The annual report on human development published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has put Switzerland in 13th place, behind other European countries such as Belgium and Finland. Top of the table are Canada and Japan.
The UNDP's Human Development Index published on Thursday compares quality of life in countries around the world in terms of education levels, life expectancy and real income.
Switzerland's 13th place ranking is one spot lower than in last year's report, even though it is fourth in the world in terms of per capita income.
Dora Rappold of the Swiss Development Agency thinks Switzerland should have done better.
"We are falling down on our education system which has an in-built bias against tertiary education and a slant towards vocational training," she said.
One of the authors of the Human Development Report 2000, Richard Jolly, presented the findings at a news conference in Berne ahead of their release today. He described the report as the most important to be published by the New York-based UNDP for a decade.
"The reason for this is its new radical approach in regarding human rights not simply in legalistic terms but in the context of human development in a social and economic context."
Jolly added that the publication tried to destroy a series of "myths" about human rights reform. "The most common mistake is to assume that nothing has really changed for the better. The truth, however, is that in the last 10 years, since our report started, there's been steady progress, particularly in countries such as Brazil where local authorities are being held accountable for serious abuses. In the African state of Chad, a former dictator is now being brought to justice for alleged abuses of power."
Switzerland is the eighth largest contributor to the UNDP's budget, which has earned Berne a two-year guest membership of the UNDP's Secretariat Council. Switzerland is not a member of the United Nations.
by Greg Morsbach