What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

In 2023 and 2024, Switzerland has a seat on the UN Security Council, where it is contributing its expertise in global peace and security to discussions and debates. In May 2023, Switzerland held the council presidency. Scroll the newsticker for background information about Switzerland's Security Council activities and statements.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis sits at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council. In front of him is a wooden sign with the inscription "President".

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired a debate of the UN Security Council on 3 May 2023, which focused on building trust. © FDFA

The UN Security Council in brief

Composition of the UN Security Council 2024

The infographic shows the composition of the UN Security Council in 2023. The permanent 5 members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The elected 10: Algeria, Ecuador, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Composition of the UN Security Council in 2024. © FDFA

Switzerland's priorities and roles in the UN Security Council

Priorities

On 31 August 2022, the Federal Council outlined four priorities for Switzerland's seat on the UN Security Council:

  1. Building sustainable peace
  2. Protecting civilians
  3. Enhancing effectiveness
  4. Addressing climate security

Switzerland strives for credible engagement in the Security Council across the full range of its agenda.

The Swiss priorities in detail

Roles of Switzerland

Lead / Penholderships:

  • Co-penholdership for Syria (humanitarian)
  • Co-penholdership for the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) jointly with Sierra Leone

Chair of subsidiary bodies: 

  • Chair of the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of North Korea 
  • Co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, jointly with Sierra Leone
  • Co-Chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, jointly with Mozambique 
  • Focal Point on Hunger and Conflict, co-chaired with Guyana
  • Focal Point on the International Criminal Court (ICC), jointly with Japan
  • Co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on the Protection of Civilians, jointly with the United Kingdom

Switzerland’s Working Methods Commitments in the UN Security Council (PDF, 1 Page, 74.4 kB, English)

24.05.2024 – West Africa and the Sahel: UN Security Council adopts Swiss presidential statement

The UN Security Council has agreed on a presidential statement on the situation in the Sahel and West Africa. This region is the responsibility of the UN regional office UNOWAS. Switzerland, together with Sierra Leone, is leading this dossier. In February 2023, it succeeded in extending the mandate of UNOWAS for a further three years.

What is a presidential statement?

A presidential statement is a formal statement of the Security Council adopted by consensus and read by the President of the Security Council. In such a statement, the Council expresses its views on a geographical situation or on a current peace or security issue. A presidential statement may reaffirm elements of previous resolutions or serve to initiate future Security Council decisions. 

Street scene in Nigeria.
The UN Security Council has agreed on a presidential statement on the situation in the Sahel and West Africa. © Keystone

The presidential statement sends an important message from the Security Council to West Africa and the Sahel – a region that faces many challenges and is often low on the list of priorities in international fora. There has been no Security Council product on this region for nearly three years. The adoption by consensus is the result of thorough work carried out by the elected States of the Security Council in several rounds of negotiations since the beginning of 2022. In the statement, the Council expresses its concern about security in the region, as well as the humanitarian and political situation.

Security

The presidential statement emphasizes that the Security Council is aware of the difficult security situation in West Africa and the Sahel. Contributing factors include armed conflict, including with armed groups linked to international terrorist organizations, transnational organized crime, and climate change, which is disproportionately affecting the region. In its statement, the Security Council condemns the continuing violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks against civilians and civilian objects. It calls for all actors to be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law or human rights.

Political situation

In the statement, the Security Council emphasizes the progress made in several countries in preserving and promoting democracy, such as the peaceful conduct of elections, dialogue and reconciliation processes. However, the Council also expressed concern about unconstitutional changes of government and attempted coups, which are known to have an impact on peace and security in the region. It emphasizes the importance of restoring constitutional order in countries in the region undergoing political transition. Furthermore, the Council recognizes the good work of UNOWAS in preventing conflicts and tensions and promoting peace and political stability.

Humanitarian situation

In the presidential statement, the Security Council expresses its concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in some parts of the region, caused by conflict and exacerbated by other factors such as climate change. The consequences are increasing forced displacement, extreme poverty and lack of food and water, social inequalities and violence. As a co-leader and within the framework of its priority "Addressing climate security", Switzerland has worked to ensure that this issue is given due consideration. The Security Council calls for unhindered and rapid access to humanitarian and medical aid for all those in need, as well as access to education and health care.

Switzerland worked closely with the co-chairs Ghana (2023) and Sierra Leone (2024) during the negotiations that led to the presidential statement and maintained a dialogue with all Council members.

UN Security Council Presidential Statement on West Africa and the Sahel, 24.05.2024 (PDF, 5 Pages, 174.4 kB, English)

24.05.2024 – Protection for humanitarian personnel: UN Security Council adopts Swiss resolution

On 24 May 2024, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution for the protection of humanitarian and UN personnel in conflict zones. The resolution, which was negotiated and submitted by Switzerland to the Security Council for a vote, highlights the country's long-standing commitment to the protection of civilians – a priority of the Federal Council for Switzerland's 2023–24 term on the council.

The number of armed conflicts worldwide is increasing rapidly. While the world was confronted with around 20 conflicts at the turn of the millennium, this number has now surged to over 120 armed conflicts. Millions of people on almost every continent are in need of humanitarian aid, while the humanitarian and UN personnel providing this vital aid are facing increasing pressure and becoming victims of attacks themselves. More than 500 humanitarian aid workers were victims of violence in 2023, with over 250 killed. Over the past decade, the number of victims from humanitarian aid organisations has risen by more than 50%, with 90% of those affected being national or local employees.

The UN Security Council adopts the Swiss resolution in New York.
The UN Security Council adopts the Swiss resolution on the protection of humanitarian personnel on 24 May 2024. © UN Photo

Switzerland is deeply concerned about the increasing violence against people who provide aid. Such attacks take place in all conflict regions and often hinder life-saving measures. As an elected member of the UN Security Council, Switzerland took the initiative to negotiate a draft resolution on the protection of humanitarian and UN personnel. The adoption of the resolution is an important signal for the protection of civilians. The resolution garnered widespread support, with a total of 98 UN member states co-sponsoring the initiative.

Through this resolution, the Security Council specifically calls on UN member states to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect humanitarian and UN personnel, including national and local staff, as well as their premises and assets. The resolution also addresses emerging threats faced by humanitarian and UN personnel, including disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining their work. The Security Council expressly calls on all states, as well as state and non-state parties to conflicts, to respect and protect humanitarian and UN personnel. The resolution mandates the UN secretary-general to provide the Security Council with concrete recommendations within six months on how to better prevent such attacks and combat impunity.

The adoption of this resolution not only reinforces Switzerland's enduring commitment to humanitarian principles but also serves as a timely reminder of the importance of international humanitarian law, especially as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions in August. Providing support and protection to people in need is a cornerstone of Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2024–27. 

Article: UN Security Council adopts Swiss resolution

UN Security Council resolution on the protection of humanitarian personnel, 24 May 2024 (PDF, 8 Pages, 251.8 kB, English)

23.05.2024 – African countries' expertise in conflict prevention must be further mobilised

“Many new opportunities are emerging for Africa.” This is what Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis wrote in the foreword to the Federal Council's Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021-2024. It was precisely this potential that was at the centre of an open debate at the UN Security Council today, chaired by Mozambique. ‘We can further mobilise the potential of African countries based on their experience in the field of prevention,’ emphasised Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.

Two women behind a market stall in Uganda filled with ripe tomatoes.
Mobilising the potential of African states for conflict prevention can make an important contribution to peace and security in Africa and around the world. © Keystone

Africa continues to face various challenges. Instability and conflict on the African continent stem from a mixture of profound causes: lack of economic prospects, weak state presence in some regions, competition for resources and the indirect consequences of climate change. Effective conflict prevention must take all these instability factors and their interactions into account.

In New York, Switzerland emphasised that the knowledge and insights of African states from a decades-long tradition of conflict resolution and mediation have great potential for national conflict prevention. This also includes dealing with the past, which is an important pillar for creating sustainable peace. For example, there is a special court in Sierra Leone and a truth commission in South Africa to establish justice for victims of human rights violations. Such institutions also serve to prevent future atrocities and promote the reconciliation of communities.

African states and the African Union are well positioned to play an important role in prevention not only on the African continent but also at multilateral level. In New York, the representative of Switzerland emphasised the great potential of increased cooperation between the African Union and the UN Security Council. The Council can learn from the experiences of African countries in the area of conflict prevention. For example, the exchange between the Security Council and the African Union planned during the Swiss Security Council Presidency in October 2024 is an important instrument for the mutual exchange of information.

Statement by Switzerland on strengthening the role of African states in global security, UN Security Council, 23 May 2024

21.05.2024 – Debate in the UN Security Council during the Protection of Civilians Week

In 1999, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that for the first time introduced the protection of civilians in armed conflict. 25 years later, this issue, which was established as a guarantor of international peace and security, is increasingly facing serious threats. With increasing challenges such as the difficulty of humanitarian access into Gaza, sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Sudan, attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and three million people displaced by the conflict in Myanmar, the principles of international humanitarian law are being eroded.

Ambassador Thomas Gürber speaks at the UN Security Council.
In a context where the nature of warfare is constantly changing, mechanisms for compliance with international rules must be strengthened, emphasised Ambassador Thomas Gürber in New York. © FDFA

Today's debate at the UN Security Council, initiated by Mozambique, aimed to reaffirm the historical importance of the international rules that have been established over the last century, since the signing of the Geneva Conventions 75 years ago. The aim of today's exchange was to strengthen the protection of civilians worldwide. The commitment of UN member states and other stakeholders is central to upholding and promoting the principles of international humanitarian law and strengthening human rights.

The Geneva Conventions are the foundation of the normative architecture that we have built brick by brick from the ruins of war to protect civilians.
Ambassador Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary of the FDFA

“The Geneva Conventions are the foundation of the normative architecture that we have built stone by stone from the ruins of war to protect the civilian population. It is therefore difficult to understand why we are now deconstructing our own work with words and deeds,” explained FDFA Deputy State Secretary Thomas Gürber during the Council debate. Stronger mechanisms are needed to ensure compliance with the rules and accountability, particularly in a context where the nature and methods of warfare are constantly changing.

In the Security Council, Switzerland appealed to the common sense of parties to a conflict. In particular, it calls for rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian aid, which de facto means better protection for the staff of humanitarian organisations. “Let's change this. Let's fulfil our responsibility,” concluded Thomas Gürber.

Article: The Security Council resolution on the protection of civilians is 25 years old

Statement by Switzerland at the open debate on the protection of civilians, UN Security Council, 21.05.2024

20.05.2024 – Middle East: Switzerland calls for immediate ceasefire and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions

The UN Security Council today addressed the humanitarian situation and the plight of civilians in the Middle East. Scores of civilians continue to be killed and injured in the Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing hostilities. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Against this background, Switzerland has called in the Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the ongoing military operation in Rafah. The consequences of this operation for the civilian population in Rafah, which has been suffering from bombardments, repeated displacement and hunger for more than seven months, are unacceptable. What the population needs today is support, not more suffering," emphasized Switzerland's UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.

In its statement, Switzerland referred to the numerous resolutions adopted by the Security Council to condemn and stop attacks on civilians, hostage-taking and acts of terrorism. The terrorist acts by Hamas and the hostage-taking of October 7, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms, violate all these resolutions. Switzerland continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

In the Council, Switzerland welcomed the fact that the possibility of delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip by sea has been created. At the same time, it pointed out that the humanitarian aid currently reaching Gaza was far from sufficient. It called on all parties to fulfil their obligations to ensure humanitarian access throughout the Gaza Strip. It is also essential that the parties ensure the protection of humanitarian personnel so that they can fully carry out their tasks.

In view of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East, Switzerland called for the immediate implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions. These resolutions are binding under international law and oblige all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. Switzerland also reiterated its support for a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders. Such a solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 20.05.2024

17.05.2024 – Swiss Arria meeting at the Security Council: Unlocking the potential of science for peace and security

On 17 May 2024, Switzerland organised an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that focused on strengthening the interplay between science and the work of the Security Council. To this end, it brought speakers from two key Swiss scientific institutions, GESDA and ETH, to New York. ‘The Security Council has a mandate to deal with the many crises that are shaking the world. But even in these difficult times, it is crucial that we take a longer-term view,’ said Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary of the FDFA, addressing the Security Council. The number of conflicts in the world is increasing and the challenges to peace and security in the world are becoming ever more complex. The consequences of climate change are exacerbating existing risks, new technologies are having a profound impact on our societies and disinformation is threatening trust between states.

Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary of the FDFA, during his speech at the Arria meeting of the UN Security Council.
Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary of the FDFA, emphasises the importance of science for peace and security in the world at the UN Security Council. © FDFA

The meeting, organised by Switzerland, aimed to gather perspectives on how the Security Council could strengthen its interaction with the scientific community to put evidence-based knowledge at the service of peace and security. Science has the potential to strengthen trust between states. ‘Trust is based on mutual understanding, but also on reliable facts and knowledge. Scientific actors have the tools and experience to produce reliable knowledge,’ emphasised Thomas Gürber in New York. The Security Council needs to act decisively on the basis of scientific findings in order to understand, anticipate and address risks to peace and security.

To ensure this in concrete terms, Switzerland is already promoting dialogue between UN member states and the academic world, for example, in order to better understand specific risk multipliers for conflicts such as climate change in certain operational contexts of UN peacekeeping missions. In doing so, it can draw on its experience from the Swiss ‘Blue Peace’ initiative, in which it combines sound knowledge with political dialogue to promote regional and cross-border cooperation on the peaceful management of limited water resources. Switzerland's long-term goal is a UN that works with the latest tools and methods based on data and scientific knowledge. This harbours great potential for better supporting the work of the Security Council and UN peacekeeping missions on the ground.

News article: Interview with GESDA and ETH on the potential of science for peace and security

Media release: UN Security Council: Utilising the potential of science for peace and security, 17.05.2024

Declaration by Switzerland on harnessing the potential of science for peace and security, UN Security Council, 17.05.2024

15.05.2024 – Bosnia and Herzegovina: Perspectives for young people, trust in institutions and dealing with the past are key to sustainable peace

Almost 30 years have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Dayton Peace Agreement, which was signed by the conflict parties on 14 December 1995, laid the foundations for the formation of a multi-ethnic state with a democratically elected government and for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, tensions between the various ethnic groups in society continue to flare up. "Switzerland reaffirms its commitment to supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path to peace, stability and prosperity and to building a united future for the young generation," emphasised Switzerland in the Security Council.

The human remains of a person missing since 1995 are buried in a cemetery in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Human remains of Bosnian Muslim victims of the Serb offensive in 1995 are still being identified and buried today. Clarifying the fate of missing persons is central to the process of dealing with the past. © Keystone

A crucial aspect of achieving this is creating prospects for people throughout the country. For example, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is supporting the Youth for Change project, which is being implemented by the Mozaik Foundation to mobilise and empower young entrepreneurs to drive economic and political change in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project aims to support young innovative people between 2016 and 2026 to represent inclusive economic and social values and create jobs. They act as role models for other young people and contribute to the prosperity of the country and thus to the well-being of all. Over 450,000 people across the country have taken part in the project so far.

In addition to creating perspectives, society's trust in the functioning of state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the constitutional order and in the protection of fundamental freedoms must be strengthened. This lays the foundation for a democratic, peaceful and stable society. Switzerland also emphasised in the Security Council that all parties must step up their efforts to promote peaceful coexistence and reconciliation and refrain from hate speech and divisive rhetoric. Historical and legal reappraisal of the past is also necessary in order to prevent violence and create sustainable peace.

Declaration by Switzerland on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Security Council, 15.05.2024

 

29.04.2024 – Switzerland supports the extension of the UN mission in South Sudan

The UN Security Council today extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for a further year. Switzerland supported the resolution in New York because UNMISS makes an important contribution to the protection of civilians and the promotion of sustainable peace, both priorities of its Council membership. The tasks of UNMISS include promoting the implementation of the peace agreement, strengthening international humanitarian law and human rights, and providing logistical support for humanitarian programmes in the country.

Two white off-road vehicles labelled "UN" and "Ambulance" are parked in a sandy square.
A medical team from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) treats South Sudanese civilians in the country's capital, Juba. © UN Photo

After decades of conflict, South Sudan gained political independence in 2011. However, the new government collapsed in 2013 and a civil war began that ended with a peace agreement in 2018. But this peace is deceptive: the many problems that tore society apart still exist, and the deep traumas of the recent wars remain unresolved. Political reforms that would address these challenges are still a long way off. Elections are scheduled for December 2024, but there is no confirmation that they will take place.

Switzerland has already underlined its full support for the UNMISS mandate in a public briefing to the Security Council on 5 March 2024. At that time, it also underlined key aspects that are central to stability and security in South Sudan. These include the creation of a secure environment for the holding of elections. Free, fair and inclusive elections, which the resolution adopted today also mandates UNMISS to support, are central to the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement. On the other hand, the already precarious humanitarian situation needs to be improved. This has deteriorated significantly as a result of the ongoing war in Sudan since mid-April. To date, more than half a million Sudanese refugees have found shelter in Southern Sudan. The influx of people from Sudan exacerbates existing economic, social and political tensions and has a negative impact on South Sudan's fragile food security situation. This is already under pressure from conflict, displacement and climate change. Rapid and unhindered humanitarian access is essential to deliver aid to people in need. It is also essential to protect humanitarian personnel.

A fragile peace in South Sudan

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in South Sudan, UN Security Council, 05.03.2024

22.04.2024 – Promoting free, fair and secure elections in Haiti

Haiti is currently experiencing a multidimensional crisis and the security situation in the country is deteriorating significantly. Criminal gangs still control large areas of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and are extending their influence to other parts of the country. Gang violence, internal displacement, human rights abuses, kidnappings and sexual violence continue to undermine the prospects for peace on the island. The escalating violence is having a dramatic impact on the civilian population.

A young woman at an IDP site in Port-au-Prince.
Haiti's capital experienced a calm day, with no clashes between gangs and police, allowing people to get to church and the market. © Keystone

A Transitional Presidential Council has been formed to appoint a new interim Prime Minister and a Council of Ministers. Facilitated by CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, the creation of the Presidential Transitional Council is intended to promote an inclusive and participatory inter-Haitian dialogue, which is the only way to achieve a political solution to the crisis. It will have the difficult task of facilitating the holding of free, participatory, fair and secure elections.

In a briefing to the UN Security Council today, Switzerland welcomed the recent formation of the Presidential Transitional Council and the facilitating role played by CARICOM. "Given the importance of the phase of political transition opened up by these encouraging measures, it is essential that they are implemented swiftly and inclusively, without creating a political vacuum that could further disrupt the fragile security situation," Adrian Hauri told the Council.

Responding to the hopes of the Haitian people

Switzerland also reiterated the need for a significant increase in humanitarian aid to meet the needs of the Haitian population. Nearly half of the Haitian population suffers from food insecurity as a result of gang violence, in particular due to movement restrictions and supply difficulties throughout the country. It also praised the work and efforts of the staff of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).

Finally, Switzerland called on the international community to use all available means to support the Haitian National Police. In particular, Switzerland called for the rapid deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MMSS) authorised by the UN Security Council on 2 October. The situation is at a tipping point and it may soon be too late to act," Switzerland said in its statement. The Security Council and the international community must continue their efforts to respond to the hopes of the Haitian people.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Haiti, UN Security Council, 22.04.2024

22.04.2024 – Building trust is central to the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo

The UN Security Council today discussed the current situation in Kosovo in the presence of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani. In its statement, Switzerland underlined that trust between the two countries must be further strengthened in the interest of both communities. To this end, both parties must focus on moderate rhetoric, strive for further progress in the EU-led normalisation process and follow up on commitments already made with concrete actions.

The flags of Switzerland and Kosovo stand side by side in the Federal Palace West.
Switzerland is helping to build trust between the Kosovar and Serbian communities in Kosovo, for example in the area of dealing with the past. © Keystone

Through its good offices, Switzerland is committed to building constructive relations between the parties. Since 2015, for example, it has been organising meetings in parallel with the EU-led dialogue to facilitate personal contacts between representatives of Kosovo and Serbian political parties. "Both sides share the responsibility for reducing tensions," Switzerland stressed in the Security Council.

Building mutual trust between the ethnic groups is the key to reducing escalation. An important aspect in this area is dealing with the past. For example, Switzerland has supported Kosovo in setting up a truth and reconciliation commission. It is also helping families to clarify the fate of missing or imprisoned persons.

