Welcome address by the President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Ignazio Cassis - Switzerland's 20th anniversary of UN membership - check against delivery

Speaker: Cassis Ignazio; Head of Department, Ignazio Cassis

Madam Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva
Presidente del Consiglio di Stato
Madam State Secretary
Excellencies, dear Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Signor Direttore
Ladies and gentlemen

Benvenuti a Melide!

Today is a special day for us to come together. It was exactly twenty years ago today that Switzerland became a member of the United Nations!

When President Kaspar Villiger entered the UN General Assembly chamber in New York, he was met with resounding applause. Six months earlier the people of Switzerland had come out in favour of joining the organisation – the only country to do so based on a popular vote.

The balance shows that the people were absolutely right! Switzerland can look back on a number of important achievements at the UN. It played a decisive role in the creation of the Human Rights Council and in the drafting of the 2030 Agenda.

Joseph Deiss, who accompanied President Villiger to New York as foreign minister in 2002, was elected president of the General Assembly in 2010 and thus to the highest office at the UN. Today, over 1000 Swiss citizens work day in and day out on behalf of the organisation.

But the greatest task still lies ahead: taking up our  seat on the UN Security Council in 2023-24. We have opted for the slogan ‘a plus for peace’ and we will dedicate our efforts towards the UN’s raison d’être: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

The dome of the Parliament Building is emblazoned with the Swiss Confederation’s unofficial motto: ‘Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno’. This motto reflects Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition, but also the aim of the United Nations, namely to bring about effective multilateralism.

International Geneva, the seat of the UN’s European headquarters and of its many specialised agencies, plays an important role in this. Today, I am very pleased to be able to inaugurate, in the presence of Director-General Valovaya, a model of the Palace of Nations donated by Switzerland. So with this model, the ‘Spirit of Geneva’ can now also be felt on the shores of Lake Lugano, here at the Swissminiatur.

Swissminiatur has become an export product, having been reproduced in several other countries. Just like Victorinox products, which are exported all over the world. I hope that the engraved Swisscards, which will be distributed following this event, will serve as a souvenir for this special day. Additionally, you will receive a booklet about “Switzerland and the construction of multilateralism”, established by the Dodis research centre, which recounts the story of Switzerland’s efforts toward the work of the UN before it became a member.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Le Palais des Nations est à la fois un rappel douloureux et un signe d’espoir. D’une part, il symbolise l’échec de la Société des Nations suite au retour des rapports de force entre les États. Mais il incarne aussi la renaissance du multilatéralisme « moderne » sous l’égide de l’ONU, qui a survécu à plusieurs crises et qui est aujourd’hui mis à rude épreuve par de nouveaux conflits armés, même en Europe. A nous toutes et tous, en Suisse comme ailleurs, de renforcer et moderniser ce multilatéralisme.

Aussi faut-il voir dans les lourds travaux de rénovation, dont le Palais fait actuellement l’objet, un investissement de la communauté internationale dans un multilatéralisme renforcé. Et je voudrais dire ici combien la Suisse est fière en sa qualité d’État hôte et de membre de l’institution depuis vingt ans, de pouvoir apporter sa pierre au succès des Nations Unies.

Ceci reflet parfaitement le vieux principe suisse: « Tous pour un, un pour tous », ou, en latin, « omnes pro UNO » …

« everyone for the United Nations Organization! »

Je vous remercie de votre attention.

Enjoy your visit here in Melide and your stay in Ticino!

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last update 29.01.2022


FDFA Communication

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern

Phone (for journalists only):
+41 58 460 55 55

Phone (for all other requests):
+41 58 462 31 53

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