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Swiss UN ambassador urges unity on human rights

Switzerland's ambassador to the United Nations has warned that the organisation's human rights commission is threatened by its members' opposing views.

Jenö Staehelin told the UN General Assembly that dialogue was preferable to confrontation.

Speaking on Thursday in New York during a debate on the organisation's reform, Staehelin said the UN's reporting system on human rights must be reviewed.

"The system must be simplified and made more transparent for member states, UN commissions and the public," he told the assembly.

The Swiss government has proposed a single human rights report for each state, on the premise that it would give a truer image of the situation within each nation.

Stop "wasting time and money"

The ambassador also called for a series of reforms throughout the world body. Staehelin said the UN must "concentrate on its priorities and avoid wasting time and money".

He added that Switzerland would prefer fewer, but more useful, reports from the organisation, just as it would prefer "fewer but more productive meetings".

The Swiss representative also appealed for more funding for the UN's development and environment programmes. Staehelin added that the Security Council also needed to be reformed to reflect today's world.

Switzerland would like the Council - the UN's highest decision-making body - to have more members. At present it has five permanent members: the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

"We are in favour of a limited extension of Security Council membership," said Staehelin. "We do not want to see its capacity to take decisions reduced, though."

swissinfo with agencies


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