Switzerland's international cooperation in Kosovo focuses on three thematic areas: democratic governance and peace; sustainable economic development; and climate change, water and health. Gender aspects are also taken into account in all projects.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Kosovo, UN Security Council, 22.04.2024

19.04.2024 – The OSCE is a central pillar of the peace architecture in Europe

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN Security Council share the same goal: to establish and maintain peace and security. The Security Council is committed to this mandate at the global level, the OSCE at the regional level. Co-operation between the two multilateral bodies is essential. This was the focus of a briefing to the Security Council today.

White OSCE off-road vehicles parked in a car park in a conflict zone.
Among other things, the OSCE monitors and mediates in conflict zones, thereby contributing to the prevention and resolution of conflicts. © Keystone

The establishment of the OSCE nearly 50 years ago laid the foundation for a peaceful, rules-based order in the OSCE region, as envisioned by the UN Charter. The war against Ukraine has shaken the OSCE and presented it with new challenges, but it continues to make an important contribution to stability in many regions of our continent. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, for example, it is helping to prevent and resolve conflicts peacefully. In the Western Balkans, the OSCE promotes democratic governance, inclusive elections, human rights, economic activity and the involvement of young people in political processes. These are all key factors for sustainable peace - one of Switzerland's priorities for its membership of the UN Security Council.

As an impartial mediator and observer, and through its independent election monitoring, the OSCE is a central pillar of the architecture of peace and security in Europe, especially in times of increased pressure. Parallel to its seat on the UN Security Council, Switzerland is also committed to effective multilateralism and peace within the OSCE. It attaches great importance to coherence between the two bodies. A secure Europe also requires a strong and effective OSCE.

Statement by Switzerland, OSCE briefing, UN Security Council, 19.04.2024

18.04.2024 – Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations

Palestine's application for full UN membership will not be submitted to the UN General Assembly due to the veto by the United States on 18 April in the UN Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote. After assessing the situation and consulting with the chairs of the parliamentary foreign affairs committees, the Federal Council concluded that granting Palestine full UN membership at this time would not be conducive to easing the situation and peace efforts in the Middle East. Switzerland remains committed to the two-state solution.

Palestine has had observer state status at the United Nations since 2012. It reactivated its previously inconclusive 2011 application for full UN membership on 2 April 2024. Full UN membership is decided by the UN General Assembly in accordance with the UN Charter. The UN Security Council must make a positive recommendation for admission before the General Assembly can vote on a membership application. Since the United States vetoed the recommendation for Palestine's membership, the application will not proceed to a vote in the General Assembly.

In view of the current highly unstable situation in the Middle East and from an overall peace policy perspective, Switzerland believes that admitting Palestine as a full UN member is not advisable at this time. The Federal Council therefore decided that Switzerland would abstain from the vote on the Palestinian application in the UN Security Council. Before making this decision, the Federal Council conducted a thorough assessment of the overall geopolitical situation and consulted with the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of both the National Council and the Council of States, as required by Article 152 paragraph 4 of the Parliament Act. Switzerland considers that it would be better to proceed with Palestine's accession to the United Nations as a full member at a time when such a step would fit in with the logic of an emerging peace.

Switzerland remains committed to the two-state solution. The Federal Council, as outlined in the MENA Strategy 2021–24, firmly believes that lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through a negotiated two-state solution that adheres to international law and internationally agreed parameters.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 18.04.2024

Press release: Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations, 18.04.2024

News platform: Situation in the Middle East

18.04.2024 – Middle East: two-state solution is the basis for lasting peace

The UN Security Council held a ministerial debate on the current situation in the Middle East. In view of recent developments and the escalating spiral of violence, Switzerland emphasized in its statement the urgent need for de-escalation and respect for international law. "Respect for the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and human rights must be a guiding principle for all parties to the conflict," Switzerland's UN Ambassador told the Security Council.

Since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, which Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms, the Security Council has adopted three resolutions that have not been implemented. In New York today, Switzerland called for their immediate implementation. "The ceasefire called for in the resolution of March 25 has not been respected, not all hostages have been released and numerous civilians are becoming victims of the hostilities every day," recalled the Swiss ambassador to the UN.

The already dramatic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating rapidly and famine is imminent. Humanitarian aid must be channeled unhindered through all possible border crossings and distributed throughout the Gaza Strip, including the north. Switzerland also reiterated its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.

At the same time, it is important not to lose sight of the situation in the West Bank. Violence there has reached record levels, including settler violence, which Switzerland condemns.

In New York, Switzerland called on all parties for strict compliance with international humanitarian law. It remains convinced that the basis for lasting peace in the Middle East is a two-state solution. Only this solution, negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law, can lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "Switzerland is ready to contribute constructively to such a solution," emphasized the Swiss ambassador in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 18.04.2024

17.04.2024 – Young people play a key role in peace

On 17 April 2024, the UN Security Council held a debate on the role of young people in peace in the Mediterranean Basin. Switzerland considers that young people must be provided with an environment in which they can develop and contribute to social cohesion, the reduction of tensions and the economy.

"The fate of every nation depends on its youth", says an Arabic proverb - a language spoken by many young people in the Mediterranean region. Young people play an important role in peacebuilding. Many young men and women in the Mediterranean Basin have grown up with wars and conflicts, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syria and the Middle East, for example. In addition, there are other challenges such as a lack of economic prospects, barriers to political participation and the negative consequences of climate change, which are particularly felt in the Mediterranean region.

Young people stand on a staircase.
Legal and institutional barriers must be broken down so that young people's ideas for peace can be heard. © Keystone

In their search for a better life, these young people are increasingly losing trust in state institutions. A lack of state protection, forced displacement or arbitrary arrests are factors that accelerate the loss of trust. Despite this, many young people in the Mediterranean countries are showing resilience and advocating for a better future. Their resilience and drive are key pillars for building sustainable peace – a priority for Switzerland in its mandate at the UN Security Council.

"The willingness of youth to engage is undeniable. What is needed is the willingness of political leaders to do their part," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in the Council. In its statement in New York, Switzerland emphasised the elements that are necessary for young people to participate effectively and develop their potential: Empowerment, appreciation and protection. Firstly, young people need sustainable economic prospects in order to promote trust and participation in politics. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, Switzerland is supporting young people in developing professional skills as part of the "Youth for Change" project. Furthermore, legal and institutional barriers must be lifted so that young people's ideas for peace are heard. For the Security Council, for example, this could mean better implementing its resolutions on the youth, peace and security agenda with the help of an action plan. Finally, young people need offline and online platforms where they can express themselves without fear of reprisals. Hate speech and discrimination should give way to intercultural and intergenerational dialogue.

Swiss statement on the role of young people for peace, UN Security Council, 17.04.2024

05.04.2024 – Middle East: Emergency meeting on the threat of famine and attacks on humanitarian personnel

In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel. The meeting was requested by Switzerland, among others. Despite the adoption of the resolution of 25 March 2024, which calls for an immediate ceasefire, the fighting continues. The resulting lack of access to food and inadequate water supplies are catastrophic for the civilian population. According to UNICEF, nowhere else in the world is child malnutrition as precarious as in the Gaza Strip.

In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel.
In an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council addressed the catastrophic food security situation in the Gaza Strip and attacks on humanitarian personnel. UN Photo

Only humanitarian aid could provide a remedy. However, widespread insecurity and restrictions on movement are forcing humanitarian organisations to stop their work. "The Gaza Strip has become the most dangerous place for humanitarian workers," emphasised Swiss Ambassador Adrian Hauri, Chargé d'affaires at the UN Security Council. In New York, Switzerland expressed its respect for all humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives every day in the Middle East. "Our thoughts today are with the organisations and families of the two hundred or so humanitarian workers who have been killed in Gaza since 7 October. Attacks on humanitarian workers are a violation of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately," said Adrian Hauri.

Switzerland reminded the Council of the International Court of Justice's call for Israel to work closely with the UN to ensure the provision of urgently needed basic supplies and humanitarian aid by all parties involved. In view of this, Switzerland once again appealed to the parties to strictly observe international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law. Switzerland emphatically called for the implementation of all Middle East resolutions adopted by the Security Council since the escalation of violence last October. "An immediate ceasefire is the only way to ensure that no more civilian lives are lost," emphasised the Swiss ambassador. In addition, all hostages still being held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 05.04.2024

04.04.2024 – Worsening conflicts in Myanmar: Switzerland calls for action

The UN Security Council has discussed the situation in Myanmar. Since the military coup in 2021, the country has been facing a deep political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis. Armed groups in different parts of the country have been fighting against military forces for many years. The escalation of violence has had a devastating impact on the civilian population. Human rights violations and large-scale internal displacement are taking place throughout the country.

A woman and a child are seen against the backdrop of temporary shelters set up for displaced Rohingya refugees.
The Rohingya crisis has not been resolved since 2017. More than one million people have been displaced from Myanmar and are now living in camps in Bangladesh with no prospect of safe return. © Keystone

In the Council, Switzerland condemned the escalation of the armed conflicts, which have intensified since the military takeover, and called for dialogue between all conflict parties in order to find a political solution. Independent reports indicating that war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been committed in Myanmar are a cause for concern. In New York, Switzerland appealed to the conflict parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. It also stressed that all parties must allow rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access. The protection of civilians and humanitarian and medical personnel must be guaranteed. Furthermore, close cooperation between the UN and regional actors such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is essential for mediation and the provision of humanitarian aid.

In its statement, Switzerland stressed the need for the UN Security Council to play a more active role in building peace and security in Myanmar. It is therefore ready to support Council measures to reduce violence, protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Myanmar, UN Security Council, 04.04.2024

02.04.2024 – Middle East: Air strike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus

Switzerland condemns the airstrike against the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus, which killed and injured several people. This airstrike considerably increases the risk of a major escalation in the region. The spiral of escalation must stop immediately. Switzerland calls on all parties to engage in dialogue and exercise the utmost restraint in order to prevent the situation from escalating further and to find a solution. Switzerland also emphasised this today at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on the airstrike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus, UN Security Council, 02.04.2024

28.03.2024 – Expert Panel on North Korea Sanctions will not be extended

The extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the Implementation of Sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) failed today in the UN Security Council due to a Russian veto. The Security Council has imposed sanctions on the DPRK since 2006 in an effort to curb its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions include a range of measures, including trade and financial restrictions and an arms embargo, aimed at cutting off the flow of resources and technology that could be used for the DPRK's military programs.

Truck with a ballistic missile travelling during a military parade in a square in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Switzerland actively opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons and therefore supported the resolution to extend the mandate of the sanctions expert panel for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. © Keystone

The Panel of Experts is a group of independent experts appointed by the Security Council to monitor the implementation of Council sanctions. The Panel's main task is to investigate and report to the Security Council on the implementation of sanctions. The experts collect and analyze information on potential violations and recommend measures to enforce the sanctions. Through its work, the Panel of Experts contributes to improving the implementation of sanctions.

In New York, Switzerland supported the resolution to extend the Panel of Experts and regrets today's decision by the Council. In its foreign policy, Switzerland actively opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons and continues to assume responsibility in the UN Security Council as Chair of the Sanctions Committee for the DPRK. In this role, Switzerland is committed to building consensus among Council members and ensuring the proper functioning of the Committee in a context of heightened political tensions. It will continue this commitment after today's Council decision.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 28.03.2024

Press statement by Switzerland, New York, 28.03.2024

25.03.2024 – Middle East: UN Security Council calls for immediate ceasefire

On 25 March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The Council calls for an immediate ceasefire for the remainder of Ramadan, which should lead to a lasting sustainable ceasefire. The resolution was submitted to the Security Council for a vote by Switzerland together with the nine other non-permanent Council members as co-penholders.

After several vetoes, the UN Security Council today adopted, for the first time since 7 October, a resolution clearly calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. Switzerland, which played a key role in finding a solution between the Council members during the negotiations, welcomes this adoption. In view of the dramatic consequences of the conflict for the civilian population, a clear appeal by the Security Council was essential. 

The UN Security Council votes.
On 25 March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The Council calls for an immediate ceasefire for the remainder of Ramadan. © FDFA

The Council reiterates its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights. The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, the protection of the civilian population and humanitarian access. The Council also deplores all acts of terrorism and recalls that the taking of hostages is prohibited under international law.

In its statement after the vote, Switzerland underlined the central importance of this resolution. It responds to the most urgent needs on the ground and must be implemented immediately with a view to a lasting sustainable ceasefire. In New York, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of Hamas's terrorist acts on 7 October and emphasised that the two-state solution is the only perspective for peace in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in dignity and security.

Switzerland worked tirelessly with all members of the Council to facilitate the adoption of this resolution. Today's decision by the Council underlines the weight of the non-permanent members of the Council who, despite the blockades, have enabled the Security Council to fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security.

Statement from Switzerland after the vote, 25.03.2024

22 .03.2024 – Middle East: US resolution fails in the UN Security Council due to a veto

A US-drafted resolution on the situation in the Middle East failed in the UN Security Council today due to a veto by Russia and China. The resolution would have stressed the need for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. To that end, the resolution would have supported the ongoing diplomatic negotiations led by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt. Among other things, this resolution demanded that the parties comply with their obligations under international law and called for an increase in humanitarian aid. Switzerland considers it necessary to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. In particular, such a measure should facilitate the release of the hostages and the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to and within the Gaza Strip. Switzerland supported the resolution in New York and deplores the outcome of the vote. There is an urgent need for the Security Council to call on the parties to respect international humanitarian law and protect the civilian population.

In its statement after the vote, Switzerland stressed that the adoption of this resolution would have sent a clear call to the parties to fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights. The resolution would also have sent a signal to the parties to work towards a durable ceasefire, almost six months after the acts of terrorism by Hamas, which Switzerland condemned. In addition, the resolution would have emphasized the centrality of a two-state solution as the only basis for peace and security in the region.

Statement after the vote on the US resolution, UN Security Council, 22 March 2024

18.03.2024 – Haiti: civilian population suffers from gang violence

The security situation in Haiti is rapidly deteriorating. Criminal gangs control large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and are expanding their influence into other regions of the country. Gang violence, displacement, human rights abuses, kidnappings and sexual violence are on the rise, undermining peace, stability and security in Haiti and the region. The escalation of violence, which recently culminated in the liberation of thousands of prisoners from various prisons, has had a devastating impact on the civilian population. According to the UN, more than five million people in Haiti are at risk of acute hunger.

A family with a child flees the violence in Haiti with their belongings in a wheelbarrow.
Gang violence in Haiti has displaced some 360,000 people within Haiti. © Keystone

Last October, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a multinational security assistance mission to Haiti. While Kenya has agreed to lead the police mission, the deployment has been delayed due to internal political processes. In light of the escalating situation in Haiti, the Security Council recently met three times in two weeks to discuss the crisis. Last week, the Council issued a statement calling on relevant actors to take action. It condemned the violence and called on the armed gangs to immediately cease their destabilizing actions. The Council also expressed its expectation that the Security Council mission would be deployed to Haiti as soon as possible. In addition, the Council emphasized the need to create the security conditions for an inclusive political process and free and fair elections in Haiti. Last week, it was announced that a Presidential Council and an interim Prime Minister would replace the resigned Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The UN Security Council met again today for closed consultations. Switzerland is committed to ensuring that the Council continues to support Haiti in its efforts to achieve peace, stability and security. On the ground, Swiss development cooperation continues to support the Haitian people.

15.03.2024 – The UN Security Council extends the UN mission in Afghanistan

The UN Security Council has unanimously extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year. Afghanistan faces a number of complex crises affecting the economy and human rights, particularly women's rights. In addition, the effects of climate change pose a serious challenge to the country. Increasing competition for water has the potential to exacerbate conflict, instability and insecurity beyond Afghanistan's borders. The country also suffers from a severe humanitarian crisis. Nearly 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

A woman and a man warm their hands by a fire in Afghanistan. The ground is covered in snow.
Civilians in Afghanistan are suffering a humanitarian crisis. Harsh winter temperatures are exacerbating the situation. © Keystone

Switzerland supports the resolution in the Council and welcomes its adoption today. UNAMA plays an important role for the civilian population in Afghanistan. UNAMA provides humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, promotes human rights, protects children affected by armed conflict and supports gender equality. The mission is also mandated to promote development and governance in Afghanistan, particularly the rule of law. These are all issues that play a central role in Swiss foreign policy. On the ground, Switzerland works with partner organizations such as the UN, the ICRC and NGOs to reduce human suffering.

12.03.2024 – Women play a key role in achieving peace and security

On the fringes of the 68th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), President Amherd took part in an informal Arria formula meeting of the UN Security Council in on "Women, Peace and Security". Switzerland organized the meeting. "For Switzerland, there is no doubt: peace is inseparable from gender equality and women's rights," the President of the Confederation emphasized in New York. Their participation in peace processes, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction is essential. 

President Amherd speaks at an informal Arria formula meeting of the UN Security Council in on "Women, Peace and Security".
In New York, President Viola Amherd emphasized that peace is inseparable from gender equality and women's rights. © DDPS

Within the framework of its priority "Promoting sustainable peace", Switzerland pursues the goal of strengthening the equal participation of women in international peace and security efforts. Given the current global political situation, this is no easy task. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is today the most important normative framework for the rights of women and girls worldwide. "It must be respected and implemented, especially in the context of our discussions in the Security Council," the President emphasized. Another instrument is UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the nine successive resolutions on "Women, Peace and Security". Switzerland was one of the first countries to adopt a national action plan to implement these resolutions. In order to guarantee the rights of women and girls at all times, in times of peace as well as in times of conflict, Viola Amherd requested at today's Council meeting that the synergies between CEDAW and the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda be strengthened. In this way, Switzerland would also like to strengthen the links between Geneva, the seat of the UN human rights organizations, and New York, the seat of the Security Council.

Statement by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Viola Amherd, on "Women, Peace and Security", UN Security Council, 12.03.2024

11.03.2024 – Middle East: Sexual violence is a serious violation of international humanitarian law

At its meeting today, the UN Security Council discussed the report of the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, released on March 4, following her visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to the report, there is reason to believe that women and girls were raped and tortured in various locations during the terrorist attacks coordinated by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7. In New York, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist acts and reiterated its condemnation of all sexual violence in conflicts. In addition, the Patten report assumes that the hostages still being held are being subjected to sexual violence. In New York, Switzerland also reiterated its call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Sexual violence in conflict situations is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights. "It is therefore imperative that the Security Council unanimously condemns all conflict-related sexual violence in the context of the Middle East conflict, as in all armed conflicts, and takes action to prevent its recurrence," said Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, at the Security Council meeting. She also emphasized that those responsible must be identified and held accountable. The relevant UN bodies must be guaranteed appropriate access. Switzerland drew attention to the ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court. These are looking into all violations of international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since October 7.

Switzerland also expressed its deep concern at the information contained in the report on forms of sexual and gender-based violence against Palestinian men and women in detention centers, during house searches and at checkpoints. It condemned the fact that the hostilities in Gaza continue to cause numerous civilian casualties, including nearly 9,000 women. According to the UN, 95% of mothers do not have enough to eat. During today's Council meeting, Switzerland reiterated the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to release hostages, allow humanitarian access and protect civilians. "The Security Council must at all costs put an end to the current spiral of violence in the Middle East and relaunch a process of dialogue with a view to finding a political solution to this conflict, in which women play a key role," said the Swiss representative in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on gender-based violence in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 11.03.2024

11.03.2024 – Good working methods are central to the functioning of the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today discussed its working methods in an annual open debate. The aim of the meeting, which was held at the initiative of the Japanese presidency, was to exchange views on the Council's accountability, transparency and effectiveness in order to better fulfill its mandate to maintain peace and security in the world. This issue is central to Switzerland's priority of "strengthening the effectiveness of the Security Council". The non-permanent members of the Council (Elected Ten, E10) – including Switzerland - issued a joint statement during the debate.

View of the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council.
In New York, the E10 underlined their determination to work towards ensuring that the Council can fulfill its mandate effectively – especially in these challenging times. © FDFA

In New York, the E10 emphasized their determination to work to ensure that the Council can effectively fulfill its mandate, especially in these challenging times. In their statement, the E10 emphasized the need to strengthen the Council's cooperation with other UN bodies, such as the General Assembly. The equal participation of women and the integration of a gender perspective in all working methods was also emphasized. Civil society perspectives should also be taken into account. The E10 also emphasized the importance of targeted sanctions as an important tool of the Council. The E10 also expressed concern about the frequent use of the veto, which has prevented the adoption of important resolutions in recent months. This can limit confidence in the Security Council. In line with the Code of Conduct of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT Group), they called for restraint in the use of the veto, particularly in cases requiring action to prevent and stop mass atrocities.

