year after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. He is taking part in an emergency special session of the General Assembly, as well as in a Security Council debate. This serves as an occasion for him to reiterate Switzerland's strong condemnation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, still under way, and to call for an immediate end to the conflict and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's sovereign territory.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by a large majority (141 votes), with Mr Cassis in attendance. The resolution calls on states and international organisations to strengthen their support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in keeping with the UN Charter, and on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
"With today's resolution, we are sending out a strong message of peace and respect for the principles that unite us," said Mr Cassis before the General Assembly. The new text calls on UN member states and international organisations to strengthen their support for peace. For Mr Cassis, who stressed his appeal to the entire international community "to work hand in hand towards a peaceful settlement of this conflict," it is a clear signal from the international community to Russia.
14.02.2023 – Rising sea levels threaten world peace and security
"The facts are clear: our planet is getting warmer, causing water levels to rise and glaciers to melt. Switzerland is at the forefront of the latter phenomenon" said Thomas Gürber, FDFA deputy state secretary and head of the UN division at a meeting at the UN Security Council. Malta, which chairs the Security Council in February 2023, organised the debate.
Rising water levels and more frequent flooding due to climate change threaten infrastructure in coastal areas. In addition, agricultural production, food security and habitat are threatened by soil erosion and salinisation. As a result, some regions become uninhabitable, forcing millions of people to leave their region or country. This issue challenges the entire UN system and thus also the Security Council. "The Security Council has a key role to play. It must face one of the greatest contemporary risks for humanity," Thomas Gürber underlined.
Displacements caused by rising sea levels have the potential to exacerbate conflicts between communities. Switzerland is working within the UN Security Council to counteract the negative effects of climate change on global peace and security. The deputy state secretary called on the Council increase the integration of the effects of climate change into its activities and into the mandates of peacekeeping missions.
"The impacts of climate change and sea level rise are already being felt today, in a differentiated fashion depending on the contexts," Gürber stressed in New York. Through its foreign policy , Switzerland has been active in this area for years. For example, it launched the Nansen Initiative together with Norway in 2012 and the Geneva-based "Platform on Displacement in the Context of Natural Disasters" in 2015. The aim of the latter is to improve protection for people who have to flee their country because of natural disasters and negative consequences of climate change.
13.02.2023 – Switzerland calls in the UN Security Council for rapid humanitarian access to the civilian population in Syria after the earthquake
In its role as co-penholder in the UN Security Council for the humanitarian dossier on Syria, Switzerland, together with Brazil, has requested a meeting of the council in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey. This event also affected northern Syria, where the humanitarian situation was already extremely worrying prior to the earthquake. At the meeting, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council on the situation in the earthquake zone and the humanitarian needs on the ground.
Following the meeting, during a press stakeout, Switzerland and Brazil jointly called on all stakeholders to provide rapid, unhindered and sustainable humanitarian access to the affected civilian population in Syria. To date, the UN - based on a UN Security Council resolution - has been able to provide cross-border aid to Syria only through the "Bab el Hawa" crossing. Switzerland and Brazil were encouraged by Syria's decision to open two more border crossings, as announced yesterday. They also took the opportunity to underline that should it be necessary, they remain ready to facilitate any decision in the Security Council.
Switzerland is in close contact with humanitarian actors on the ground as well as with the coordinating UN agency OCHA and other UN agencies. In its approach as co-penholder, it is guided by the assessments of these humanitarian actors. The focus is placed on the humanitarian needs of the affected civilian population.
13.02.2023 – Protection, reintegration and education for children in armed conflicts
The UN Security Council addressed the situation of children in armed conflict on 13 February 2023. Violent conflicts have a catastrophic impact on children and young people across the globe. Millions of children and young people are affected and deprived of their future prospects.
The issue of children in armed conflicts is closely linked to two of the Swiss Security Council priorities including "protecting civilians" and "promoting sustainable peace". In the Council and through its foreign policy, Switzerland pursues three dimensions of action to mitigate the consequences of conflicts on children. "This Council has developed numerous tools to prevent grave violations. For these tools to maintain their deterrent effect, their independence, impartiality, and credibility must be preserved", said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council in New York.
First: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children are better protected in conflicts. One way it does this is by supporting a United Nations system that documents serious violations in armed conflicts. The UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict reviews these and makes recommendations for possible measures to better protect children. Secondly, for sustainable peace to have a chance, children must be reintegrated into society after their involvement in an armed conflict. Switzerland promotes the transition to civilian life. In addition to having a safe place to live, psychosocial support as well as educational and professional opportunities are key for concerned children. Thirdly: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children and young people have access to education despite conflicts. Through education, children can realise their full potential, develop their skills and restore a sense of normality and security.
