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UNdecided: Swiss parties consider United Nations membership

The European headquarters of the UN is in Geneva

(Keystone)

The battle lines for those who are for or against Swiss membership of the United Nations are drawn. According to the foreign ministry, the positions of political parties remain unchanged while support for the move is still strongest.

On the one hand, the right-wing People's Party and the Association for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland are firm in their opinion that Switzerland's interests are best served by adopting a neutral stance and staying out of the international organisation.

On the other hand, a large number of other parties on the centre, right and left sides of the political spectrum, as well as trade unions, favour UN membership.

The government launched its traditional 'consultation procedure' in June, and confirms that the balance is tipped in favour of accession to the world body.

The Christian Democratic Party and Radical Party found one page sufficient to document their reasons for joining the UN, while the People's Party detailed their opposition to any such moves on six pages.

The People's Party explained that membership would compromise Switzerland's much-cherished position of neutrality. Admission to the UN would oblige Switzerland to adhere to the UN's rulings, the party explained.

In the case of the recent turmoil in the Balkans, the party pointed out the Switzerland would not have been in a position to bring aid to all sides embroiled in the conflict.

The Association for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland argued in their paper to the government, that Switzerland's image would become tarnished by the power politics of the UN Security Council.

According to the Association, Europe needs a neutral country that can dispatch humanitarian help without being partisan.

Fears for the fate of the country's neutrality has prompted the government to announce a declaration of neutrality if the people vote in favour of UN membership.

The Radical Party argued that UN admission would allow Switzerland to exercise its full right to participate in the search for solutions to global problems at the international level. Furthermore it would mean the country could represent and defend its interests at the UN General Assembly.

The Swiss people are due to vote on UN membership in 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

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