Switzerland has called on the United Nations to redouble its efforts in tackling conflicts, human rights abuses and inequality.
“In recent years, we have equipped ourselves with valuable tools to build a better world. Now is the time to use them,” said Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann as he addressed the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 71st session in New York on Tuesday.
“Since the beginning of the 20th century, our generation is the first that has not experienced a world war. The UN has made a crucial contribution to this achievement, even though it must be conceded that there are still too many regional conflicts, which give rise to too many casualties,” he said.
Schneider-Ammann pointed to a number of initiatives that have sprung from Geneva – the home of the UN’s European operations - in recent years, including a high profile panel on water and security. These “testify to the importance of international Geneva and Switzerland’s commitment,” said Schneider-Ammann. “Geneva is useful to the world and we will continue to develop its potential.”
Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter is also in New York, promoting projects to engage with marginalized sections of the community – and thus prevent them from falling into violence and extremism.
The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), founded in Geneva, is one such vehicle for combating the spread of terrorism by offering people an alternative. During UN sessions on this theme, Burkhalter stressed the importance of engaging with young people and women – who are also targeted by terrorist recruiters.