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Majority of Swiss in favour of UN membership

Swiss citizens seem more open to joining the UN than in 1986 Keystone

A majority of Swiss are in favour of joining the United Nations according to a survey carried out by French-speaking public broadcasters.

This content was published on December 20, 2001 - 22:44

Nearly three out of five Swiss would say "yes" if a vote were held today. Citizens will go to the polls in two and a half months time to decide if Switzerland formally joins the UN.

French-speakers are the most in favour of membership, with almost two-thirds of them saying yes when asked. German-speakers were less enthusiastic, with just over half of those questioned in favour of joining the UN.

Nearly 30 per cent of those polled are against membership, while one in ten still doesn't what he or she will vote. Perhaps more surprisingly, two-thirds of the people questioned didn't even know there was to be a vote.

Most of those in favour of joining the UN state Switzerland must have a voice in the international community. Nineteen per cent of them say Switzerland is the last country outside of the UN, while just about the same number wish to show solidarity with other nations.

Those against membership are most concerned about a loss of neutrality and say they are satisfied with Switzerland's current situation. Eighteen per cent of those opposed reckon the UN serves no good purpose.

Switzerland already has strong ties with the United Nations. Geneva is the organisation's European headquarters and the Swiss authorities contribute SFr470 million ($288 million) annually to the UN and its agencies.

The vote on UN membership will take place on March 3, 2002. The last time citizens voted on this issue in 1986, a three to one majority rejected membership. The measure needs a majority of cantons to pass, and its approval remains uncertain.

swissinfo with agencies

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