As part of the open debate, Switzerland also contributed to a statement by the ACT Group, which is coordinated by Switzerland and works for a transparent, effective, efficient and inclusive UN Security Council.

E10 Statement on the Working Methods of the UN Security Council, 11.03.2024

07.03.2024 – Sudan: UN Security Council Resolution calls for a ceasefire

Sudan is the scene of one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. As a result of the escalation of the conflict in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), almost 25 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, according to UN figures. Everything is lacking, particularly food, water, shelter and medical care.

A man displaced inside Sudan walks along a road with his belongings.
Millions of people have been displaced in Sudan since the start of hostilities. The humanitarian need is immense. © Keystone

Against this backdrop, the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities during the month of Ramadan, which begins on 10 March. The Council also calls on the parties to the conflict to endeavour to find a sustainable solution to the conflict, to strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and to allow safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

Switzerland supported the resolution in New York because it reflects three different priority aspects. These include the protection of the civilian population, the improvement of the humanitarian situation and the search for a political solution to the conflict. In the Security Council, Switzerland emphasised its deep concerned regarding reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. This also includes sexual and ethnic-based violence. «We reiterate our urgent call on the SAF and the RSF to immediately cease hostilities, to respect their obligations under international law and to protect civilians», said Swiss Ambassador to the UN Pascale Baeriswyl at a Security Council briefing on the situation in Sudan on 7 March.

Switzerland welcomed the announcement made by the Sudanese authorities on 5 March, which reversed the decision taken in February to suspend cross-border humanitarian aid from Chad. This decision also opens up further border crossings and selected airports for humanitarian aid. In the Council yesterday, Switzerland called for this announcement to be implemented swiftly: «Cross-border delivery remains essential to reach more people. We continue to call on the parties to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access across borders and frontlines». Finally, Switzerland emphasised the need for a lasting negotiated solution to the conflict. It called on the parties to the conflict to return immediately to negotiations on a ceasefire and to a credible and inclusive political dialogue. Against this backdrop, Switzerland welcomes today's adoption of the resolution.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Sudan, UN Security Council, 07.03.2024

27.02.2024 – Middle East: Acute food insecurity in Gaza

The worsening food crisis facing the population of the Gaza Strip was at the focus of a UN Security Council meeting today. The meeting was convened at the request of Switzerland and Guyana in their roles as the Council’s co-focal points on "Hunger and Conflict". According to information from the UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA), the level of food insecurity and the associated risk of famine in the Gaza Strip is alarming. The escalation of hostilities in the Middle East since October 7 is the main cause of this acute need. The fighting is negatively impacting Gaza’s water supply, agriculture and food. The situation was already worrying due to the poverty that has prevailed since the closure of the Gaza Strip in 2008, which restricted movement and access. According to OCHA, one in four people in Gaza is now severly malnourished – more than half a million people. Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with disabilities, and the elderly are at a particularly high risk of death.

The dramatic situation is exacerbated by the severe restrictions on the transport of food into and within the Gaza Strip. In the Security Council, Switzerland reminded Israel to implement the measures ordered by the International Court of Justice on February 26, 2024. Among other things, the Court requires Israel to ensure the provision of urgently needed basic services to the Palestinian population and to facilitate the rapid and unhindered humanitarian aid. Against this background, Switzerland called on all parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, including the prohibition of the use of starvation as a method of warfare, and to protect the civilian population.

"We, the members of this Council, must use our influence and take measures to prevent famine and save lives," emphasized Switzerland's representative to the Security Council. An immediate humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed. In Resolution 2417 of 2018, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the starvation of civilians and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access as a tactic of war. Switzerland stated in the Council that it remains ready to work with all members of the Council to find a political solution that ends the suffering of the people and restores the prospect of peace.

Statement by Switzerland on the food security situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 27.02.2024

23.02.2024 – "Our goal is peace"

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a high-level debate at the UN Security Council centred on the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine. The head of the FDFA reminded the Council of the pursuit of peace as a declared founding goal of the United Nations in the UN Charter and emphasised that this goal is the raison d'être of the organisation. "We bear responsibility for this ideal, which was adopted here three quarters of a century ago," emphasised the head of the FDFA in New York.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis in the Security Council
"We are working tirelessly to try and set in motion a new dynamic, a pragmatic and inclusive process," emphasised the head of the FDFA in the Security Council. © FDFA

Since the beginning of the war, the Security Council has been unable to fulfil its responsibility to ensure peace and security for Ukraine and its people. Thousands of people have lost their lives, millions have been displaced and the human suffering is immense. Against this backdrop, Mr Cassis asked what the international community can do to ensure that the principles of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law are upheld in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world. "We must not fall into pessimism," explained Federal Councillor Cassis.

The path to peace in Ukraine must be travelled together. And the first step on this path is the organisation of the first international conference in Switzerland on peace in Ukraine. "We are working tirelessly to try and set in motion a new dynamic, a pragmatic and inclusive process," emphasised the head of the FDFA in the Security Council. Federal Councillor Cassis has organised various outreach activities at different levels over the past month to ensure that such a process can be successfully launched. "Switzerland, with its tradition of good offices, is convinced that we must listen to everyone," emphasised Ignazio Cassis. The prerequisite for a successful peace process is broad representation that includes all regions of the world.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the war in Ukraine, UN Security Council, 23.02.2024 (fr)

20.02.2024 – Middle East: Resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire fails in the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today voted on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East. The draft resolution, which was presented by Algeria, failed due to a veto by the USA. The catastrophic humanitarian situation for over 2 million people in Gaza continues to worsen: hunger is rampant, the health sector is in ruins and a large part of the population has already been internally displaced several times. There is a lack of everything, especially humanitarian access. In addition, Israel's impending military ground offensive in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip poses a serious threat to over 1 million people. Numerous hostages are being held and their medical care is not guaranteed.

To counter these developments, in addition to an immediate ceasefire, the resolution would have called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, full compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the civilian population in need and rejected any forced displacement of the Palestinian population. By adopting the resolution, the Security Council would also have recalled the precautionary measures taken by the International Court of Justice on January 26, 2024 to prevent genocide in the Middle East and reiterated its call for a two-state solution. Finally, the failed draft resolution also expressed grave concern about the threat of further escalation in the wider region as a result of the violence in Gaza.

Switzerland supported the resolution and regretted the outcome of the vote. In its explanation of vote, it reiterated its position on the current escalation in the Middle East and emphasized that the call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza is in line with the Security Council's collective commitment to respect and ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law in all circumstances. "We cannot allow hundreds of thousands of besieged civilians to be left to starvation and epidemics without adequate security guarantees, whether for the provision of humanitarian assistance or for their own protection," Switzerland said.

During the negotiations on the draft resolution, Switzerland played a key role in ensuring that the demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, compliance with international law and the protection of the civilian population were enshrined in the text of the resolution. Switzerland calls on the parties to the conflict to immediately implement the UN Security Council resolutions adopted in December and November 2023 on the situation on the ground. The immediate release of the hostages, a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza and full compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights by all parties are urgent. On this basis, work must be done towards a political dialog with the goal of a two-state solution.

Swiss Statement after the vote, United Nations Security Council, 20.02.2024

Situation in the Middle East

13.02.2024 – Prevention is key to mitigating climate risks in conflict zones

The UN Security Council held an open debate, chaired by Guyana, on the link between climate change, food insecurity and armed conflict. "Addressing climate security" is one of the four thematic priorities defined by the Federal Council for Switzerland's membership of the Security Council. Switzerland, represented by Ambassador Alexandra Baumann, Head of the FDFA's Prosperity and Sustainability Division (PSD), emphasized the need for prevention in New York. "Conflict is the main cause of hunger, and climate change further destabilizes the situation," she emphasized. Acute food insecurity in the world has increased massively over the past decade. Despite the targets set by the 2030 Agenda, almost 800 million people still face chronic hunger.

Alexandra Baumann speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council.
Ambassador Alexandra Baumann represented Switzerland at the open debate on climate change, conflict and food security at the UN Security Council. © FDFA / UN Photo

At the Security Council, Switzerland presented solutions aimed in particular at preventing climate-related risks and reducing tensions. In recent years, early warning systems have been developed for food insecurity, conflicts and extreme climatic events. At present, these systems mostly operate separately. It is essential that they be linked to avoid blind spots in conflict prevention. The resulting data must then be used for targeted, preventive action. In this way, for example, the creation of sustainable food systems can be ensured in the long term. Switzerland is also committed to this at the bilateral level within the framework of its international cooperation.

For this to succeed, coordinated cooperation between environmental, peace and humanitarian actors is necessary. In addition to the UN Security Council, these include the entire UN system, regional organizations such as the African Union, local institutions, as well as the scientific community and the private sector. Switzerland actively promotes dialogue between these actors and recently organized dialogues in Addis Ababa on the impact of climate change and conflict on food security.

The UN Security Council must consider the impact of climate change on peace and security.
Alexandra Baumann, Head of the Prosperity and Sustainability Division at the FDFA

The result of the vicious circle of conflict, food insecurity and the consequences of climate change is the same in many conflict zones around the world: more instability, more insecurity and more suffering among civilians. "In order to find context-specific responses, the Council must take into account the impact of climate change on peace and security," emphasized Alexandra Baumann in New York. Switzerland will continue to address the security and peace policy implications of climate change in the Security Council, identify possible solutions and contribute to building consensus among Council members.

Statement by Switzerland on climate change and food security, UN Security Council, 13.02.2024

News article: Why the consequences of climate change can exacerbate conflicts

09.02.2024 – UN Security Council visits Colombia to support peace process

The delegations of the 15 member states of the UN Security Council and Colombian President Gustavo Petro pose for a group photo.
Meeting between members of the UN Security Council and Colombian President Gustavo Petro at the Casa de Narino on 8 February 2024 in Bogotá. © UN mission in Colombia

From February 7 to 11, Switzerland, together with Guyana and the United Kingdom, will leada visit to Colombia by the 15 members of the UN Security Council. The aim of the Council is to gain an insight into the situation in the country, the implementation of the 2016 agreement and to support the establishment of a lasting peace. Switzerland remains strongly committed to the peace process in Colombia.

Article: UN Security Council visits Colombia to support peace process

05.02.2024 – Risk of further regional escalation: Switzerland calls for restraint

At an emergency meeting requested by Russia, the UN Security Council discussed the air strikes carried out by the United States in Syria and Iraq following the attack on a US base in Jordan. At the Council, Switzerland expressed its concern about the regional escalation, which has steadily increased since the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7 and the war in Gaza, and has reached a dangerous point in the last ten days. "There is a real threat to international peace and security in the region," emphasized Switzerland's deputy ambassador to the UN, Adrian Hauri, in New York.

Switzerland called on the parties to the conflict and all actors with influence to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid further escalation in the region. "A single miscalculation can have devastating consequences," the Swiss representative told the Council. Switzerland recalled that any military action must be in accordance with international law and called on all parties to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and human rights. Only political solutions can ultimately guarantee peace and security in the region. In particular, a humanitarian ceasefire is needed in Gaza. With regard to Syria, Switzerland stated in the Council that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 calls for a ceasefire at the national level.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Syria and Iraq, UN Security Council, 05.02.2024

31.01.2024 – Middle East: Measures of the International Court of Justice are binding on both parties

The UN Security Council today once again discussed the current situation in the Middle East. Switzerland reiterated its position and called in particular for international humanitarian law to be respected. In view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, a humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed to allow humanitarian access and the release of all hostages. Switzerland underlined its unwavering support for the International Court of Justice and recalled that the precautionary measures of January 26 are binding on both parties. It expects Israel to comply with the Court's order and to take the necessary measures to prevent the commission of acts of genocide and incitement to genocide. This requires immediate and effective measures, including the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.

In New York, Switzerland also expressed its concern about the serious allegations against UNRWA staff suspected of involvement in the terrorist acts of October 7. Switzerland has a policy of zero tolerance towards any support for terrorism and incitement to hatred or violence. Switzerland has taken note of the immediate measures taken by UNRWA against the employees and expects that the internal investigation will fully clarify the allegations.

Finally, Switzerland warned against a regionalization of the conflict and reiterated that respect for international law, a humanitarian ceasefire, access for aid to Gaza and the release of hostages are only the first steps towards a lasting political solution to the conflict, which must be based on a two-state solution.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 31.01.2024

30.01.2024 – Stability and security in Cyprus: UN peacekeeping mission renewed for one year

The UN Security Council today unanimously renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by resolution. UNFICYP has been stationed on the Mediterranean island for 60 years and makes an important contribution to stability on site and in Europe.

In 1964, the UN Security Council deployed the peacekeeping mission following the outbreak of violence between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. This makes it one of the oldest UN peacekeeping missions still in operation. Although a ceasefire was signed between the parties to the conflict, the country has remained divided since Turkish troops invaded the north of the island in 1974. In light of this, UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both parties.

Members of the UN peacekeeping force UNFICYP walk through an alley between dilapidated buildings in the buffer zone.
UNFICYP makes an important contribution to stability and security on Cyprus and in Europe. © Keystone

By adopting the resolution, the UN Security Council also welcomes the appointment of Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar as the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy to Cyprus. This is an important step in the search for common ground with the aim of returning to formal negotiations and revitalising a possible negotiation process. Switzerland supports the envoy and the good offices of the UN Secretary-General.

In the Council, Switzerland voted in favour of renewing the UN peacekeeping mission and considers a political solution acceptable to both sides to be key. It supports a federalist solution based on two zones for both communities with equal political rights in accordance with Security Council resolutions. In order to achieve such a solution, trust and dialogue between the parties must be strengthened. For this reason, Switzerland is involved at bilateral level in the Committee for Missing Persons in Cyprus, which is made up of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots. Switzerland also continues offering itself as a host for talks. For example, the UN has maintained political dialogue at Bürgenstock (2004), Mont Pèlerin (2016) and Crans-Montana (2017).

23.01.2024 – UN Security Council: Federal Councillor Cassis stresses the need for a comprehensive solution

On January 23, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a ministerial debate on the Middle East at the UN Security Council. Under the French Presidency, the aim of the debate was to contribute to concrete progress towards a political solution to the crisis in the Middle East. The Head of the FDFA presented to the Council an analysis of the situation and presented his views on a solution to the conflict and a lasting peace in the region. 

Federal Councillor Cassis yesterday reiterated the Federal Council's position on the Middle East conflict during a high-level debate at the UN Security Council. He condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas. The head of the FDFA also drew attention to the precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza: "Since October 7, there seems to be no limit to the violence in Israel, in Gaza and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis speaks at the UN Security Council.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis at the ministerial Middle East debate in the UN Security Council. © FDFA

In New York, the head of the FDFA also spoke of the UN Security Council's involvement in the Middle East conflict. The Council has recently adopted important resolutions that are very difficult to implement. Only some of the hostages have been released, civilians are the daily victims of the fighting, and international humanitarian law continues to be violated. "We cannot give in to frustration. We must not be discouraged," Ignazio Cassis told the Security Council. He stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to the solution, involving in particular the States of the region. Without a regional political consensus, there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East," said the head of the FDFA. At the diplomatic level, recent years have shown that there is room for political agreement and common interests between Israel and the states of the region. This space must be used to work towards a lasting peace, which requires a two-state solution. "This is the only solution that offers both Israelis and Palestinians the prospect of living in peace and security," Mr. Cassis emphasized.

The head of the FDFA called on the parties to the conflict, the states in the region and the members of the Security Council to act in order to lay the foundations for a lasting cessation of hostilities and a political solution to the crisis. This requires the immediate release of the hostages, a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza, and full respect for international humanitarian law. Switzerland is ready to support these efforts in cooperation with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the states of the region.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 23.01.2024

Situation in the Middle East

12.01.2024 – Emergency meeting on the situation in the Red Sea

Following further attacks by the Yemeni Houthis on merchant ships in the Red Sea in recent days and the subsequent military strikes by the United States and the United Kingdom, the UN Security Council met today for an emergency meeting. In the Security Council, Switzerland emphasised that these recent developments were worrying and increased the risk of a regional escalation.

Two days ago, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling for greater maritime security and strict compliance with rights and freedoms of navigation in accordance with international law. Switzerland supported the resolution because it expresses the Council's concern about the situation in the region and calls on the Houthis to immediately cease their attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Today in New York, Switzerland emphasised its legal assessment of the resolution – just as it did after the vote on 10 January: The right to take military action mentioned in the relevant article of the resolution is limited to intercepting attacks on merchant vessels and warships. This therefore only refers to the protection of a ship under attack and its crew. In this context, any military operation that goes beyond the immediate need to protect vessels and persons would be disproportionate and not covered by the resolution.

Switzerland is concerned about the military strikes carried out by the British-American coalition. The incidents in the Red Sea are already having a negative impact on maritime traffic and international trade. However, the precarious situation of the civilian population in Yemen and the region, which is dependent on vital humanitarian aid by sea, could also be further exacerbated if hostilities continue. In view of this, Switzerland called on all parties and actors in the Red Sea and the surrounding region in the Security Council to exercise caution and restraint and to strictly adhere to international law. This with the aim of avoiding a regional escalation. In the long term, only a lasting peace in Yemen that includes all the actors involved will guarantee security in the Red Sea.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Red Sea, UN Security Council, 12.01.2024

12.01.2024 – Middle East: Switzerland calls for full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions

At an emergency meeting today, the UN Security Council once again discussed the situation in the Middle East, in particular the forced displacement of the Palestinian population. Switzerland expressed its concern about the steady increase in violence and the suffering of the civilian population. In light of the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, it called for the facilitation of humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip and the release of the hostages remaining there. To this end, Switzerland emphasized the need for a lasting humanitarian ceasefire. In the Security Council, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, in particular the sexual violence against women and girls.

In order to alleviate the suffering of civilians, it is essential that the two resolutions on the Middle East adopted by the Security Council in November and December be fully implemented. In particular, the resolutions call for an increase in humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip by ensuring rapid, safe and unhindered access in accordance with international humanitarian law. There is a serious risk of famine, which already affects about half a million people in Gaza.

Switzerland also emphasized in New York that the Geneva Conventions prohibit the forcible transfer of populations and that such transfer can constitute a war crime. It rejects calls for the expulsion of civilians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Gaza, and calls on the leadership of all parties to refrain from provocative statements. Furthermore, all violations of international law committed in Israel and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. To this end, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently conducting an investigation into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, covering both the events of October 7 and the ongoing events in Gaza and the West Bank.

The search for a political solution is urgent. In this context, Switzerland continues to support the two-state solution, so that Gaza can be rebuilt as part of a future Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and within secure and recognized borders.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 12.01.2024

11.01.2024 – UNOWAS: Prevention as a tool for peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel

The work of the UN Regional Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) was the focus of a UN Security Council meeting today. UNOWAS is active in 16 countries where millions of people face multiple and complex challenges that jeopardize security in the region. At the end of January 2023, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNOWAS for another three years, under the leadership of Switzerland and Ghana. Despite some positive trends in the strengthening of democratic governance in some countries, the security situation in much of the region remains fragile and the need for humanitarian assistance is increasing. At today's Council meeting, Switzerland emphasized that prevention is crucial to avoid new conflicts and the escalation of existing ones. 

 Ballot papers with "Oui" and "Non" written on them lie on a wooden table.
UNOWAS supports inclusive elections in West Africa and the Sahel to strengthen democratic governance. © Keystone

In the Council, Switzerland expressed its satisfaction with the improvements in the area of democratic governance. Several elections in the region were largely peaceful last year. Among other things, Switzerland supported the National Peace Committee in Nigeria to reduce violence before and during the elections.

Switzerland also welcomed the fact that UNOWAS will support Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo in organizing elections. In addition, Switzerland emphasized the need to continue promoting and implementing legislation that strengthens the role of women in political processes, thereby contributing to the development and consolidation of political institutions, electoral processes and democratic governance throughout the region.

