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Swiss demand more transparency at UN

Peter Maurer, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York

(Keystone)

Switzerland has demanded that the United Nations Security Council become more transparent and pay greater attention to non-member states.

But the United States and Russia – both on the Security Council – dismissed the Swiss draft resolution, fearing a weakening of their influence.

Peter Maurer, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York - together with colleagues from Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Singapore - handed the proposal to all UN member states on Friday.

The 18 points of the bill seek to improve transparency and efficiency for the council without having to alter the UN Charter.

Since an expansion of the Security Council appears blocked after three failed motions, Switzerland is hoping for broad support for the bill from the UN plenary assembly.

The Security Council has five permanent members. Of those, Maurer said France and Britain responded positively to the draft and China to a lesser extent. The US and Russia, on the other hand, were dismissive.

The two superpowers are against any weakening of their privileges, maintaining that the Security Council should regulate and organise itself and not be dictated to by the General Assembly.

Political reality

In an accompanying letter Maurer and his four colleagues quoted from the UN summit document published after the three-day world summit held in New York in September.

That document said reforming the council would reflect political reality more accurately and would enable non-members to get involved in negotiations more regularly.

It maintained that non-member states had a right to be well informed and to share in the decisions taken by the Security Council.

The proposal will now be studied before being put to a vote at the plenary assembly. Maurer said Switzerland was open to amendments and additions.

The drafters of the bill hope to attract the interest of the vast majority of member states in order to send a clear signal to the Security Council.

But Maurer admits they are walking a tightrope: they don't want to tell the council what to do, but they do want to highlight the wishes of the majority of states for improved working methods on the council.

The plenary assembly is expected to vote on the proposal at the beginning of 2006. If the motion is passed, the text says the Security Council will have until September 2006 to decide which suggestions to implement.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The United Nations Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and security between nations.
The Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the UN Charter.
The Council has five permanent members: China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States.
Switzerland joined the UN in September 2002. It does not have a seat on the Security Council.

end of infobox

In brief

Switzerland has put forward a draft resolution demanding that the United Nations Security Council become more transparent and pay greater attention to non-member states.

The plenary assembly is expected to vote on the proposal at the beginning of 2006.

If the motion is passed, the Security Council will have until September 2006 to decide which suggestions to implement.

end of infobox


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