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Government seeks to make peace promotion law

The Swiss government wants the two tenets of Swiss foreign policy - peace promotion and the protection of human rights - enshrined in law.

This content was published on January 13, 2003 - 08:13

Parliament is to consider the proposal this year, along with a government request for a credit of SFr240 million ($160 million) to fund efforts abroad.

"I really hope this draft law will be accepted by parliament because it weighs on one of the central aims of the foreign ministry," said Radical Lili Nabholz, president of the House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee.

If approved, the new law would signal that Switzerland was taking seriously its commitments to promote peace and human rights, which it pledged to do when admitted to the United Nations last September.

Resolving conflict

In arguing its case, the foreign ministry has highlighted a number of occasions where Switzerland played a successful role in helping to resolve conflict - most recently, its efforts to broker a limited ceasefire between warring factions in Sudan.

Other examples are peace-building role Switzerland played in Sri Lanka and Kosovo where Swiss specialists implemented civil protection and peace promotion programmes.

Officials make the point that getting rid of mines in Mozambique, and helping to rebuild war-ravaged countries, as Switzerland did in Somalia, could also be pursued more actively if foreign policy objectives were enshrined in law.

Approved by the Cabinet last October, the draft law must now pass through both houses of parliament before it can enter into force one year from now.

swissinfo, Frédéric Burnand

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