The security situation for the civilian population in some regions of the Sahel remains a concern due to attacks by armed groups. In New York, Switzerland stated that developments, in particular after the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA from Mali at the end of 2023, must be closely monitored. In this context, it emphasized the need to strengthen the work of UN Member States at the bilateral and multilateral level to mitigate the risk of a serious regional crisis. This should be done, in particular in close cooperation with the African Union and subregional organizations.

Strengthening humanitarian action to prevent and mitigate major humanitarian crises caused by conflict, instability, internal displacement and the consequences of climate change is another important factor for the protection of the populations. Some 26 million people in the Sahel region are currently in need of life-saving humanitarian aid. Against this backdrop, Switzerland emphasized that addressing climate risks into account is key to effective conflict prevention in West Africa and the Sahel. The effects of climate change, such as floods and droughts, have far-reaching consequences for security in the region. In the Council, Switzerland emphasized that the continuous analysis of climate risks and a better understanding of the linkages between climate, peace and security remain important in order to support the affected countries in adapting to the effects of climate change. Switzerland also read out a statement on behalf of several countries to draw attention to the negative impact of climate change on peace and security.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel, UN Security Council, 11.01.2024

Joint Statement on Climate Security, UN Security Council, 11.01.2024

10.01.2024 – UN Security Council calls for more security for ships in the Red Sea

The UN Security Council today adopted a resolution condemning the attacks by Yemen's Houthis on merchant ships in the Red Sea. In the resolution, the Council calls on the Houthis to immediately cease their attacks, which are hampering global trade and jeopardising security in the region. Switzerland supported the resolution.

On 19 November 2023, the Houthis captured the cargo ship "Galaxy Leader" on its way from Turkey to India, took control of the crew and diverted the ship to the Yemeni province of Hodeida. The Security Council resolution adopted today calls for the immediate release of the crew and the ship.

The blue and white cargo ship "Galaxy Leader" anchors on turquoise waters in the Red Sea off the Yemeni coast.
The cargo ship "Galaxy Leader" captured by the Houthis on 19 November 2023 off the Yemeni coast. © Keystone

With the resolution, the Security Council emphasises that the shipping rights and freedoms of merchant ships must be respected in accordance with international law. The Council also calls for caution and restraint in order to avoid further escalation in the Red Sea and the broader region.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 10.01.2024

29.12.2023 – Switzerland emphasises the need for a lasting political solution in the Middle East

At the request of the United Arab Emirates, an emergency meeting was held at the UN Security Council on Friday 29 December to discuss the current situation in the Middle East. The continuation of hostilities in Gaza and the increase in violence in the West Bank are worrying and reinforce the threat of a regional extension of the conflict. These developments compromise the political prospect of implementing a two-state solution, as supported by Switzerland.

In view of the latest developments, Switzerland has once again stressed that respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, the protection of civilians and the release of hostages must remain a priority for the Security Council. Switzerland also stressed the need for a lasting political solution in the Middle East.

On behalf of Switzerland and Brazil, as informal focal points on conflict and hunger within the Security Council, a statement was also made on the acute food insecurity in the Gaza Strip, which affects more than 90% of the population.

Statement by Switzerland to the UN Security Council, 29.12.2023

Joint Statement by Switzerland and Brazil, UN Security Council, 29.12.2023 (PDF, 1 Page, 107.0 kB, English)

22.12.2023 – Middle East: UN Security Council adopts resolution in favor of increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip

In light of the dramatically deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, the UN Security Council today adopted a resolution aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The resolution addresses the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population, deplores all attacks against civilians, including terrorist acts, including those carried out by Hamas since 7 October, and calls for

  • Compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.
  • Rapid and unhindered access to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid on a sufficient scale, including through a UN Humanitarian Mechanism and the opening of various border crossings.
  • The immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.
  • Protection of civilians by both parties to the conflict.
  • The need for a two-state solution.
  • The need to create the conditions for a lasting cessation of hostilities.

Switzerland supported the resolution submitted to the Council by the United Arab Emirates because it contributes to alleviating the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and because it incorporates various aspects of Switzerland's position on the current conflict. These include compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, the release of all hostages, the guarantee of safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza, and the need for a two-state solution.

With a view to facilitating rapid and unhindered humanitarian access, the resolution adopted today underlines the urgent need to consider steps to create the conditions for a durable cessation of hostilities. This is without prejudice to Israel's right to ensure its defense and security, but would facilitate humanitarian access and allow for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. In its statement after the vote, Switzerland welcomed the Council's decision and emphasized that today's resolution must be complementary to international humanitarian law, according to which all parties to the conflict and other states are obliged to allow and facilitate aid to the suffering population.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 22.12.2023

21.12.2023 – Switzerland supports sustainable financing of African Union peace support operations

On 21 December 2023, the UN Security Council voted in favour of sustainable funding for African Union (AU) peace support operations. Switzerland supported the resolution presented by the three African countries on the Security Council, Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique.

The peace operations led by the African Union are essential for managing security challenges on the African continent. Over the past 20 years, AU-led peace operations have provided responses to complex situations, such as illegitimate seizures of power in several countries, monitoring elections or observing ceasefire agreements. This illustrates the key role that regional players can play in meeting the continent's security challenges. AU-led peace operations are generally better rooted locally, have more detailed knowledge of the context, and are more willing to take risks in the face of complex threats.

However, due to limited resources, the AU cannot consistently utilise its strengths to support peace efforts across the continent. In particular, the AU needs stable resources and sustainable funding. On 21 December, the Security Council adopted a resolution to this effect, initiated by Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique. From the outset of the discussions, Switzerland actively supported this resolution, as it ensured predictable, sustainable and flexible UN funding for AU-led peace support operations. 

Impetus under the Swiss presidency

Under Switzerland's presidency, the Security Council had already addressed the issue of funding for African Union-led peace support operations in May 2023. 

Statement by Federal Councillor Viola Amherd at the Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa - UN Security Council, 25 May 2023

In 2018, Switzerland had already co-sponsored a draft Security Council resolution tabled by these three African states, considering the funding of AU peace support operations to be crucial for the credibility of the UN system.  The draft resolution was not adopted in 2018. The Security Council resolution adopted on 21 December is primarily aimed at finding "African solutions to African challenges". This focus on African solutions promotes sustainable responses to the continent's challenges. This commitment to sustainable solutions is why Switzerland has long supported the regional anchoring of peace operations, not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world, including Europe through the OSCE. The resolution offers the AU and the UN a clear framework for future AU-led peace mission deployments under Security Council mandates. This framework will facilitate financial planning for such missions. The Security Council and the UN General Assembly committee responsible for financial matters will in future still be required to approve funding on a case-by-case basis. Switzerland recognises and welcomes the progress made by the African Union since 2018 to establish a normative framework for peace support operations.

Respect for international humanitarian law and human rights

The Security Council resolution of 21 December, which was adopted unanimously, highlighted the need for all security forces to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. Compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights is an important condition for UN funding. This is a UN human rights due diligence requirement. "Switzerland was keen to lend its support and play a constructive role in the negotiation process in order to facilitate consensus between the various positions," said Pascale Baeriswyl. She also called on all parties to do their utmost to contribute to the implementation of this framework resolution. "In particular, we appeal to everyone's willingness to find compromises for future negotiations on a case-by-case basis. This is a decisive step for the future of African Union-led peace support operations to promote peace and security on the continent", she concluded. 

UN Security Council resolution in favour of sustainable funding for African Union (AU) peace support operations, UN Security Council, 21 December 2023

Swiss statement following the vote, UN Security Council, 21 December 2023

21.12.2023 – UN Security Council extends the mandate of the UN observer force for the Golan Heights

The UN Security Council today unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights – a mountain range on the border between Syria and Israel – for six months. The Security Council first mandated the UNDOF in May 1974, making it one of the longest running UN missions. UNDOF’s deployment dates back to the "Yom Kippur War" between Israel and Syria, which broke out in October 1973 and was fought in part on the Golan Heights. In May of the following year, the two parties to the conflict agreed to a cease-fire and the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Geneva. Since then, UNDOF monitors the demilitarized zone and compliance with the ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

A white UN vehicle passes a checkpoint in a barren, hilly landscape.
UNDOF has been monitoring the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights for almost 50 years. Here is a photo from 1990. © UN Photo

Switzerland supported the resolution in the Security Council because the UNDOF makes an important contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East. Against the background of the escalation of violence in the Middle East following the terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October and the major regional tensions, this mission is all the more important in order to avoid a regionalization of the current conflict.

19.12.2023 – Switzerland's membership of the UN Security Council: a look back and a look ahead

For the UN Security Council, 2023 was a year of multiple crises. Barely any of the world's conflict hotspots failed to make the agenda of its virtually daily meetings, from Haiti and Sudan to Ukraine and the Middle East. Over the past year, Switzerland has focused on the four priorities defined by the Federal Council, which it intends to build on during the second half of its Security Council term in 2024.

Article: Switzerland's membership of the UN Security Council: a look back and a look ahead

08.12.2023 – Resolution in favour of humanitarian ceasefire fails in UN Security Council due to veto

On December 6, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote to the UN Security Council to call for a humanitarian ceasefire due to the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip. In this context, the United Arab Emirates introduced a resolution in the Security Council calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of Israeli and Palestinian civilians by both parties to the conflict, as well as the immediate release of all remaining hostages. Switzerland supported the resolution. However, it failed due to a veto by the United States. During the negotiations, Switzerland successfully argued for the protection of civilians on both sides and the release of hostages to be included in the text of the resolution.

The resolution would have had a humanitarian focus aimed at improving the dire situation of civilians in the Gaza Strip. After the vote, Switzerland clarified that the humanitarian ceasefire called for in the resolution would have been understood as a temporary humanitarian pause that would not have affected Israel's right to defense and security. The Federal Council discussed the draft resolution at its meeting today.

Switzerland regrets today's decision by the Council and will continue to work for the Security Council to agree on steps that go beyond humanitarian aid. This is essential for survival, but it will not resolve the conflict. A two-state solution negotiated by both sides is the basis for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Statement from Switzerland after the vote

Statement by Switzerland, Briefing on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 08.12.2023

06.12.2023 – Onset of winter in Ukraine: protecting the civilian population is now even more important

The UN Security Council met today to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Russia's military aggression against its neighbor continues unabated. The onset of winter brings an additional hardship to the suffering civilian population. Ongoing Russian attacks on critical infrastructure are exacerbating the precarious humanitarian situation. They are causing power, heating and water outages, which are particularly vital in winter. Humanitarian organisations are working tirelessly to provide relief. The lack of humanitarian access to Ukrainian areas under Russian control remains a concern.

A Ukrainian boy chops wood in the garden.
Many Ukrainians are expecting a harsh winter and have spent months preparing for it by collecting firewood and buying generators. © Keystone

Against this backdrop, Switzerland emphasised in the Security Council the urgent need to step up humanitarian measures on which almost 18 million people depend. These measures should ensure the supply of electricity and heat. Switzerland also reiterated its call for compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of the civilian population. It also emphasised the special protection of medical personnel and facilities. Since February 24 2022, at least 10,000 civilians have lost their lives and more than 18,500 have been injured in Ukraine. The ongoing Russian airstrikes, which do not stop at residential buildings, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities throughout the country, are further increasing these figures. Furthermore, Switzerland stressed in the Council that food security in Ukraine must be strengthened, as food security in many parts of the world also depends on it. In this context, Switzerland reiterated its support for the efforts of the UN and other actors to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine.

President Alain Berset's visit to Kyiv ten days ago to attend an international summit on global food security emphasised Switzerland's continued solidarity with Ukrainian citizens. As part of its humanitarian activities, Switzerland will continue to provide winter aid to the Ukrainian civilian population and will be strongly involved in humanitarian demining in the country.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Ukraine, UN Security Council, 06.12.2023

01.12.2023 – Switzerland regrets the withdrawal of the UN Mission in the Sudan

At the request of the Sudanese government, the UN Security Council today decided to end the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS).

Without the consent and political will of the host state, UN Political Missions are unable to implement their mandate. On 16 November, the government withdrew its consent for UNITAMS in a letter to the Secretary-General. In a statement after the vote, Switzerland expressed regret for the termination of the UN mission in Sudan. UNITAMS' mandate was originally intended to support the country's transition, which was abruptly interrupted by the outbreak of conflict last April. Various UN agencies will remain in the country. In the Council, Switzerland voiced its support for the recently appointed UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and the regional peace efforts. Switzerland also appealed to all parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular to protect the civilian population.

Women and men board a packed lorry in Khartoum.
Residents of the Sudanese capital Khartoum leave their homes during a lull in the fighting. © Keystone

The current conflict is taking a massive toll on the civilian population. The humanitarian situation in the country is catastrophic. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 5 million people have been displaced within Sudan since the outbreak of violence and over one million have fled to neighbouring countries to escape the consequences of the conflict. The number of displaced people is one of the highest in the world. The conflict also further exacerbates the dramatic humanitarian situation. Figures from the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirm that almost 25 million people – half of Sudan's population – are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. There is a lack of food, drinking water, hygiene facilities, shelter, medical care and protection. To respond to the acute humanitarian needs in Sudan and the affected neighbouring countries, Switzerland has provided around CHF 60 million so far this year.

Against the current backdrop of ongoing violence, displacement and humanitarian need, it is important to Switzerland that the Security Council continues to fulfil its responsibility for peace and security and remains informed about the situation in Sudan. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland therefore advocated for a continued reporting to the Council on the situation in the country and the role of the UN Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan. The latter is to play an important role in supporting regional peace efforts.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, 01.12.2023

29.11.2023 – Middle East: Switzerland welcomes the release of hostages in the UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today discussed the still urgent situation in the Middle East in the presence of various ministers. Ambassador Thomas Gürber, Head of the FDFA's UN Division, represented Switzerland. At the beginning of the debate, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the Security Council that the trend of the increasingly deteriorating situation in the Middle East must be reversed.

Ambassador Thomas Gürber speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
Ambassador Thomas Gürber reiterated Switzerland's position on the current conflict in the Middle East at the UN Security Council. © UN Photo

Thomas Gürber referred to the Security Council resolution on the protection of children adopted on 15 November. It represents an important first step by the Council in the current conflict and calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the protection of the civilian population.

Switzerland welcomes the release of the hostages and thanks the states involved for their mediation efforts as well as the ICRC for its role in implementing the hostages’ release. Ambassador Gürber reiterated that Switzerland is calling for the release of all hostages. For this to succeed, humanitarian pauses are important, as called for by the Council in its resolution. Thomas Gürber emphasised that the humanitarian pauses must be extended for this purpose and to provide humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid is vital, but it is not a sustainable solution to the conflict. Switzerland will continue to work in the Security Council to promote consensus and a political solution to the conflict. The two-state solution, in which the Israeli and Palestinian populations can live side by side in peace, security and dignity, is the only basis for peace and stability in the Middle East.

In addition, Thomas Gürber recalled Switzerland's position on the current conflict in the Council: it strongly condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas since 7 October, recognises Israel's right to ensure its security and defence and calls on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and to allow rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 29.11.2023

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

20.11.2023 – UN Security Council focuses on development cooperation and peacebuilding

On 20 November, the UN Security Council will hold an open debate on the link between development cooperation and peacebuilding.  This link has long been a focus of Switzerland's international cooperation. Switzerland contributes its expertise to the discussions in the Council brings its expertise to the discussions to underline that a state's economic development does not automatically lead to peace. What is needed instead is to address social inequalities and strengthen the resilience of communities. Achieving peaceful coexistence also requires dialogue between different population groups and between citizens and decision-makers. The gains made through this process must be consolidated through political dialogue with local authorities. Furthermore, Switzerland has been seconding peace and development advisers to the UN since 2016. These advisers act as a bridge between the UN's peace and development activities in the field, supporting local actors in the prevention of violent conflict. Under the following link examples show the SDC's substantial contribution to peace and security in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

Article: UN Security Council focuses on development cooperation and peacebuilding

15.11.2023 – UN Security Council adopts resolution focusing on the protection of children in the Middle East

After weeks of wrangling, the UN Security Council today adopted a resolution on the protection of children in the Middle East. The text of the resolution, which was introduced by Malta as chair of the Council's Working Group on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict, calls for the protection of children through temporary humanitarian pauses.

According to the resolution, the purpose of the pauses should include the provision of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, particularly children, the evacuation of sick and injured children from the Gaza Strip and the recovery of missing children. To ensure this, the resolution calls for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for UN humanitarian organizations, their partners and the ICRC during pauses in the fighting.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council also demanded that all parties comply with international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians, in particular children, which is a priority of Swiss foreign policy. The text also calls for the release of all hostages held by Hamas since October 7.

Switzerland supported the resolution because it takes into account the urgent humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The resolution reflects four Swiss priorities: (1) humanitarian pauses for rapid humanitarian access; (2) respect for international humanitarian law; (3) release of hostages; and (4) prevention of the escalation of the conflict. The concise text of the resolution, which is geared to operational needs, deliberately refrains from political contextualization, especially since it proved impossible to reach a consensus on this during the negotiations. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as the depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of children in conflicts is of particular concern to Switzerland. According to international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, civilians, including children, must be protected in conflicts. In its explanation of vote, Switzerland reiterated the position of the Federal Council on the current conflict in the Middle East, in particular its condemnation of terrorist acts by Hamas and its recognition of Israel's right to ensure its defense and security. The so-called "statement after the vote" gives states at the UN the opportunity to present their detailed positions and assessments in addition to the vote.

After four failed attempts to adopt a resolution on the Middle East since October 7, today's resolution is a testament to the Security Council's ability to act and take decisions. At the same time, the resolution sends an important signal to all actors and affected civilians on the ground. The last time the Security Council was able to adopt a resolution on the Middle East was in 2016. Switzerland will continue to advocate in the UN Security Council for measures that go beyond the protection of the civilian population and address the overall situation in the current conflict in the Middle East - namely a resolution that condemns the terrorist acts of Hamas, calls for the release of all hostages, recognizes Israel's right to ensure its security and demands rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

Statement by Switzerland after the vote, UN Security Council, 15.11.2023

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

15.11.2023 – The UN Security Council renews four resolutions

The UN Security Council renewed four resolutions on 14 and 15 November 2023. These include the mandates of the UN peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan (UNISFA), the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the sanctions regime for Yemen. Switzerland supported the renewal of all four resolutions in the Council because they are in line with its priorities for Swiss membership of the Security Council.

MINUSCA in the Central African Republic

While the security situation in certain areas of the Central African Republic has improved, ongoing armed clashes continue to jeopardise the civilian population. MINUSCA is making an important contribution to advancing peace efforts in the country and ensuring better protection for the civilian population. Switzerland is represented on the ground by an SDC cooperation office in Bangui. In cooperation with the government and MINUSCA, it promotes compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights.

UNISFA in the Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan

The resource-rich Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan was the scene of deadly clashes following South Sudan's declaration of independence in 2011, displacing over 100,000 people. UNISFA ensures the protection of the civilian population on the ground and access for humanitarian actors.

ATMIS in Somalia

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) mandated by the UN Security Council, supports the local authorities in maintaining peacekeeping operations. The aim of ATMIS is to enable the Somali security forces to maintain security in the country independently.

Yemen sanctions regime

The UN Security Council's sanctions in relation to the conflict in Yemen are intended to support ongoing political efforts to achieve a ceasefire and peace in the country. The sanctions include asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against sanctioned individuals and entities.

14.11.2023 – UN police forces help protect civilians in conflict zones

Police officers play an important role in UN peacekeeping missions mandated by the UN Security Council. Police officers oftentimes work under very difficult conditions to maintain public order and protect the civilian population in conflict zones. At the UN Security Council's annual open debate on police components in peacekeeping missions, Switzerland emphasised their importance for peace and security and underlined several areas which would allow police components to carry out their work even more effectively.

Eight UN police officers sit on the back of a white pick-up. In the foreground, African children pose for the photo.
UN police officers, part of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), on patrol in a camp for internally displaced persons in Juba, South Sudan. © UN Photo

This includes support for the training of local police forces in the host countries of UN peacekeeping missions. Local authorities must be empowered to ensure the security of their population. Specifically, for example, the capacity of the local police to maintain public order during elections must be strengthened. Elements of the UN police also act as an early warning mechanism. Thanks to their daily interactions with the population, they have an extensive network at their disposal. Against this backdrop, it is crucial that police personnel are able to communicate with the local population and receive context-specific training. Such training can ensure that the information received is used adequately in the mission-planning phase, for example to protect the civilian population. Preparing police commanders for the numerous challenges they face in conflict zones is key to ensuring that such important decisions can be made. Switzerland therefore hosts an annual two-week course for police commanders in UN peacekeeping missions, which is currently being held in Stans, Nidwalden.