"By seeking to ensure that children have access to education and are reintegrated into society after a conflict, we are making an important contribution to lasting peace and prosperity," says Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, Head of the Peace and Human Rights Division at the FDFA
09.02.2023 – Combating terrorism needs a holistic approach
On 9 February, the UN Security Council addressed the impact of terrorism on international peace and security. In the Council, Switzerland strongly condemned all forms of terrorist activity. This is because terrorism – particularly the Islamic State and sympathising groups in Africa and Central Asia – poses a threat both to individuals and to international stability, peace and prosperity. Terrorism knows no borders or nationalities and is a challenge that the international community must address together. However, this fight against terrorism must be conducted with the rule of law and human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected.
Switzerland, too, has not been spared acts of terrorism. This shows that the terrorist threat has become more diffuse in recent decades, especially in Europe. It now usually emanates from individual radicalised persons.
Every terrorist threat has its own root causes and its own dynamics of radicalisation and violence. To address this threat at its core and to be preventive, solutions need to be adapted to the specific context in the state concerned, taking into account the different needs of society to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism that can lead to terrorism. Women and youth can play an important role in this. "The fight against terrorism can only be successful if we look at the situation as a whole, taking into account all the factors that lead to radicalisation and violence. Thus, we can only succeed if we abide by the rule of law", underlined Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York, at the Security Council.
01.02.2023 – Peace and security for millions of people in West Africa and the Sahel
The mandate of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) conferred by the UN Security Council was extended for a further three years. It covers 16 countries in the region, where millions of people face multiple, complex challenges that pose a threat to regional security. The commitment of UNOWAS is therefore crucial.
As the lead country for this dossier together with Ghana ('co-penholders'), Switzerland is contributing its expertise to the debates in the Security Council. It has long worked for peace and development in the Sahel, pursuing the same goals as UNOWAS, including protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on security in the region.
A holistic approach is required for conflict prevention and promoting stability in the affected countries. Switzerland also represents this position in the Security Council as an actor on the ground. Central pillars of its work include climate security and the prevention of violent extremism.
Droughts or floods exacerbated by climate change threaten the livelihoods of many people and can forcibly displace them from their homes. This can further increase the potential for conflict. Switzerland also advocates in the Security Council that addressing these impacts be integrated into the solutions-based approach in the region. On the ground, Switzerland strengthens the resilience of the local population and works to preserve their natural resources. Switzerland is also committed to increasing the participation of women in political decision-making processes in the region.
The prevention of violent extremism is important for the sustainable security of the population in West Africa and the Sahel. In 2016, Switzerland, together with regional partners and UNOWAS, launched an initiative for regional talks on the prevention of violent extremism in Africa. Over 1,000 people regularly take part in this exchange. The focus is on approaches to prevention, networking of regional actors and positive alternatives to violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel. The next round of talks will take place in Dakar at the end of February 2023. Carol Mottet from the FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division talks about the context in the following interview.
30.01.2023 – Switzerland advocates a just solution to the Cyprus issue in the UN Security Council
Today, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus became independent. Following the outbreak of violence between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on the island, the UN Security Council dispatched UNFICYP in 1964. UNFICYP has thus been contributing to stabilisation on the ground for decades. A setback followed in 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island and began occupying it. Although a ceasefire was concluded, the country remains divided to this day, without a formal agreement. UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution. The UN has also maintained political dialogue – for example on the Bürgenstock (2004), on Mont Pèlerin (2016) and in Crans-Montana (2017). Despite these efforts, a decisive breakthrough has so far failed to materialise.
As a host for negotiations, Switzerland has thus been closely following the conflict in Cyprus for some time. It also provides financial support to institutions on the ground, such as the Committee for Missing Persons. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland has now participated in the negotiations to extend the UNFICYP mandate. In the UN Security Council, Switzerland advocates a lasting, comprehensive solution that is fair to both sides. According to UN Security Council resolutions, this solution should be founded on the principle of a federation consisting of two community-based zones. In particular, Switzerland supports the appointment of a UN envoy to closely accompany the process towards a just and lasting solution to the conflict. In addition, Switzerland continues to offer to host reunification talks.
25.01.2023 – International Criminal Court gives voice to victims and survivors in Sudan
At its meeting on 25 January 2023, the UN Security Council addressed the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, which remains unresolved to this day. In 2003, various ethnic groups in western Sudan had rebelled against the government of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown in 2019. In an attempt to quell these protests, some 300,000 civilians were killed and 2.5 million people displaced, according to UN figures. Shortly afterwards, the UN Security Council assessed the situation in Sudan as a threat to international peace and security. Conflict continues in the region to this day.
