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International obligations

Swiss put UNESCO committee bid on ice

Switzerland has withdrawn from a campaign to join the executive committee of UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. 

A Paris reception to support its candidacy was cancelled at the last minute after the government decided it should shift its international priorities elsewhere.

The Swiss candidacy was launched in 2014 and is not expected to be made again until 2019.

The foreign ministry confirmed a report in Le Matin Dimanche that Switzerland wants to “plan and stagger its [UN] commitments and appeals in the most optimal way”.

One of the current priorities is the renovation of the Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva and the financial issues surrounding the much-needed work. Switzerland is also hoping to be elected to the UN Council of Human Rights on Wednesday, according to the spokeswoman, Sonja Isella. Switzerland will therefore concentrate on those goals and does not wish to multiply its processes for candidacies.  

According to Le Matin Dimanche, the campaign withdrawl is also tied to a United States push for a place on the UNESCO committee. With Switzerland pulling out, there is now a “clean state” situation, where the number of candidates is equal to the number of vacancies. The foreign ministry told the newspaper that the withdrawl “strengthened our relations with other members of the group” applying to be on the committee.

Switzerland last was on the committee in 2003-2007. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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