Switzerland actively contributes to the activities of the police in the UN and detaches police officers to peace missions, for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan. In addition to their professional expertise, the language skills of Swiss police personnel are also an important asset. As part of its activities at the UN, Switzerland will continue to contribute to the effectiveness of peace missions.

Statement by Switzerland, Open debate on UN police forces, UN Security Council, 14.11.2023

10.11.2023 – Middle East: Humanitarian actors must be able to carry out their work safely and effectively

In light of the situation in the Middle East, the UN Security Council met again today for an emergency meeting. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, provided the Council with first-hand information on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

In accordance with its position, Switzerland condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism in the Council in the strongest terms, called for the unconditional release of all Hamas hostages and recognised Israel's right to ensure its defence and security. Switzerland also reminded the audience that all parties must abide by international humanitarian law.

International humanitarian law regulates the conduct of war and protects the victims of armed conflicts. It is universally applicable. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as a depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of the civilians is a central pillar of Switzerland's foreign policy and a priority for its membership of the UN Security Council. In the Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. It emphasised that the civilian population is in urgent need of aid and protection without water, electricity and essential services. International humanitarian law also requires the protection of medical facilities and humanitarian aid workers. Last Tuesday's incident, in which an ICRC convoy carrying aid supplies to the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza came under fire, highlights the insecure environment in which humanitarian organisations work in Gaza.

In the UN Security Council, Switzerland will continue to actively contribute to the Council taking urgent measures, such as calling for humanitarian pauses or truces, to ensure rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. This should enable the ICRC and other humanitarian actors to mitigate the worsening health crisis in Gaza with their work. At yesterday's international humanitarian conference in Paris, Switzerland confirmed that it is earmarking additional funds totalling CHF 90 million for emergency humanitarian aid in the entire region.

Swiss statement on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 10.11.2023

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

06.11.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in Gaza

At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza and the fact that hospitals, UN buildings and other civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip have been hit. It emphasised that the obligations under international humanitarian law are clear: civilians and civilian objects must be protected, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, Switzerland reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of the acts of terrorism and rocket fire by Hamas against the Israeli population in accordance with its position. It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas in Gaza. Switzerland recognises Israel's right to ensure its defense and security and recalls that all parties are obliged to comply with international humanitarian law. In light of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, it called for the rapid and unhindered delivery of basic goods and services to all civilians in need.

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

02.11.2023 – Bosnia and Herzegovina: Unanimous extension for EUFOR ALTHEA

On 2 November 2023, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution to authorise the EU mission EUFOR ALTHEA for another year. The core task of the mission is to support the authorities in maintaining a secure environment in the country. This year's negotiations took place under Switzerland's leadership. In this role, it facilitated dialogue between all parties. Switzerland welcomes the unanimous extension of the authorisation as a strong signal in support of stability and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A Swiss Armed Forces member observes a valley in Bosnia and Herzegovina with binoculars.
Since 2004, Swiss Armed Forces personnel have been contributing to peacekeeping within EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. © DDPS

Through its presence, EUFOR ALTHEA makes an important contribution to peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina and helps stabilise the Western Balkans region. In addition to maintaining a secure environment, the mission's mandate includes the implementation of and compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement and working with the Bosnian authorities to achieve these goals. In line with its long-standing commitment to peacebuilding, Switzerland will continue to support the mission with experts.

The security situation in the country has remained fragile since the 1992-1995 war. Since 2004, up to 20 Swiss Armed Forces personnel have been taking part in the EUFOR ALTHEA mission in the Balkan state. They are stationed at known and potential conflict sites and are in contact with the local population and the authorities. This gives them access to information that EUFOR uses to assess the security situation in the country.

Within its international cooperation, Switzerland supports Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of advancing reforms and creating new perspectives for the population. In the Security Council, Switzerland assured Bosnia and Herzegovina of its continued support on the path to a united and peaceful future.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Security Council, 02.11.2023

31.10.2023 – UN Security Council renews four peacekeeping missions

The UN Security Council yesterday and today adopted four resolutions renewing UN peacekeeping missions. These are the UN missions in Colombia, Libya, Western Sahara and Somalia. Switzerland supported all four resolutions in the Council.

View into the hall of the UN Security Council.
The UN Security Council renewed the UN missions in Colombia, Libya, Western Sahara and Somalia at the end of October 2023. © FDFA

UNVMC in Colombia

The UN Monitoring Mission in Colombia (UNVMC) is mandated to monitor and verify the peace agreement between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government. As part of its long-standing peace policy in Colombia, Switzerland has assumed an official mandate as guarantor state for the peace negotiations at the request of the Colombian government and the rebel group EMC FARC-EP (Estado Mayor Central de las FARC-EP).

UNSMIL in Libya

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been active in the country since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi's authoritarian regime in 2011. UNSMIL's tasks include supporting the Libyan government in establishing the rule of law and organising democratic elections.

MINURSO in Western Sahara

The UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) monitors the ceasefire between the Moroccan government and the Polisario independence movement. MINURSO also supports the reduction of the threat posed by mines. Members of the Swiss Armed Forces are active in Western Sahara in the framework of the United Nations Mine Action Service in humanitarian demining.

UNSOM in Somalia

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) supports the Somali government in securing peace and establishing the rule of law. UNSOM also helps the government to establish mechanisms for strengthening human rights and to involve women in political processes. In addition, the mission monitors human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law in Somalia and assists in their investigation.

30.10.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in the Middle East

Against the background of the intensification of hostilities last weekend, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today. Switzerland stressed that calling on all parties to protect the civilian population is and must remain a central task of the UN Security Council. Civilians must be protected in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Switzerland strongly condemns the acts of terrorism and the taking of hostages by Hamas, demands the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages and expresses its solidarity with the Israeli population. Three weeks after the start of hostilities, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The population lacks basic necessities such as water and electricity. Against this background, Switzerland calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.

View into the hall of the UN Security Council.
Against the background of the intensification of hostilities last weekend, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting today. © FDFA

International humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, is universal. It provides the legal framework for the protection of civilians in conflict. Switzerland recognizes Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security. It recalls that international humanitarian law takes into account legitimate needs such as security and military necessity and must therefore be respected without exception. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.

In the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, Switzerland has in recent weeks called for measures such as humanitarian pauses or a humanitarian ceasefire. It once again called on the Security Council to work together to end the violence. Four resolutions on the Middle East have failed in the Council in the last two weeks. Switzerland will continue to work actively for joint action by the Security Council and for a peaceful solution.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 30.10.2023

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

25.10.2023 – Again no agreement on the resolution on the situation in the Middle East

On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft US resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The adoption of the resolution failed due to a veto by Russia and China. Switzerland supported the resolution because it would have represented a step by the Security Council to protect civilians in the Middle East and emphasized humanitarian pauses as a measure for humanitarian access. Switzerland was actively involved in the negotiations leading up to the vote to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian pauses were enshrined in the text of the resolution.

The Council also voted on a Russian draft resolution that failed to secure a majority. Switzerland abstained. The Russian proposal called for a humanitarian ceasefire, which Switzerland supported in principle, but in the text of the resolution, which had not been discussed among Council members beforehand, contained elements that did not correspond to the Swiss position and assessments.

The UN Security Council meets in New York.
On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East. © UN Photo

The day before, during an open debate in the UN Security Council, Switzerland once again condemned the acts of terror, the indiscriminate firing of rockets against the Israeli population and the taking of hostages by Hamas. It also underlined Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security and called on all parties to respect international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to take measures to de-escalate. Switzerland also called on all actors to remove obstacles to the swift, safe and unhindered delivery of aid to Gaza.

The protection of civilians is a top priority for Switzerland as the Depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and a priority for its membership in the Security Council. "Civilians in Israel and in Gaza must be protected at all costs. We are committed to a Security Council that makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority, especially in urgent cases," said Swiss Ambassador Maya Tissafi, Head of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division and Head of the Middle East Task Force, in New York.

In her remarks, Switzerland underscored its commitment since last week for the Council to adopt a resolution that would allow forhumanitarian pauses and rapid, safe and unhindered access for aid to Gaza. Last week, two resolutions failed due to a lack of votes and a US veto.

Switzerland remains convinced that humanitarian pauses are urgently needed to provide the civilian population with essential goods and to allow humanitarian organisations access to the Gaza Strip in accordance with international humanitarian law. To achieve this, the Security Council must find a solution. Switzerland continues to advocate for this.

Switzerland calls on the UN Security Council to step up its efforts to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians.Against the background of the current escalation of the conflict, urgent humanitarian measures are important. The goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution must not be lost sight of.

Statement after the vote: Situation in the Middle East, 25.10.2023 

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 24.10.2023

Newsticker: Situation in the Middle East

25.10.2023 – Women's rights must be protected so that they can contribute to sustainable peace

The UN Security Council discussed the challenges related to women's participation in peace processes during an open debate on "Women, Peace and Security". Switzerland stated in the Council that it wants to strengthen the voices of women representatives of civil society. Their recommendations should be better taken into account in the Council's debates and decisions. At the debate, Switzerland therefore reiterated important recommendations from women in civil society, whom it had invited as briefers during its presidency in May. Women all over the world must have the right to the freedom to participate fully in political processes. For sustainable peace, women must be able to participate equally in peace negotiations and peacebuilding. For this to succeed, it is imperative that women and girls are protected from violence and human rights violations. In the Council, Switzerland called on all states to prevent violations of women's rights, including those in the digital space. All people share the same human rights, regardless of whether they belong to a national, ethical, religious or linguistic minority.

For years, Switzerland has been committed to "Women, Peace and Security" as part of the National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The Peace and Human Rights Division of the FDFA (PHRD) is committed to the equal participation of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in several countries. This includes, for example, the establishment of a national network of women mediators and peace activists in Lebanon. Through the civil society initiative "Women's Peace Tables" (WPT), women in Colombia, Nepal and the Philippines are supported in participating in the official peace processes in their countries.

The SDC also supports the "Mujeres Resilientes" (Resilient Women) programme in El Salvador, for example, as part of its international cooperation. In the video, Camille Flückiger, who works in the Cooperation Office in Managua (Nicaragua), explains how Switzerland empowers women on the ground to tackle local conflicts and thus contribute to peace.

23.10.2023 – Kosovo: Switzerland calls on both parties to return to dialogue

The situation in Kosovo was the focus of a UN Security Council meeting today, attended by Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. Tensions and insecurity in Kosovo have increased since the last Council meeting. A Kosovar police officer was killed and several people were injured in an attack on the Kosovar police this September. De-escalation is therefore necessary in view of a serious return to the normalisation process.

In view of this, Switzerland condemned the recent violence in Kosovo in the Security Council and called on all parties to cooperate. In order to implement political solutions, inflammatory rhetoric or the increased stationing of troops near the border should be avoided. Switzerland called on the parties to engage in the EU-led dialogue and to implement their obligations under the agreement to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

A male and a female soldier of the Swiss Armed Forces in KFOR discuss next to a white operational vehicle in Kosovo.
The Swiss Armed Forces have been participating in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) with SWISSCOY since 1999. The Liaison and Monitoring Teams serve KFOR as an early warning system for potential changes in the situation. © DDPS

Switzerland maintains close relations with Kosovo for more than thirty years and is home to a large diaspora. Switzerland actively supports the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and contributes to building trust. A central pillar in the reconciliation process is coming to terms with the past. Among other things, Switzerland actively supports both states in the search for and identification of missing persons. As part of its international cooperation, Switzerland promotes inclusive and democratic governance in Kosovo and creates decent jobs. In this way, it contributes to future prospects for the whole of society.

In addition, the Swiss contingent in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) is the largest Swiss contingent in a peace mission, with up to 195 members of the armed forces. KFOR has its origins in a UN Security Council resolution from 1999. KFOR pursues the goal of ensuring the freedom of movement of the population and providing a stable environment. Swiss Armed Forces personnel are making a concrete contribution on the ground so that KFOR can achieve this goal. At today's meeting of the Security Council, Switzerland underlined its support for KFOR as a guarantor of security.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Kosovo

18.10.2023 – No agreement on resolution on humanitarian situation in the Middle East in the UN Security Council

Civilians in Israel and Gaza are the first victims of the renewed outbreak of the conflict in the Middle East. Thousands of civilians in Israel and Gaza, including hundreds of children, have already lost their lives. Against this backdrop, the UN Security Council voted on 18 October 2023 on a resolution introduced by Brazil condemning Hamas attacks and calling on the parties to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Switzerland supported the resolution. Due to a US veto, the adoption of the resolution failed. The draft resolution introduced by Brazil aimed to achieve consensus in the Security Council and contained important elements from Switzerland's point of view. For this reason, Switzerland regrets that this important resolution was not adopted today.

On Monday evening, a resolution text submitted by Russia had failed due to a lack of majority. This text did not contain a clear reference to international humanitarian law – one of Switzerland's priorities in the Security Council. Switzerland abstained from the vote.

Switzerland continues to advocate for solutions in the Security Council so that the Council fulfils its responsibility to protect the civilian population in the Middle East. However, it also remains active outside the Security Council at multilateral and bilateral level to improve the humanitarian situation in the Middle East.

Emergency meeting: Explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza

Immediately after the vote on the resolution, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. According to the UN, hundreds of people were killed and many injured. Switzerland recalls that hospitals and civilians must always be protected under international humanitarian law. A thorough investigation must be carried out.

Switzerland advocates in the Security Council for improvement of the situation in the Middle East

In recent days, Switzerland has taken a position on the escalating situation in the Middle East in various closed sessions of the UN Security Council. Last Friday, it once again condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism and recognised Israel's legitimate desire for national defence and security. It called on both parties to respect international law and underlined the need for humanitarian and medical aid to be delivered quickly and unhindered. In the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated these two objectives: on the one hand, the condemnation of terrorist acts and the protection of the civilian population, and on the other, respect for international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights.

Switzerland remains convinced that a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means. This must be based on a two-state solution negotiated by both sides in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Situation in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory

12.10.2023 – The UN Security Council focuses on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations

Six days after it travelled to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) for the annual meeting with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the Security Council held a meeting on close cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. "Strategic partnership and regular exchanges between the UN and the AU are necessary and essential for efficient and effective multilateralism", said Adrian Hauri in New York on behalf of Switzerland.

The United Nations and regional organisations such as the AU bring different strengths and perspectives, as well as unique approaches to issues of common concern. At their annual meeting, members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council expressed concern about the evolving security situation on the African continent, and the myriad threats to peace, security and stability. In Addis Ababa, Switzerland joined other countries in expressing its views on the current situation in the Sahel region.

In New York, Switzerland gave assurances that it would continue its long-standing support for the African peace and security architecture. "It is our intention to further promote exchanges and mutual understanding between the UN and the AU", said Adrian Hauri.

The African Union Peace and Security Council will travel to New York in October 2024. This meeting will therefore take place under the forthcoming Swiss Presidency of the Security Council.

08.10.2023 – Meeting on the Middle East: Switzerland calls for respect for international law

The Security Council met today for closed consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Switzerland condemned the shocking attacks, including acts of terror and rocket fire by Hamas against Israel. It called for the immediate release of those taken hostage who are currently being held in Gaza. It also deplored all civilian casualties and called on all parties to protect the civilian population and to respect the obligations of international humanitarian law. Switzerland underlined that de-escalation is the priority. It called on those responsible to do everything possible to bring about a ceasefire and avoid a regional escalation. It made this call also to those States that can exert influence on the parties involved.

07.10.2023 – Emergency meeting on the escalation of violence in Israel

Against the background of the escalation of violence in Israel, the UN Security Council will meet for an emergency meeting on 8 October 2023. Switzerland supports that the Council swiftly addresses the current situation in the Middle East. It condemns today's rocket fire by Hamas and the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Civilians must be protected and international law must be respected at all times. Switzerland calls for an immediate end to the violence in order to avoid further escalation.

Statement by Switzerland

02.10.2023 – Security crisis in Haiti: UN Security Council authorises international police mission

At its meeting today, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of police forces by third countries to Haiti. Haiti is facing a worsening security crisis caused by rampant gang violence. Between January and June 2023 alone, gang members committed over 2,000 homicides. Sexual violence and kidnappings have taken on epidemic proportions. The Haitian national police do not have sufficient resources to contain the escalating violence. Moreover, the humanitarian situation is alarming: according to the FAO, around five million people, almost half of Haiti's population, are facing food insecurity. The threat of famine is looming. Severe flooding caused by torrential rains and an earthquake in June exacerbated the situation. 

Two gang members stand armed with a revolver and a rifle in a narrow alley in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
Two gang members in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Driven by massive gang violence, Haiti is facing a precarious security crisis. The UN Security Council is responding by sending police forces from third countries. © Keystone

With its decision of 2 October 2023, the UN Security Council responded to a request from the Haitian government. The UN secretary-general recently issued a report calling on the Security Council to adopt various measures to improve security in Haiti. A key recommendation includes the establishment of a multinational police support mission, which Kenya has agreed to lead. During the negotiations on the resolution, Switzerland advocated in particular for respect for international law and human rights to be guaranteed and for measures to be taken to prevent sexual abuse, and for a monitoring mechanism to be set up in the mission.

On 6 September 2023, the Federal Council gave its preliminary approval for the authorisation of a security support mission for Haiti. It had issued guidelines for the negotiations in New York. In exceptional cases and under certain conditions, the mission should also be able to use force to fulfil its mandate of supporting the local police in restoring public order and security. Based on the modalities agreed between the Federal Council and the foreign policy committees of the National Council and the Council of States to involve Parliament during Switzerland's term on the Security Council, the chairs of the foreign affairs committees were consulted on this matter in accordance with Art. 152 para. 4 of the Parliament Act.

Statement of Switzerland

29.09.2023 – UN Security Council to combat human trafficking off the coast of Libya

The UN Security Council today decided to renew the resolution on combating migrant smuggling and human trafficking off the coast of Libya. UN member states and regional organisations active there will thus be authorised to inspect and seize vessels in the high seas if they have reasonable suspicion that they are being used for migrant smuggling or human trafficking from Libya towards Europe. In the Council, Switzerland supported the annual renewal of the resolution, which was first introduced in 2015, because it is an important instrument for combating human trafficking and protecting human lives.

African men and women sit tightly packed in a rubber dinghy at sea.
With its decision on 28 September, the UN Security Council strengthens the fight against illegal migration from Libya across the Mediterranean. © Keystone

Libya is a destination and transit country for migrants from all over Africa. The conflict in Sudan, which broke out in April 2023, is expected to exacerbate the situation. The number of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya is constantly increasing. According to a report by UN Secretary-General Guterres, almost 8500 people, including women and children, were intercepted and returned to Libya in the first half of 2023. Around 750 people drowned in the sea and around 950 were reported missing.

21.09.2023 – Emergency meeting on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

In light of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting. Switzerland is deeply concerned by the military operations launched by Azerbaijan earlier this week. In the Council, Switzerland stressed the importance of humanitarian access and is ready with its good offices to contribute to dialogue and sustainable peace, if Armenia and Azerbaijan agree.

20.09.2023 – President Berset represents Switzerland at Ukraine debate

President Berset took part in a debate on Ukraine in the Security Council. The debate took place under the Albanian chairmanship during the opening week of the UN General Assembly and in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj. The Swiss President underlined the central importance of the UN Charter for peace and security in the world. However, the number of conflicts is increasing and with it the suffering of the civilian population. Alain Berset condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. It is a striking example of a breach of the UN Charter principles. The President of the Swiss Confederation called on Russia to cease all hostilities and immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, speaks at the UN Security Council.
At the UN Security Council, President Alain Berset underlined the importance of multilateralism for sustainable peace. © FDFA

The consequences of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine are being felt around the world. Food security is in jeopardy, the energy sector is affected and nuclear risks are increasing. That is why strong multilateralism and mutual trust are more important than ever to achieve peace in Ukraine.

