Swiss UN agenda focuses on more reforms

Peter Maurer reckons Switzerland will be heard by the new UN secretary-general (pixsil)

Switzerland will give its support to moves by the United Nations new secretary-general Ban Ki Moon to improve international security and boost development.

This content was published on January 12, 2007 - 12:07

Peter Maurer, the Swiss ambassador to the UN, said that after five years as a member of the organisation, Switzerland will now consider how best to get its ideas across.

Maurer said in New York on Thursday that Swiss objectives included improving human security, as well as promoting rule of law and sustainable development.

He added that the arrival of a new UN secretary-general was a good opportunity to consider which of the organisation's services were the most successful.

Maurer reckons that Ban, whose aims include conflict prevention and quicker reaction times to emergency situations, will listen to the Swiss. The ambassador said that the secretary-general's first speech to the Security Council was impressive, focusing on resolving crisis situations in Africa.

Maurer said there was still some uncertainty among top-level UN employees as to who Ban would keep on as part of his team. All the under-secretary-generals are supposed to hand in their resignation by the end of the month, leaving to the organisation's new head decide whether to keep them on.

Among those affected is Switzerland's Nicolas Michel, who heads up the UN's legal affairs department. Maurer believes he has done a fine job so far and the Swiss authorities are backing his reappointment.

High profile

Other Swiss will be leaving high-profile positions at the UN.

Marcel Boisard, director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research is retiring. The mandate of Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor at International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, is also at its end.

Maurer said though that Switzerland remained well represented in the upper reaches of the UN, with personalities such as Adolf Ogi, Jean Ziegler and Walter Kälin carrying out special duties for the organisation.

Switzerland wants to push for reforms at the Security Council this year. A proposal to make the council's work more transparent and improve collaboration with all UN member states has met with plenty of interest.

Permanent or temporary membership - according to Maurer – is not only way to improve collaboration. Better would be to ensure that the council's decisions a backed by a majority of the General Assembly's members.

Switzerland will also be defending human rights and the Geneva Conventions. Maurer added the new Geneva-based Human Rights Council needed to be improved.

The council, which had strong backing from Switzerland, has already come in for heavy international criticism after its first sessions.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The United Nations has 191 member countries.

Switzerland joined the UN in September 2002 following a nationwide vote. It does not have a seat on the Security Council.

The Security Council has five permanent members - China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States - which can block any proposal brought before the council by casting a negative vote (veto).

The ten other non-permanent members are elected by all member states for a two-year term.

The Security Council has the authority to send UN peacekeeping forces to conflict zones, and can decide enforcement measures, economic sanctions or collective military action.

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