In 2005, the Security Council mandated the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur in order to bring those responsible – including al-Bashir – to justice. "This trial gives a voice to the victims and survivors. It underlines once again the preventive and reconciliatory role of the ICC: the Court is a vector for peace and security and thus shares the core of the mandate of this Council," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council.
Switzerland, together with Japan, is the focal point for issues concerning the ICC at the Security Council. The ICC is a central institution for dealing with violent conflict in order to promote the foundations for reconciliation and thus sustainable peace. This is why Switzerland was also instrumental in the creation of the ICC in 2001. "For the ICC to be able to exercise its mandate effectively, independently and impartially, it relies on the support of all of us. In this sense, we call on all member states of the United Nations to fulfil their cooperation obligations," Baeriswyl underlined. Switzerland is committed to an efficient interaction between the ICC and UN organs such as the Security Council, to bring justice to the victims of violent acts in conflict through criminal justice and to fight the impunity of perpetrators.
13.01.2023 – Civilians in Ukraine pay a price that is far too high
The UN Security Council addressed the situation in Ukraine on 13 January. Switzerland marked its first Ukraine meeting as a Council member to once again strongly condemn Russia's military aggression against the Ukraine. It called on Russia to cease all hostilities and to immediately withdraw its troops.
Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl underlined the far-reaching consequences of repeated Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, including the disruption of vital facilities such as hospitals and water supply systems. The protection of civilians is one of Switzerland's priorities in the UN Security Council. " I reiterate today Switzerland's call for a halt to all attacks on civilians and persons hors de combat, on civilian property and on essential infrastructure", Baeriswyl stressed.
Efforts are needed to find peaceful, just and lasting solutions. In addition to its engagement at the diplomatic and multilateral levels, Switzerland is also working bilaterally to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. Switzerland stated in the Council it will continue its engagement directly in Ukraine. The engagement takes the form of contributions to partner organisations, the delivery of humanitarian goods such as mobile generators or heating equipment and through supporting the reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, which were launched in Lugano in the summer of 2022.
"As members of this Council, it is our responsibility to do our utmost to ensure that this year is a year of just peace, in accordance with international law, in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world", Baeriswyl underlined in her vote.
12.01.2023 – Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of the UN Charter in the Security Council
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a UN Security Council ministerial debate on the rule of law in New York on 12 January.
In his address, the Mr Cassis called on UN member states to respect international law and adhere to the principles of the UN Charter. The Charter prohibits the threat or use of force targeted at the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. "The principles of the Charter are being put to the test today. They have been flagrantly violated in the case of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine," Mr Cassis stressed at the Council.
He continued: "The work of international bodies such as the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court and the various UN investigation and fact-finding mechanisms is of great importance. It is crucial that all states, as well as the Security Council, cooperate fully with these bodies." Switzerland will work towards further strengthening rule of law during its tenure in the Security Council.
Mr Cassis took part in the debate on the rule of law at the invitation of Japan. Like Switzerland, Japan is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning of the year. It holds the presidency of the Council in January.
09.01.2023 – UN Security Council renews cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria
On 9 January 2023, the United Nations Security Council extended unanimously the mandate for cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria until 10 July. Together with Brazil, Switzerland introduced the respective resolution in the Security Council as co-penholder of the Syria humanitarian file.
The cross-border resolution allows UN agencies to provide humanitarian aid in north-western Syria, where more than 4 million people depend on it. Most live in camps or temporary shelters. Each month, around 800 lorries cross the Bab-al Hawa border from Turkey into Syria to deliver humanitarian goods. The cross-border humanitarian aid encompasses food, assistance regarding emergency shelters, education, the protection of the civilian population, and health, as well as equipment required to provide water and sanitation.
With the Syria file, Switzerland has taken on a crucial Security Council dossier. Council members have long held divergent views on the issue of humanitarian aid on the ground. After the last attempt to extend the mandate in July 2022 failed due to a veto, a compromise was reached to extend the mechanism by six-months. The council once again extended unanimously the mandate for a six months period. The Council's cross-border resolution has enabled the delivery of humanitarian aid across the border into Syria since 2014. The Council has renewed it since it was first adopted.
03.01.2023 – Switzerland takes its seat on the UN Security Council
Today, Switzerland took up its work in the UN Security Council. Activities are already in full swing in Bern and at the mission in New York. Currently, the focus of the staff is on preparations for the upcoming Security Council meetings on the situation in Syria and West Africa, as well as reporting to the Federal Council and Parliament.
Especially in the current global context with its various crises, membership of the Security Council is an important opportunity. The UN Security Council has a significant role to play for peace in the world. In addition to the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the USA and the United Kingdom), the following ten states are non-permanent members in 2023: Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta and Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.