The task of rebuilding Ukraine in accordance with the Lugano Principles is immense. Switzerland shows solidarity with the Ukrainian people in many ways. Among other things, it supports humanitarian demining with expertise and material supplies, and plans to further expand this commitment. The President also called for a return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Statement by President Alain Berset at the UN Security Council, 20.09.2023

20.09.2023 – The cohesion of non-permanent members is important for an effective Security Council

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis represented Switzerland at a joint press stakeout of the ten elected non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (E10). UN Security Council news overview. The E10 make up two thirds of the Security Council. As a Security Council decision – on a resolution, for example – requires nine affirmative votes, the E10 are key to the Security Council being able to carry out its task of maintaining peace and security in the world. 

The ten elected members of the Security Council. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis represented Switzerland.
The ten elected members of the Security Council. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis represented Switzerland. © FDFA
An efficient, transparent and effective Security Council is more important than ever in today's world.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

In their joint press stakeout, the E10 underlined their cohesion and commitment to multilateralism: "We will continue to play a constructive role with the aim of building bridges and finding meaningful compromises on all the issues the Security Council deals with. We have seen the significant peacekeeping measures that the Security Council can take when it is united." During meetings held last August on Lake Geneva, the E10 deepened their cooperation. "An efficient, transparent and effective Security Council is more important than ever in today's world. I am all the more pleased about the cohesion of the E10 who are pursuing this goal together," said Cassis following the event in New York.

Press stakeout

19.09.2023 – First delivery of humanitarian goods to Syria via Bab-al-Hawa since July

Nearly twenty trucks loaded with humanitarian goods crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at Bab-al-Hawa on 19 September for the first time since last July. Switzerland welcomes the fact that humanitarian aid to north-western Syria via Bab-al-Hawa is continued. Over four million people rely on these vital supplies.

The renewal of the Cross-Border Humanitarian Mechanism through Bab-al-Hawa failed on 11 July 2023 due to a UN Security Council veto by Russia. The humanitarian situation across Syria remains precarious and it is important that UN agencies have humanitarian access to all regions of Syria. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland continues to advocate for the implementation of the agreement on the continued use of the Bab-al-Hawa border crossing between the UN and the Syrian government.

14.09.2023 – Partnerships with the private sector to make humanitarian aid more effective

More than 100 armed conflicts around the world characterise the current era. The civilian population suffers the most. The number of displaced people has more than doubled in the last ten years. The number of people in need has more than quintupled. While needs are increasing, funding for humanitarian aid, which is cruelly lacking, is decreasing. Today, under the Presidency of Albania, the UN Security Council discussed ways of addressing this challenge. Indeed, humanitarian needs are growing, due to the negative effects of climate change, weak governance and armed conflicts, as well as the consequences of Covid-19. On the other hand, every conflict that is settled peacefully helps to reduce humanitarian needs. The UN Security Council and increased cooperation with the private sector play important roles in this regard.

An African man sits behind a computer reading a newspaper online.
Humanitarian needs can be reduced in cooperation with the local private sector. A prerequisite for this is a stable internet so that those affected in crisis regions can obtain information. © Keystone

At the Security Council, Switzerland stressed that the international community must anticipate and invest to better identify conflict risks and provide humanitarian aid. New technologies can support this. "They make early warning systems more efficient. Furthermore, the importance of a stable and secure internet connection should not be underestimated. This enables people to get information and bring the necessary aid quickly to those in need," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN, in New York. This is why it is also crucial to strengthen partnerships between states and private actors in the humanitarian field, as their potential has not yet been fully exploited.

Switzerland supports various projects in this area as part of its international cooperation. These include, for example, cash payment programs for victims of natural events or disasters. In cooperation with local private financial institutions, they receive cash to buy urgently needed goods. These are purchased locally, enabling local shop owners or farmers to continue their business despite the difficult circumstances. In this way, Switzerland also contributes to curbing the displacement of affected people.

The expertise and networks of private companies and organisations based in conflict areas can make an important contribution to the humanitarian response of states and international organisations. "However, we must never forget that all measures related to private sector engagement must be based on humanitarian principles and human rights," Ambassador Baeriswyl stressed in the Security Council.

Statement by Switzerland on public-private partnerships, UN Security Council, 14.09.2023

07.09.2023 – Strengthening UN peacekeeping missions for effective and efficient peacebuilding

75 years ago, the UN Security Council sent the first peacekeeping mission, UNTSO, to maintain the ceasefire in the Middle East. Since then, over one million people have served in more than 70 UN peace missions. Millions of civilian lives around the world have been saved as a result. Today, twelve missions are active, and the nature of conflicts has changed radically since 1948. The UN Security Council today exchanged views on how UN peacekeeping missions need to adapt to fulfil their missions in an increasingly complex environment. The Blue Helmets do valuable work in many conflict regions under difficult conditions. Among other things, they monitor ceasefires, provide access for humanitarian actors through their presence and support political stabilisation processes so that sustainable peace can be secured.

World map showing the twelve UN peace missions.
In 2023, the UN is conducting twelve peace missions around the world, with MINUSMA in Mali being withdrawn by the end of 2023. A total of up to 90,000 people are deployed, including 31 Swiss uniformed personnel and up to 20 Swiss police officers. © FDFA

During the Council meeting, Switzerland stressed the need to strengthen partnerships with regional organisations, in particular the African Union (AU). The peace missions led by the AU should also be able to react more flexibly to unforeseen events. In addition, the protection of the civilian population should always be at the centre of a peace mission. "Switzerland is eager to advance the discussion on the necessary reforms of the peace mission," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Swiss UN Ambassador in New York. In addition, Switzerland also stressed the importance of the effectiveness of UN peace missions. Against this backdrop, Switzerland called in the Council for an even stronger coordination of planning, budget and performance evaluation so that UN peace missions can make an effective and efficient contribution to peacebuilding.

Statement by Switzerland on UN peace missions, UN Security Council, 07.09.2023

05.09.2023 – Good working methods are important for the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate

The UN Security Council held an open debate today on improving its working methods. This is an important topic for Switzerland: "Strengthening efficiency" is one of the four thematic priorities the Federal Council identified for its Council membership. During the debate, Switzerland aligned itself to the joint statements of the ten elected Council members (E10) and the ACT Group. The Group advocates for a transparent, effective, efficient and inclusive UN Security Council.

The votes of the E10 are decisive to pass a resolution in the Council. A resolution requires nine votes in favour. In their joint statement, the E10 underlined the importance of adequate working methods for the Security Council to enable it to respond efficiently and transparently to current challenges in an increasingly complex geopolitical environment. To achieve this, the E10 emphasised, among other things, the willingness to compromise, the responsible use of the veto and a systematic inclusion of civil society in discussions. The joint declaration was preceded by a meeting of current and future Council members in Switzerland, where they deepened their cooperation to promote the effectiveness of the Council.

Switzerland coordinates the cross-regional ACT Group in New York, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. ACT's Council Statement underlines the need for the Security Council to act in a manner that is trustworthy to all UN member states and the billions of affected people on whose behalf it acts. "Nothing could be a better signal from the Council than the conscientious implementation of its own commitments." Against this backdrop, ACT underlined greater workload sharing among all Council members, for example through co-leadership on thematic and geographic dossiers, as well as exchanges with conflict-affected countries.

Joint statement by the non-permanent members of the Council on the working methods of the Security Council, UN Security Council, 05.09.2023

31.08.2023 – UN Security Council renews mandate of UN mission in Lebanon

The UN Security Council today renewed the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon UNIFIL for 12 months. UNIFIL was first deployed by the Council in 1978, making it one of the oldest operating UN missions.

UN blue helmets are seen from a barbed wire representing the so-called Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel.
UN peacekeepers on duty at the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel. They are making a concrete contribution to sustainable peace and the protection of civilians in the region. © Keystone

The region along the so-called Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel is marked by recurring armed conflicts. The mission monitors the ceasefire along the Blue Line and contributes to reducing tensions. In this way, it makes a concrete contribution to the promotion of sustainable peace, a priority defined by the Federal Council for the Swiss membership in the Security Council. Switzerland also supported the strengthening of the mandate in the area of renewable energies, which mitigates climate-related risks. Switzerland supported the resolution in the Council.

28.08.2023 – Security Council meeting on the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission from Mali

On 30 June 2023, the UN Security Council decided to withdraw the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA from Mali by the end of the year, at the request of the Malian transition government. Now the Council has met again to discuss the progress made so far as well as the challenges of the withdrawal. The pullout raises the question of how certain important tasks of the mission can be continued as well as how its achievements can be maintained. These include the existing peace agreement and the protection of the civilian population. Since 2012, a security, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis has been steadily intensifying in Mali. Especially in the north and centre of the country, there are almost daily attacks against the civilian population, the Malian security forces or confrontations between armed groups, sometimes with a jihadist background. In June 2015, movements from the north and the Malian government signed a peace agreement in Algiers, whose implementation is being accompanied by MINUSMA, an engagement that is now coming to a close.

Blue helmets of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA stand next to a white armoured vehicle in a barren, sandy landscape in Mali.
With the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA by the end of 2023, Mali's civilian population will become even more vulnerable. © UN Photo

The Council meeting focused on ensuring an orderly withdrawal of MINUSMA and the uncertain future of Mali as of January 2024. Accordingly, Switzerland stressed in its statement that the implementation of the peace agreement and confidence-building measures are central. "Nine years of work, dialogue and efforts towards national reconciliation are at stake – first and foremost for the Malian people, but also for the entire Sahel region," underlined Adrian Hauri, Switzerland's deputy head of mission at the UN in New York.

Switzerland also stressed the importance of MINUSMA's important tasks being adequately continued by the Malian transition government and other regional actors. To this end, in-depth and inclusive talks are necessary so that concrete and implementable proposals for solutions are available by the end of the year. In its role in the Security Council as co-penholder for the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel UNOWAS – which also covers Mali – Switzerland is ready to actively support this process. "We welcome all the measures that have already been taken to cushion the impact of MINUSMA's withdrawal on the civilian population and to better meet humanitarian needs," Hauri said. The challenges are and remain extremely complex so close cooperation of all relevant actors with the UN and MINUSMA is central. On the one hand, to ensure the scheduled withdrawal of the mission and, on the other, to guarantee the security of MINUSMA personnel stationed in Mali until the withdrawal is complete.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Mali, UN Security Council, 28.08.2023

22.08.2023 – Free and fair elections and the inclusion of women are central to Libya's future

The UN Security Council discusses the situation in Libya every two months. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been active in the country since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi's authoritarian regime in 2011. UNSMIL's tasks include supporting the Libyan government in establishing the rule of law and organising democratic elections.

The most recent elections, scheduled for December 2021, have been postponed indefinitely, as  no consensus could be reached between the various Libyan actors on the electoral laws. "It is imperative that the outstanding issues are addressed. In order to create the necessary environment for free and fair elections, the actors involved must come to an agreement in the run-up to the elections," explained Riccarda Chanda, Switzerland's deputy head of mission at the UN in New York. To this end, Switzerland supports UNSMIL, including in its role as co-chair of the Berlin Process working group on international humanitarian law and human rights. The Berlin Process was launched in January 2020 to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Libya.

A young Libyan woman wearing a purple headscarf sits at a wooden table taking notes.
A Libyan student attends a human rights workshop organised by UNSMIL at the University of Tripoli. © UN Photo

According to UN Secretary-General Guterres, the human rights situation in Libya is increasingly deteriorating. Excessive controls and bureaucratic restrictions imposed on civil society by the authorities and security actors are on the rise. "Switzerland supports the Secretary-General's call for these measures to be lifted," underlined Switzerland's representative on the Security Council. Furthermore, Switzerland is concerned about violations of the rights and abuse of women and girls; such abuses must not go unpunished. Addressing the Libyan authorities, Switzerland stressed in the UN Security Council that the participation of women in political processes must be safe and without intimidation. To this end, their freedom of movement and respect for their fundamental rights must also be guaranteed. Switzerland also expressed its concern about the recent violent clashes in Tripoli, in which people lost their lives. It calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights at all times.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Libya, UN Security Council, 22.08.2023

17.08.2023 – First Security Council meeting on human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in six years

Today, the UN Security Council discussed the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in a formal and public briefing. This is the first time since 2017 that a discussion in this format has been possible in the Security Council. The DPRK's nuclear weapons and missile programmes, banned by numerous Security Council resolutions, pose a threat to international peace and security. The grave human rights situation of North Koreans is also linked with this.

Street scene in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK.
Street scene in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. © Keystone

According to a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights established in 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council for the DPRK, systematic and serious human rights violations continue to take place in the country. In the Security Council, Switzerland reminded the DPRK to respect universally applicable human rights. It also stressed that those responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable. In light of the DPRK's authoritarian government, the Security Council must consider all options to ensure that these violations do not go unpunished.

The range of human rights violations in the DPRK is extensive. "Torture, arbitrary detention and the forced removal of political prisoners to camps are just a few examples of serious and systematic violations. We also recall the DPRK's obligation to put an immediate end to all violations," said Adrian Hauri, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland's Mission to the UN in New York and Chargé d'affaires, at the Security Council.

"The grave human rights situation in the DPRK threatens stability and peace in the region and beyond," Hauri said in New York. The Security Council must therefore work for positive and sustainable change for the North Korean people, he said. Furthermore, Switzerland called on the DPRK to engage in dialogue and cooperation with international actors in order to put an end to the grave human rights violations and their humanitarian consequences.

Statement by Switzerland on the human rights situation in the DPRK, UN Security Council, 17.08.2023

03.08.2023 – No sustainable peace on an empty stomach

UN estimates suggest that up to 783 million people in the world were affected by hunger in 2022. This is 122 million more people than before COVID-19. For example, civilians in Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen – to name just a few contexts – are at acute risk of hunger. Russia's decision to suspend the Black Sea Grain Initiative will exacerbate the already precarious food insecurity in many parts of the world. Moreover, climate change has unpredictable and long-term consequences, affecting first the poorest and those already affected by war.

War breeds hunger and hunger breeds war.
Adrian Hauri, Deputy Chief of Switzerland's Mission to the UN in New York

"War breeds hunger and hunger breeds war," Adrian Hauri, Deputy Chief of Switzerland's Mission to the UN in New York and Chargé d'affaires, told the UN Security Council on 3 August. Switzerland had discussed the interaction between armed conflicts, related violations of international law and food security in the Council during its own presidency in May at the high-level debate on the protection of civilians chaired by President Alain Berset. The focus at the time was on civilians' access to essential goods and basic services, such as food, water or medical care.

A Yemeni woman holds orange lentils.
Yemen: The UN classifies Yemen as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Hundreds of thousands are affected by famine as a result of the civil war that has been ongoing since 2015. © Keystone

In adopting a resolution in 2018, the Security Council recognised the need to break the vicious cycle of armed conflict and food insecurity. At today's Council briefing on food security, which was organised by the USA, Switzerland underlined three fields of action to prevent famine in the context of armed conflict and violence:

On the one hand, parties to conflicts must mandatorily comply with international humanitarian law. This means, for example, that they must ensure the protection of civilian infrastructure such as markets or supply chains, refrain from mining farmland, provide the civilian population with access to clean water and guarantee unhindered humanitarian aid to those in need.

On the other hand, the fight against impunity of parties to the conflict who use starvation of the civilian population as a method of war must be pushed forward. This has also a preventive effect. Switzerland demands that those responsible for such crimes have to be held more accountable and that justice must be done for the victims of these inhumane crimes. Hauri also took the opportunity to promote the amendment to the Rome Statute initiated and pushed by Switzerland, according to which starvation can be punished as a war crime.

Moreover, food crises in conflict situations often have a female face. Women and girls are the ones who eat last and too little. At the same time, they also actively seek survival strategies and thus contribute to finding solutions. That is why Switzerland stressed in the Council that measures to improve food security should also take into account the gender perspective.

You can’t build sustainable peace on empty stomachs. "Political solutions to conflict must be part of our global approach to eliminating hunger, ensuring access to sufficient and adequate food for all, and promoting resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems," Hauri stressed in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on Conflicts and Food Security, UN Security Council, 03.08.2023

28.07.2023 – Protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations

The protection of civilians is one of the main responsibilities of UN peacekeeping missions. These missions usually operate in difficult contexts, facing a variety of security challenges. These include, for example, unstable conflict dynamics, serious violations of international law, restricted freedom of movement, disinformation or limited resources. On 28 July, the Security Council discussed with the commanders of the peacekeeping missions in South Sudan (UNMISS), Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) how the missions can address these challenges and improve the protection of civilians on site. "Unfortunately, civilians still represent the vast majority of victims of armed conflict, and their protection is therefore more necessary than ever," emphasised Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council. The protection of civilians is also a priority for Swiss membership in the Security Council.

A Swiss military observer sits in the middle of a crowd of people in a village in the Kashmir region and listens to what they have to say.
A Swiss military observer at the UN mission UNMOGIP in Kashmir talks to the local population to get information on the mood and everyday problems. © DDPS

Switzerland emphasised in the Council that UN peacekeeping missions should be less reactive with regard to the protection of civilians and should instead focus on the prevention of violations against civilians. Moreover, it made clear that this protection must also be guaranteed in transitional phases, such as in the case of the upcoming withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA). "The withdrawal of MINUSMA must under no circumstances lead to a deterioration in the condition of civilians: the Malian government must ensure that the functions previously carried out by the mission in this field are now taken over by itself," Baeriswyl said in New York.

The Swiss Armed Forces are active in peacekeeping missions, as are numerous other countries. Around 280 Swiss troops are deployed. Among other things, the Swiss Armed Forces are supporting the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in West Africa in humanitarian demining. In Kosovo, members of the armed forces are contributing to a safe and stable environment and the freedom of movement of the population. Swiss military observers are deployed in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. They monitor conflict-affected regions and exchange information with the authorities and the population in order to obtain relevant information for assessing the security situation. Switzerland also has a contingent of up to 20 police officers who serve in UN missions. In 2022, it deployed 16 of them. Their task is to support and train local police personnel in post-conflict transition periods. By doing so, Switzerland is contributing to peacekeeping, the respect of international law, and thus the protection of the civilian population.

Statement by Switzerland on the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations, UN Security Council, 28.07.2023

18.07.2023 – On 25th anniversary of Rome Statute, Switzerland chairs UN Security Council meeting on the International Criminal Court

The states parties to the Rome Statute gathered on 17 July to commemorate the 25th anniversary of this founding document. They took part in a ministerial panel discussion on the ICC's strategic vision for the next decade. "With the creation of the ICC, an essential element of the multilateral architecture defending the rule of law came into being. The ICC deserves the unfailing support of the international community today, for the next decade and beyond," Corinne Cicéron Bühler assured the audience.

Corinne Cicéron-Bühler appears on a screen in the UN Security Council room in New York.
The informal 'Arria formula' meeting on 18 July was chaired by Ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler, with the title of state secretary of the FDFA. © FDFA

The 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute is an opportunity to celebrate a major achievement by the international community in the fight against impunity. This text established the ICC as an independent judicial body responsible for investigating the most serious crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. The commemorations raise the ICC's profile and help to strengthen the political support necessary for its mandate. The aim of the meeting was also to encourage those who have not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute and to reflect on its future.

With the creation of the ICC, an essential element of the multilateral architecture defending the rule of law came into being.
Corinne Cicéron Bühler

The following day, UN member states discussed the ICC's contribution to maintaining international peace and security. The informal 'Arria formula' meeting on 18 July was chaired by Ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler, with the title of state secretary of the FDFA, and Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane, permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. It provided a forum for discussing the role and importance of the ICC in the fight against impunity worldwide. The meeting was also an opportunity for states to reaffirm their commitment to the Rome Statute. The president of the Assembly of States Parties, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, the executive director of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, Deborah Ruiz Verduzco, and representatives from academia and civil society presented their visions for the future of the ICC in terms of peace and security.

Swiss Statement, 18.07.2023

Press Release, 19.07.2023

18.07.2023 – UN Security Council discusses the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence for international peace and security

Current developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to transform our societies. The UN Security Council has held a high-level meeting to examine the potential implications of AI for international peace and security. In its statement, Switzerland encourages the safe and responsible use of these new technologies.

The UN Security Council must take account of the impact of new technologies in today's world. For Switzerland, AI can be used, for example, to improve the analysis of conflict situations, aid early warning mechanisms and conflict prevention, and support mediation and peace-building activities. If abused, it could however create additional risks in terms of peace and security. "While it can represent a challenge because of its speed and apparent omniscience, artificial intelligence can and must serve peace," said Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York.

