Privilege comes at a price

By joining the UN, Switzerland will gain a voice in the General Assembly, as well as the mighty Security Council.

This content was published on September 5, 2002 - 15:06

It will also pay for privilege - Switzerland's contribution to the UN budget will rise by around SFr50 million ($35 million) a year.

Until now, Switzerland has had only observer status in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. It also had no right to a seat in the Security Council and had only restricted rights in many commissions and institutes.

By joining the UN, Switzerland can not only participate directly in major debates on international politics but will have its position enhanced in those organisations where it is already active.

Switzerland will benefit from voting rights and eligibility in all the decision-making processes of the UN. In other words, it will be able to take its turn in occupying a seat in important organisations, such as the Economic and Social Council or on the Commission on Human Rights.

And, even if it only happens every 20 years, Switzerland will eventually take its turn in one of the six non-permanent seats of the Security Council.

In the future, Swiss citizens will be able to more easily to accept important and responsible positions in the administration of the UN.

Financial Consequences

The price tag for these rights will be an extra SFr50 million a year.

Until now, Switzerland's financial contribution to the UN as an observer is based on 30 per cent of what its share would be as a full member. This amounts to 1,2 per cent of the total UN budget - approximately $4 million per year.

In addition Switzerland will have to fork out for peacekeeping operations, bringing its total contribution to about $39 million.


Switzerland has long participated, and enjoyed decision-making rights, in many of the UN's specialised institutions, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

It is also present in the majority of the UN fund and subsidiary programs, such as those of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and other similar organisations subordinate to the central administration of the UN.

Switzerland is also a full member of Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank). It also participates with full rights in the functions of the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

swissinfo, Bernard Weissbrodt

UN facts

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