The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Switzerland is now president of the UN Security Council

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 1 May 2023
While controversy swirls around Switzerland’s changing definition of neutrality amidst a backdrop of war, the country took a leading role on the UN’s security council today.
Switzerland is now president of the UN Security Council
Switzerland’s President Alain Berset (L) with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) at the start of a meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York, in March 2023 (Keystone SDA).

(Keystone SDA) Switzerland has taken over the presidency of the UN Security Council for a month. Her tenure at the head of the most important UN body began on Monday at midnight New York time (6 a.m. Swiss time).

The role is primarily of a protocol nature: Switzerland will plan and chair the meetings of the UN Security Council and represent the Council to the outside world, for example to the UN General Assembly, like the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) on its side writes. Depending on the topicality, it can also convene meetings at the request of other members.

At the same time, Switzerland’s presidency offers the opportunity to “focus on its priorities” and to give the Council “impulses for its actions.” According to the FDFA, these Swiss priorities include promoting sustainable peace, protecting the civilian population, strengthening international humanitarian law and the impact of climate change on security and peace policy.

Switzerland is now president of the UN Security Council
Members of the Security Council meet in early 2023 (Keystone SDA).
Three Swiss Federal Councilors in New York

The Presidium can also organize its own meetings to give more weight to these priorities. That’s why Switzerland is planning two such “flagship events:” The first will take place on Wednesday, when Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis will lead an open debate on the subject of “promoting sustainable peace.”

At the end of May, Federal President Alain Berset will travel to New York to hold an open debate on the subject of “protecting the civilian population”. According to the EDA, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric should also take part. Also at the end of May, Defense Minister Viola is scheduled to chair a council meeting in New York to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN peacekeeping missions.

Switzerland is now president of the UN Security Council
The United Nations headquarters in Geneva.
International crises at the center

During the Swiss presidency, a number of sensitive issues will also have to be clarified at international level. For example, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to confirm the continued use of the two additional border crossings for humanitarian aid from Turkey. This was extended after the devastating earthquake in February.

In mid-May, Kiev and Moscow are also due to renew the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports. Russia had already halved the timeframe for extending the deal and felt its calls for better fertilizer supplies had made no headway. An extension of the agreement was most recently pending.

Switzerland, which has been a non-permanent member of the Council for two years since January of this year, has been preparing for this presidency for a long time. The teams in Bern, New York and Geneva have been strengthened in recent months. A second presidency is planned for October 2024.

This article was reprinted with permission from Keystone SDA.

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