While it can represent a challenge because of its speed and apparent omniscience, artificial intelligence can and must serve peace.
Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York

In view of the technological progress, Switzerland reiterated that existing international law applies to AI and must be respected. In addition, Switzerland proposed three avenues to minimise the risk of abuse of these new technologies. It began by referring to the need for a common framework shared by all stakeholders in the development and application of this technology. Secondly, any AI must be human-centred and guarantee transparency in terms of how it works and the data used. Finally, Switzerland called on developers and users, both governmental and non-governmental, to assume their responsibilities in ensuring that AI promotes equality and inclusion and combats all forms of discrimination.

Cutting-edge research can help pave the way for the use of artificial intelligence for peace, as illustrated by a prototype of an AI-assisted analysis tool developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Switzerland is also committed to finding solutions, in particular through the Swiss Call for Trust & Transparency, an initiative in which the private sector, academia and diplomacy are working together to seek timely and practical solutions to the risks associated with AI.

Swiss Statement, 18.07.2023

17.07.2023 – Switzerland expresses support for Ukraine's recovery process at UN Security Council

At a high-level meeting chaired by the UK foreign secretary and attended by Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, Switzerland reiterated its support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in accordance with international law. It also stressed the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

Switzerland calls for renewal of Black Sea Grain Initiative

At this meeting, Switzerland emphasised the importance of beginning work on recovery-related matters immediately. The recovery process was launched at the first Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC) in Lugano in July 2022, organised jointly by Switzerland and Ukraine. The URC resulted in the adoption of the Lugano Principles, which all participating countries endorsed. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, who hosted last year's URC, stated unequivocally that the Ukrainian people could continue to count on Switzerland's support at the URC 2023 in London on 22 June for their country's recovery.

The extension of the Black Sea Initiative was another key topic of discussion, with Switzerland launching an urgent appeal for global food security. Switzerland deplores Russia's decision on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and hopes that they will be renewed in the near future. Since it was adopted in July 2022, this initiative has enabled more than 32 million tonnes of food to be exported to 45 countries on three continents. Through its good offices, Switzerland welcomes and supports the tireless efforts of the UN secretary-general and Turkey to find an agreement between the parties and advance this important initiative.

A man carries a drone down the slope of a small hill.
Switzerland expressed concern about the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions in Ukraine. © Keystone

UN Charter: starting point for global, just and sustainable peace

Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York also called for the principles of the UN Charter to be upheld as the basis for a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace in Ukraine. "Switzerland is closely following the different peace initiatives for Ukraine, and emphasises that the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected," she added, referring to various initiatives adopted by the international community.

Switzerland has again expressed its support for the International Criminal Court and for measures and mechanisms aimed at delivering justice for victims and at rebuilding Ukraine, including the register of damage set up by the Council of Europe. Ambassador Baeriswyl also underscored the pressing need for justice at the General Assembly's annual debate on the situation in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories on 18 July.

As a State party to the Ottawa and Oslo Conventions, Switzerland calls on all States and parties to the conflict not to use these weapons.
Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York

Switzerland supports humanitarian demining

Pascale Baeriswyl also expressed Switzerland's concern about the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions in Ukraine. "As a State party to the Ottawa and Oslo Conventions, Switzerland calls on all States and parties to the conflict not to use these weapons", she told the Council. Switzerland is providing its expertise to support humanitarian demining in Ukraine and has just launched new mine action measures thanks to a supplementary credit approved by Parliament in the 2023 summer session. In 2023, Switzerland will provide at least CHF 15 million to Ukraine for humanitarian mine action.

Swiss statement, 17.07.2023

14.07.2023 – Open debate on sexual violence in conflicts

On 14 July, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the topic of «Conflict-related sexual violence». The year 2023 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1820, which calls for a complete end to sexual violence in conflict and stresses the importance of ending impunity for such violence. Despite the progress made since then to implement this important resolution, sexual violence still affects thousands of people in conflicts every year, particularly women.

A woman of African origin from behind puts her hand in front of her mouth.
Sexual violence in conflicts particularly affects women. © Keystone

The UN Secretary General's Annual Report 2022 highlights 20 countries in which sexual violence is perpetrated. «Fifteen years after the adoption of Resolution 1820, sexual and gender-based violence in conflict persists, as does impunity. We must fully and sustainably implement the requirements that the Council set itself in this resolution», said Simon Geissbühler, Head of the FDFA’s Peace and Human Rights Division, at the debate organised by the United Kingdom.

Survivor-centred approach

During the open debate, Switzerland stressed that strengthening capacities and expertise of UN missions and national institutions was essential to preventing and deterring such crimes in the future. Furthermore, Switzerland has pointed out that the prevention of sexual violence also requires the inclusion of women in arms control and disarmament processes. The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons increases the risk of conflict-related sexual violence.

Switzerland is also in favour of an approach that focuses on survivors and takes their needs into account. «Without protection against sexual violence, there can be no equal participation. And, as we well know, the commitment of women is a precondition for lasting peace», concluded Simon Geissbühler.

Statement by Switzerland at the open debate on «Sexual violence in conflicts», UN Security Council, 14.07.2023

14.07.2023 – Switzerland supports the renewal of the BINUH mandate in Haiti

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a 12-month renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti ("BINUH"). Switzerland is in favour of this renewal in light of the increasingly precarious security situation in the country.

Haiti is in the midst of a serious political, security and humanitarian crisis. Numerous gangs control most of the capital Port-au-Prince and are increasingly terrifying the population with murders, kidnappings and rapes. The authorities, for their part, are in a weak position as crimes escalate. The Council meeting took place two years after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

A woman appears against the light at the end of a corridor.
Women are consistently made victims of sexual violence in Haiti and they have little recourse either through the law. © Keystone

The UN Secretary-General's latest report, published this month, attests to the scale of the crisis. In these difficult circumstances, "the Council must show unity in renewing the mandate of BINUH to enable it to fulfil its mission effectively", asked Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's ambassador to the UN in New York. BINUH's work on the ground is essential, in that it strives to support the Haitian authorities against impunity and to lay the foundations for lasting peace.

Swiss Statement, 06.07.2023

11.07.2023 – UN Security Council: extension of UN cross-border aid in Syria vetoed

On 11 July 2023, the UN Security Council was not able to renew the cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism in Syria for the time being. The resolution was vetoed by Russia.

The Council's resolution on cross-border aid has allowed UN agencies humanitarian access to north-western Syria since 2013, via the Turkish-Syrian border crossing Bab al-Hawa. More than four million people are dependent on this aid in this region.

Switzerland and Brazil are co-penholders in the Security Council for Syria's humanitarian dossier. Their draft resolution called for a 9-month extension of the mechanism, based on the analysis and urgent recommendations of the UN Secretary-General, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Aid and the specialised agencies and organisations active on the ground. The resolution was vetoed by Russia.

In the run-up to the vote, Switzerland advocated a twelve-month extension, an even broader proposal than the current resolution on the cross-border aid mechanism. Due to differing positions within the Council, an extension by nine months was the best possible solution to ensure that people in need receive the vital support they require effectively and without delay.

Numerous trucks are lined up in a convoy on a road in Syria.
An international convoy loaded with humanitarian aid is in north-west Syria. Over four million people in this region are in need of this vital support. © Keystone

The UN General Assembly will address the issue within 10 days, based on a UN General Assembly resolution of April 2022. According to this resolution, following the exercise of the veto by one or more permanent members of the Security Council, a meeting will be convened to address the situation.

Switzerland regrets the uncertainty this creates for the affected local population. Switzerland stays in contact with all Security Council members and humanitarian actors to facilitate, in a transparent and inclusive way an early compromise that will enable continued cross-border humanitarian access to north-western Syria.

05.07.2023 – More must be done for the well-being of children in armed conflicts

On 5 July, the topic of "Children and Armed Conflict" was at the heart of an open debate of the UN Security Council. The annual report of the UN Secretary-General on this topic was presented. The Council has so far adopted 13 resolutions that provide a framework and important instruments for the protection of children. Since 2005, more than 150,000 children have been liberated from armed groups or forces as a result. But more needs to be done. In 2022, over 27'000 serious violations of children's rights were verified in various armed conflicts. These include killings and mutilations, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. The report includes a list of warring parties that systematically commit such grave violations of children's rights.

Congolese children play football on a lawn in a rural area.
Congolese children play football in the middle of the conflict zone in front of UN peacekeepers' quarters. © Keystone

At the open debate, Switzerland underlined areas where progress is needed to better protect children in armed conflicts. First, the instruments developed by the Security Council to strengthen accountability for serious violations of children's rights must be applied in a credible, independent and transparent manner. In this context, for example, the mention of Myanmar's armed forces and the inclusion of Russia's armed forces in the list of the latest report is important. Switzerland also advocated for more measures to monitor and prevent serious violations of children's rights. Second, Switzerland condemned attacks on schools and hospitals as well as their military use. After all, access to education is a cornerstone of sustainable peace. Third, Switzerland stressed the importance of long-term reintegration programmes for children who were formerly associated with armed groups or armed forces. Such programmes would also have to offer economic prospects and address the needs of girls in order to enable sustainable integration of the affected children into civilian life and to prevent recruiting again.

Children, with their creativity, ambition and recommendations, which we have listened to carefully, can change the world.
Pascale Baeriswyl, Switzerland's UN Ambassador in New York

“Children, with their creativity, ambition and recommendations, which we have listened to carefully, can change the world. Or, in the words of Graça Machel: Children are a unifying force capable of bringing people to common ethical grounds," Switzerland's UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl underlined at the open debate in New York.

Statement by Switzerland on "Children and Armed Conflict", UN Security Council, 05.07.2023

20.06.2023 – MINUSCA is central to the protection of civilians in the Central African Republic

Today, the UN Security Council discussed the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Despite several peace agreements, there is an armed conflict in the country that regularly results in numerous deaths and injuries - including among the civilian population, whose protection is MINUSCA's priority. Over 3 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid in the country. 

A female commander with MINUSCA talks to a civilian in a village in the Central African Republic.
MINUSCA's daily tasks include protecting civilians, supporting the peace process and enabling humanitarian access. © UN Photo

Switzerland underlined at the Council meeting, that the role of women in political processes is central to building sustainable peace in the Central African Republic. Despite improvements in the security situation in some regions, armed groups continue to engage in violence. This hampers humanitarian access and increases the suffering of the population. Their protection must be guaranteed. In addition, the fight against impunity must be stepped up.

Promoting sustainable peace and protecting civilians are priorities for Switzerland in the Security Council and core concerns of its foreign policy. "We cannot consolidate peace in the Central African Republic as long as part of the population continues to be affected by violence on a daily basis. The response to insecurity in the country lies in inclusive political processes, based on international law, guaranteeing women's rights and creating a safe and respectful environment for their participation," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.

Switzerland is represented through a cooperation office in the capital Bangui since August 2022. Switzerland's engagement on the ground focuses on the protection of the civilian population as well as compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights. Eric Marclay, head of the Swiss representation, addresses in an interview Switzerland's cooperation with MINUSCA and its importance for the people in the Central African Republic.

13.06.2023 – Climate change can increase the vicious circle of tensions and conflicts

FDFA State Secretary Livia Leu represented Switzerland today at an open debate of the UN Security Council organised by the United Arab Emirates. The debate focused on the topic of Climate, Peace and Security. “Addressing climate security" is a priority for Switzerland for its Council membership in 2023 and 2024. In the Security Council, Switzerland informally co-chairs the Group of Experts on Climate and Security, together with the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique.

The effects of climate change, such as droughts, floods and other natural disasters, threaten the livelihoods of people worldwide. This undermines stability and security in many countries and regions. Armed conflicts are prevalent in more than half of the states most affected by climate change. They are the most vulnerable to its consequences. "The most systemic threat to humanity remains climate change," emphasised State Secretary Leu in the Security Council.

FDFA State Secretary Livia Leu speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
State Secretary Livia Leu emphasised in the UN Security Council that climate change remains the greatest systemic threat to humanity. © FDFA

Climate change can exacerbate the vicious cycle of tensions, fragility and conflict. "Climate security is one of the cornerstones of stability. Recognizing the undeniable link between climate change and security is therefore imperative. Our response must be innovative," State Secretary Leu told the Council.

Climate security is one of the cornerstones of stability. Recognizing the undeniable link between climate change and security is therefore imperative.
Livia Leu, FDFA State Secretary

In order to make concrete progress in the field of climate security, Livia Leu emphasised in the Council, on the one hand, the consideration of the effects of climate change in the prevention of conflicts. Science and new technologies have a central role to play here. For example, the use of early warning systems can be used to better anticipate climate-related risks. These combine the best available data on climate change and socio-economic factors to predict, for example, future food insecurity, displacement and conflict dynamics. On the other hand, Leu said that the UN Security Council's peacebuilding measures need to become more climate-sensitive. For example, climate advisors can support UN missions directly on the ground.

"Inaction is not an option. That's why this Council must act on the complex interplay between climate, peace and security. This is the only way to fulfill its mandate: to maintain international peace and security," underlined State Secretary Leu in New York.

Statement by Livia Leu on climate, peace and security, UN Security Council, 13.06.2023

06.06.2023 – Emergency meeting on the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam

The UN Security Council met on 6 June for an emergency session to discuss the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine. Switzerland expressed its deep concern about these new developments, which place an additional burden on the civilian population marked by Russia's ongoing military aggression. They further increase the burden on the civilian population suffering from Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke out yesterday via a media release, stating that the extent of the damage was still difficult to determine, but it was already clear that we are facing a humanitarian, economic and environmental catastrophe".

Huge masses of water flow through the breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine.
The breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam threatens massive flooding that could displace tens of thousands of people in Ukraine's Kherson oblast. © Keystone

Thousands of people are affected by this disaster. In addition to the devastating short-term consequences in southern Ukraine, serious long-term consequences must also be expected. "Switzerland is concerned about the risks that massive flooding could pose to the environment, as well as to energy and food security, including water supplies," Adrian Dominik Hauri told the Security Council in New York.

This event is a sad example of the connection between water and the protection of civilians, which the UN Security Council, at the request of Switzerland and Mozambique, has already addressed in detail in March 2023. In particular, the fresh water supply in southern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, depends to a large extent on the Nova Kakhovka dam. There are also large agricultural areas in these regions. In this crisis situation, the protection of the civilian population must be paramount, as required by international humanitarian law. The protection of the environment in armed conflicts is also of central importance. Switzerland is ready to fully support the immediate response of the UN and humanitarian partners who, in coordination with the Ukrainian government, are doing everything in their power to provide vital assistance, including ensuring the supply of drinking water. All parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure humanitarian access to all persons in need of assistance.

The Nova Kakhovka dam is also central to the cooling system of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, on which the Security Council recently discussed during Switzerland's presidency under the leadership of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. The "seven pillars" defined by Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state, among other things, that the integrity of the plant and logistical supplies must be guaranteed at all times.

In view of the urgency and seriousness of the situation, Switzerland underlined in the Council that attacks on civilian infrastructure are unacceptable. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on civilian objects and provides special protection for dams. Switzerland calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law. Once again, Switzerland condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay.

30.05.2023 – Switzerland advocates for the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant

Chaired by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the UN Security Council discussed on 30 May 2023 the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the presence of Ukraine. "We are all aware of the risks to the civilian population when a nuclear power plant is located in a war zone. It is our duty to protect the civilian population," Federal Councillor Cassis said in New York. 

We are all aware of the risks to the civilian population when a nuclear power plant is located in a war zone. It is our duty to protect the civilian population
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

At the briefing, IAEA Director General Grossi presented five principles to the Council for the protection of the nuclear power plant in south-eastern Ukraine:

  1. no attacks of any kind from or against the nuclear power plant;
  2. no storage or stationing of heavy weapons or military personel at the plant;
  3. no threat to the offsite power supply;
  4. protection of all systems necessary for safe operation against attacks or acts of sabotage;
  5.  no action that undermines these principles.

During the meeting, Switzerland reiterated its condemnation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and any attacks against civilian infrastructure. Switzerland again called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. It welcomed the IAEA's commitment to protecting civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine and called on all Council members to support the five principles proposed by the IAEA for protecting the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Federal Councillor Cassis called on Russia and Ukraine in particular to fully implement these five principles.

In consultation with the IAEA and the other Council members, Swiss diplomacy has been working in recent weeks to ensure that the meeting takes place. Switzerland recalled that the protection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is a matter of respect for international humanitarian law. Respecting and promoting this law is a priority for Switzerland and a pillar of its Good Offices.

We are committed to protecting civilian populations: it is with this commitment that we have taken the Presidency of this Council.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Today's meeting is thematically linked to the Federal Council's priorities for Switzerland's seat on the Security Council. During the presidential month of May, several meetings were chaired by members of the Federal Council. On 3 and 4 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired an open debate focusing on mutual trust and a meeting on the cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On 23 May, President Alain Berset emphasised in the Council that the protection of civilians in armed conflict must not only exist on paper, but also be increasingly implemented in practice. For her part, Federal Councillor Viola Amherd chaired a session on the financing of peace missions in Africa on 25 May. Today's session will focus on the protection of civilians from nuclear disasters. With these and other geographical and thematic meetings, the Federal Council is on track in implementing its priorities. Overall, Switzerland draws a positive conclusion from this first Council Presidency.

Five principles for ensuring nuclear safety at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, IAEA (IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi) 

Address by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis 

News ticker: Switzerland's commitment for Ukraine 

30.05.2023 – UN Security Council extends mandate of UN Mission for Iraq and sanctions measures in South Sudan

The UN Security Council today extended unanimously the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). It advises and supports the Iraqi government and people in promoting inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation at the national and local levels, on the electoral process, on dialogue with its neighbours, and on the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reforms.

Today, the UN Security Council also extended the sanctions measures in South Sudan and the mandate of the associated expert panel. Switzerland supported the extension of both mandates in the Security Council.

30.05.2023 – Video: Protecting civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The civilian population pays high a price in armed conflicts. Switzerland's long-standing humanitarian tradition and commitment to international humanitarian law are recognised worldwide. Protecting civilians and persons no longer taking part in hostilities is at the heart of numerous conflicts worldwide on the agenda of the Security Council. In the video, Laura Reymond-Joubin, Human Security Advisor, explains what she is doing to protect civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

25.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Amherd chairs Council meeting on sustainable funding for African Union peace support missions

Federal Councillor Viola Amherd chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council on 25 May to mark Africa Day and the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping. In 1948, the UN Security Council mandated the first peacekeeping mission, UNTSO, to monitor the ceasefire in the Middle East. In addition to UN peacekeeping missions, the Security Council also authorises operations by regional organisations. Today's meeting focused on predictable, sustainable and flexible funding for African Union (AU) peace support missions.

Federal Councillor Viola Amherd speaks at the horseshoe table of the UN Security Council in New York.
Federal Councillor Viola Amherd emphasised in the UN Security Council the close cooperation with Africa and the African Union for peace and security on the continent. © FDFA

Numerous conflicts are being fought on the African continent. The AU, as the regional organisation of the continent's states, is therefore of particular importance. It is the key organisation for peace and security issues in Africa and is thus also an important partner of the UN. "Switzerland welcomes this important contribution. We intend to use our mandate in the Council to work even more closely with Africa and the AU and to continue our long-standing support for the peace and security architecture on this continent," said Federal Councillor Viola Amherd in the Security Council.

Switzerland supports the initiative of the African members in the UN Security Council for a new Council decision aiming at predictable, sustainable and flexible funding for AU missions. This would be a decisive step for the future of peace operations. Switzerland will make a constructive contribution to this in the Security Council.

Speech by Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, UN Security Council, 25.05.2023

23.05.2023 – Open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts led by the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset

On Tuesday, 23 May, as part of Switzerland’s presidency of the UN Security Council, President Alain Berset chaired an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. “We have the legal, political and operational instruments to protect civilians from armed conflict”, said President Berset, referring to the unanimously adopted resolutions of 2018 and 2021 on food security and the protection of civilian infrastructure. Such instruments would have to be better applied by the Security Council and all UN member states in future. Speaking on Switzerland’s behalf, Mr Berset suggested five ways in which this could be achieved, while stressing that political will was crucial.

President Alain Berset speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
President Alain Berset chaired an open debate in the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians and underlined the importance of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts. © FDFA

The five points include, firstly, ending attacks on supplies of essential goods. Second, assuring full, rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need. Third, parties to the conflict that use the starvation of civilians as an instrument of war must be held accountable. Fourth, Switzerland calls for the full inclusion of women in all processes to protect the civilian population. And fifth, the civilian population must remain well protected when UN peace missions withdraw.

More lives are lost in armed conflicts as a result of shortages of essential goods and services such as water, food and access to healthcare than through the direct effects of hostilities. Those taking part in the open debate included members of the UN Security Council and representatives of other states, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, and a civil society representative from West Africa. The debate highlighted the importance of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts, an issue that Switzerland, as depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and host state of the ICRC, has long been strongly committed to. 

Speech by President Alain Berset on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, UN Security Council, 23.05.2023

18.05.2023 – Iraq: Addressing the consequences of climate change to promote security

At the end of May, the UN Security Council will vote on extending the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). After decades of insecurity, slow reconstruction after the Gulf War and the presence of the Islamic State, which was pushed back in 2017, positive developments have been seen in Iraq in recent years. As of 2018, reconstruction was underway. The number of internally displaced people has dropped from 5 million to 1.2 million. Nevertheless, Iraq remains politically and confessionally divided. UNAMI is doing important work to secure Iraq's future as a stable state in which all of society - especially women and girls - participate equally without discrimination.

A woman bakes bread in the streets of Baghdad.
Switzerland is working to ensure that women and girls in Iraq can participate in public life on an equal footing without being discriminated against. © Keystone

Switzerland welcomes the Iraqi government's efforts and reforms to fight corruption, protect human rights and mitigate the effects of climate change. "Indeed, climate change is a destabilizing factor in Iraq. It is contributing to droughts and water scarcity, with serious consequences for agriculture and livelihoods, which increase the threat of social unrest and internal displacement. Every measure aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change also serves the purpose of prevention," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the UN Security Council on 18 May. Switzerland is committed to maintaining or strengthening the climate change aspects of UNAMI's mandate. In addition, Switzerland stressed that the protection of minorities and those in need of protection is central to social cohesion and national reconciliation among different ethnic groups.

UNAMI is a civilian assistance mission that was created in 2003 at the request of Iraq by a decision of the UN Security Council. In 2007, the mission's role was strengthened. It advises and supports the Iraqi government and people in promoting inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation at the national and local levels, on the electoral process, on dialogue with its neighbours, and on the protection of human rights and judicial and legal reforms.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Iraq, UN Security Council, 18.05.2023

17.05.2023 – Video: Addressing climate security in the Horn of Africa

This week, we are focusing on the priority of "addressing climate security" for Switzerland's membership in the UN Security Council. Climate change also threatens peace and international security. Rising temperatures or droughts can, for example, cause food price fluctuations and fiercer competition for natural resources, make livelihoods more insecure and displace people. Climate change is a risk multiplier with the potential to exacerbate existing political, social, economic and ecological stress factors. The most vulnerable population groups are usually the most exposed to climate risks. Switzerland also has the expertise and know-how necessary to mitigate climate-related risks in this area.

The Horn of Africa is one of the most fragile regions in the world. Armed conflicts, but also the consequences of climate change, have far-reaching consequences for the civilian population. These include food security and access to basic services such as health care. Find out what Switzerland is doing on site in the video.

11.05.2023 – 129 states set an example for responsible action in the case of war crimes

During Switzerland's presidency of the UN Security Council, the ACT Group, which advocates for an effective UN, celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Within the group, Switzerland has promoted a code of conduct by which states voluntarily commit themselves not to vote against resolutions in the UN Security Council aimed at preventing or ending war crimes and crimes against humanity. 129 UN members or observers have signed it to date. This is a strong signal to the Council and should strengthen its effectiveness – a priority for Switzerland for its Council membership.

Article: 129 states set an example for responsible action in the case of war crimes

10.05.2023 – Promoting unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina is central to sustainable peace and security

In a debate on 10 May 2023, the UN Security Council addressed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland has been involved on the ground for over 30 years. More than 60,000 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina live in Switzerland today. "Our countries are closely linked. We contribute to lasting peace, security, prosperity and good governance in the country," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in the Security Council. She also recalled the important work of the peacekeeping mission EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which contributes significantly to securing peace in a region where tensions are once again on the rise.

A member of the Swiss Armed Forces stands next to an operational vehicle and observes a valley in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Swiss Armed Forces support the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina with two Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT) stationed in Mostar and Trebinje. Their tasks also include patrolling remote areas. © DDPS

Almost 30 years after the war, the broader society in Bosnia and Herzegovina still faces challenges that are deeply rooted and require lasting solutions. Despite certain positive developments in the field of human rights, hate speech and the reinterpretation of historical events persist. "We urge to refrain from any rhetoric of discord," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. To overcome these challenges, the promotion of the countries’ unity through fostering respect for the diversity and fundamental freedoms of the people is key. To this end, all political actors must work hand in hand to serve the interest of the entire population. In this context, the participation of women and youth in political decision-making processes is central as it benefits the reconciliation process and society in general. In addition, the rights of minorities must be protected and the freedom of the media and assembly guaranteed and strengthened.

The Balkan state has officially been a candidate for EU membership since December 2022. "Switzerland will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path. We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its peaceful and multi-ethnic future," said Pascale Baeriswyl in the Council.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

04.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Cassis chairs briefing on UN-OSCE cooperation

On 4 May 2023, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis chaired the annual UN Security Council briefing on cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). At this meeting, the current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Bujar Osmani, Foreign Minister of Northern Macedonia, briefed the Council on the OSCE’s priorities and activities. The UN Charter recognises the importance of cooperation between the UN and the various regional organisations, including the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union. In May, the UN and the OSCE celebrate the 30th anniversary of their cooperation, which was sealed with the signing of an agreement in 1993. Russia's military aggression against Ukraine represents the greatest challenge in the history of the OSCE. Against this backdrop, the leitmotif chosen by the current OSCE Chairmanship, "It’s About People", is more relevant than ever. "Our primary responsibility is to protect the civilian population. This responsibility is the essence of the link between the OSCE and the United Nations," Federal Councillor Cassis underlined in the Security Council.

It is up to all of us to preserve the OSCE's capacity for action.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

The OSCE is the largest regional security organisation in the world. Its presence in 13 countries has a stabilising effect in regions such as the Western Balkans, the Caucasus or Central Asia. The OSCE has mechanisms to document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. It also does important work to counter the negative effects of climate change in the region, for example in the sustainable management of water resources. "We must not allow the future of Europe to be decided by the law of force. Switzerland is committed to holding the force of law against this. It is up to all of us to preserve the OSCE's capacity for action," Federal Councillor Cassis highlighted in New York. For the OSCE should remain central to the promotion of dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Europe.

Speech by Ignazio Cassis - Briefing OSCE, UN Security Council, 04.05.2023

03.05.2023 – Federal Councillor Cassis calls for mutual trust for peace and security

On 3 May, as President of the UN Security Council, Switzerland organised an open debate in which it highlighted its priority of "promoting sustainable peace". Mutual trust and strong focused multilateralism are central to finding solutions to global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, world economic crises and last but not least peace and security. "The multilateral system is under strain, but it has not failed. The time has come to optimise our instruments to restore trust and secure lasting peace," said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, who chaired the Council debate.

The head of the FDFA highlighted the ways in which multilateralism can offer added value. First, a normative framework respected by all strengthens predictability, which, in contrast to arbitrariness, fosters mutual trust. Second, peacebuilding should take an inclusive approach. Third, trust must be underpinned by scientifically sound facts. "Science and new technologies offer us the opportunity to better anticipate and understand the risks of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. We must respond to the challenges of the 21st century with 21st century answers," said Ignazio Cassis in New York. It is also important to use this knowledge to prevent conflicts and secure peace. "Today's debate is an opportunity to gather ideas from UN member states and to use the synergies that unite us. Trust is won through deeds, not intentions," Federal Councillor Cassis underlined during the debate.

Press release

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis – "Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace", UN Security Council, 03.05.2023

Switzerland's presidency of the UN Security Council

01.05.2023 – Sustainable peace based on trust

On 3 May, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will preside over the first flagship event organised by Switzerland at the UN Security Council. The Security Council's debate will be held under the banner 'Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace' to advance one of the Swiss priorities in the Council, 'building sustainable peace'.

The aim of the debate is to review and strengthen the Security Council's confidence-building approaches and instruments in order to build sustainable peace in the face of current and future challenges.

Press release

27.04.2023 – UN Security Council condemns ban on women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan

Today, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Taliban's decision to ban Afghan women from working for the UN in Afghanistan. These decisions have a devastating impact on a large part of the population and constitute a serious obstacle to a united, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Afghanistan. This new work ban affects the ability of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to fulfil its mandate, which was extended by the Security Council for 12 months on 16 March 2023.

A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past him in Kabul.
The Taliban have massively restricted the participation of women and girls in public life in Afghanistan. © Keystone

Switzerland voted in favour of the resolution in the Security Council. The resolution is a clear signal from the Security Council in this alarming situation and calls on the Taliban to lift their decrees. The ban is a violation of the UN Charter and women's rights, hinders humanitarian aid and the social and economic development of the country.

The entire Afghan society, especially women and girls as well as ethnic minorities, must be able to participate in public life without fear of reprisals. This is indispensable for the urgently needed development as well as for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Women in Afghanistan are no longer allowed to work for NGOs – the FDFA is concerned about the situation

27.04.2023 – The future of Kosovo is close to Switzerland's heart

Today, for the first time since joining the Security Council, Switzerland pronounced itself on the report of the UN mission UNMIK and the situation in Kosovo. The people who came to Switzerland from the Western Balkans over 20 years ago are now an important part of Swiss society. "The future of Kosovo, its people as well as a lasting peace in the Western Balkans are close to our hearts," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council in New York.

Switzerland is committed to peaceful and multi-ethnic societies in Kosovo and throughout the Western Balkans that respect human rights and the rule of law. "Peaceful coexistence can only be achieved through honest, constructive, and inclusive dialogue," Baeriswyl emphasised. This also includes the equal and effective participation of women. Cooperation between Kosovo and international actors on the ground has borne fruit. Kosovo has been able to achieve success in the fight against corruption and organised crime, for example.

Two women of the Swiss Armed Forces look at a map on the bonnet of a jeep.
The Swiss Armed Forces have been participating in the Kosovo Force (KFOR) with SWISSCOY since 1999 and deployed so-called Liaison and Monitoring Teams (LMT) since 2010. These observation teams serve KFOR as an early warning system for potential changes in the situation. © DDPS

The agreement on the path towards normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is a welcome achievement. Now it's time to build on this positive momentum and fully implement the commitments made. The security situation, especially in northern Kosovo, remains tense. Switzerland deplores actions and statements that lead to further tensions and calls on the parties to strive for reconciliation and lasting peace. It condemns inter-ethnic incidents in Kosovo, which are an obstacle to building trust. In this context, the Kosovo Force (KFOR), to which Switzerland also contributes a military contingent, continues to play an important role as guarantor of a stable and secure environment in Kosovo. 

Statement by Switzerland in the UN Security Council on the situation in Kosovo

24.04.2024 – Open debate on multilateralism day

During an open debate on 24 April, the UN Security Council discussed the effectiveness of multilateralism. Especially in a time of multiple crises, multilateralism needs to be strengthened and focused. The international community should ensure, that its efforts are concentrated on the major issues that cannot be solved in isolation, such as climate change, pandemics or extreme poverty; the world economic crises or the threat of war. 

Country flags fly in the wind in front of the UN headquarters in New York.
Trust in and within the UN system is central to the implementation of the principles of the UN Charter. © UN Photo

The UN Charter, adopted shortly after the end of the Second World War in June 1945, is the basis of the multilateral system. Territorial expansion by force – formerly a privilege of the great military powers and a legitimate means of foreign policy – was prohibited by the Charter. "Switzerland is convinced that effective multilateralism remains the only way to achieve the vision of a peaceful and just world. A world where the rule of law prevails and not the law of the strongest and where human dignity is always respected. A world in which, finally, the entire population benefits from social and economic progress", said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl in New York.

However, the impact of the UN Charter is only as great as the will of the international community to implement it. All too often, this will is lacking. The principles of the Charter are not a menu from which we can pick and choose. "We call for unconditional respect for international law by all actors in all circumstances. And we call for the courage to finally and seriously engage in reforms of the multilateral system, including this Council, in order to restore confidence in and within that system", Baeriswyl underlined at the Security Council.

18.04.2023 – Outlook for Switzerland's Presidency of the UN Security Council

In May 2023, Switzerland will hold the presidency of the UN Security Council. This role is bound by rules. Its primary purpose is to ensure that Security Council business runs smoothly so that the council can take decisions. The members of the Security Council assume the presidency in turn, in the English alphabetical order of the names of the member states.

In this capacity, the country holding the presidency of the Security Council chairs meetings and, if necessary, represents the council externally and before other UN bodies such as the General Assembly. Switzerland's one-month presidency will allow it to focus on its thematic priorities for its 2023–24 membership and to give impetus to the Security Council's work. 

Article: Switzerland's presidency of the UN Security Council

30.03.2023 – "Silencing the Guns in Africa" initiative: fewer weapons, strong institutions, dialogue and inclusion of the consequences of climate change

In an open debate on 30 March, the UN Security Council discussed the "Silencing the Guns in Africa" initiative of the African Union (AU) – an association of African states. The initiative aims to end war, conflicts and gender-based violence on the African continent.

Switzerland supports efforts to achieve sustainable peace in Africa. The initiative is ambitious and faces numerous challenges. "Unfortunately, as in other parts of the world, weapons are still not silent in Africa. The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition continues to spur violence, threaten peace, tear apart the social fabric and hinder development," said Swiss Deputy UN Ambassador, Adrian Hauri, at the UN Security Council.

An iron sculpture in the shape of a gun with a knotted barrel stands in front of the UN headquarters in New York.
The UN Security Council considered the African Union's "Silencing the Guns" initiative, which aims to end war and conflicts on the African continent. © UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Against this background, Switzerland underlined four areas in the Council that can contribute to the success of "Silencing the Guns". First, the supply of and demand for weapons must be reduced. The consideration of political, economic and social factors, as well as respect for international law, are central to the prevention of violence and conflict. Second, local institutions must be strengthened so that they can provide sustainable public services, which strengthens the population's trust in state structures. Third, the link between climate change and conflict should be considered in all humanitarian and peace policy activities as well as in development cooperation. There is an urgent need for affected states to reduce their vulnerability to climate shocks in order to contribute to peace and security. Fourth, dialogue between conflict parties is central to defusing tensions before violence erupts and resolving existing conflicts. Such dialogue should systematically involve women and youth. In line with its tradition of engaging in mediation and good offices, Switzerland remains committed to providing platforms for dialogue.

The weapons will not be silent as long as they are easier to obtain than a job or an apprenticeship.
Adrian Hauri, Deputy Ambassador of Switzerland to the UN in New York

"The weapons will not be silent as long as they are easier to obtain than a job or an apprenticeship. Our peace efforts must go hand in hand with confidence-building measures, the strengthening of institutions and the rule of law, the promotion of social cohesion, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and the creation of economic prospects, especially for young people," Hauri stressed in New York.

Statement by Switzerland at the UN Security Council: "Silencing the Guns in Africa", 30.03.2023

27.03.2023 – Nord Stream Investigations

On 26 September 2022, the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were damaged by several explosive devices. The motive and authorship of the acts of sabotage remain unknown. On 27 March 2023, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution tabled by Russia calling for a UN investigation into the authorship of the acts of sabotage.

Map of the Baltic and North Seas showing the route of the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
The motive and authorship of the acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines remain unknown. © FDFA

In principle, UN investigations can add value, for example in the absence of credible national investigations by competent authorities. In this specific case, investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden are already under way. Switzerland considers it more appropriate to await the results of these investigations, while at the same time calling for a rapid clarification of the acts of sabotage. Switzerland has therefore abstained from voting.

22.03.2023 – Access to water must be guaranteed at all times, even in times of war

At the initiative of Switzerland and Mozambique – both elected members of the Council – the UN Security Council held an informal meeting on 22 March on the occasion of the World Water Day to discuss the protection of access to water and sanitation infrastructure in armed conflicts. This protection is a central pillar for the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. 

"Water is essential to all life on earth and access to water is a fundamental right. It must be guaranteed at all times, including in times of war", stressed Christian Frutiger, Deputy Director-General and Head of the SDC's Thematic Cooperation Division, representing Federal Councillor Cassis, at the Security Council. Despite existing obligations under international humanitarian law, which is also reflected in several Security Council resolutions, water facilities continue to be destroyed or damaged in armed conflicts.

Yemeni women and children wait to fill jerry cans with water from a spring.
As in other conflict regions around the world, a large proportion of the civilian population in Yemen suffers from a lack of basic services and resources - including lack of access to clean water. © Keystone

Today, some two billion people are at risk of water scarcity as a result of conflict. This not only results in a lack of water for people and agriculture, but also the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera due to poor hygiene. This is why Switzerland emphasised in the Council, that international humanitarian law must be respected and enforced everywhere and without fail. International humanitarian law fundamentally protects water infrastructure as a civilian object. It also prohibits attacking, destroying and rendering useless goods that are essential for the survival of the civilian population, such as drinking water supply facilities, water supplies and irrigation systems.

A functioning water infrastructure is also central to the consolidation of sustainable peace after hostilities. The absence of such structures prevents the resumption of economic and social activities in areas already severely affected by the war. This can result in a perpetuation of instability and a heightened risk that old tensions will flare up again. The meeting also highlighted the negative impact of climate change as an factor that further compounds the protection of water services and infrastructure in armed conflicts. This is why Switzerland also focused on the importance of prevention, reconstruction and the support of the international community for conflict-affected states and regions in its statement to the Security Council.

"The current challenges in terms of access, management and governance of water are manyfold and require multilateral solutions", Frutiger emphasised in New York. This is why Switzerland is committed to the permanent inclusion of this topic in the priorities of the UN.

Statement by Switzerland on the protection of access to water and sanitation in armed conflicts

Newsticker: Swiss participation at the UN Water Conference, 22-24 March 2023

Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace, SDC

16.03.2023 – UN Security Council extends UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

On 16 March, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for 12 months. As an elected member of the Council, Switzerland voted in favour of this resolution. UNAMA provides humanitarian assistance and good offices in Afghanistan, promotes and protects human rights, supports gender equality, and protects children affected by armed conflict. The mission is also mandated to promote development and governance in Afghanistan, including the rule of law. These are all issues that lie at the centre of Swiss foreign policy. On the ground, Switzerland is working with partner organisations such as the UN, the ICRC and NGOs to reduce human suffering.

The Security Council also unanimously adopted a resolution mandating an independent assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to ensure a coherent approach by political, humanitarian and development actors. A common political strategy is particularly important given the gravity of the situation. Switzerland expects the voices of women and civil society to be taken into account during this assessment.

In a barren mountainous landscape in Afghanistan, four girls and a boy walk along a ridge.
The future of Afghan society cannot overlook women and girls. In the UN Security Council, Switzerland demands their participation in public life and political processes. © Keystone

Afghanistan is confronted with numerous, mutually reinforcing crises that have plunged the country into deep insecurity. The fall of the government in summer 2021 has led to the further deterioration of the situation – especially for women and girls. The list of incidents of violence against women and girls is long. It includes murder, honour killings and forced marriages, among others. Their access to education and work is virtually non-existent, especially since the decrees imposed by the Taliban at the end of 2022, which further restrict the rights of women and girls. Switzerland is calling on the Taliban to reverse these decrees.

Switzerland welcomes the renewal of UNAMA's mandate, as its activities are vital for the Afghan people. Two thematic areas are central to Switzerland: On the one hand, the whole of Afghan society, especially women and girls as well as ethnic minorities, must be able to participate in public life without fear of reprisals. This is essential for economic and social development as well as for lasting peace in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the plight of the civilian population is immense. More than 28 million people in the country are dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival. What is needed are not only quick but also long-term solutions, especially for food insecurity. To ensure that these efforts are successful, the Taliban must recognise the key role of women in Afghan society, economy and politics.

Swiss statement in the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan are no longer allowed to work for NGOs – the FDFA is concerned about the situation

Afghanistan, SDC

15.03.2023 – Fragile peace in South Sudan: UN Security Council extends mandate of peacekeeping mission

On 15 March, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for another year by resolution. In the Security Council, Switzerland supported the renewal of the Mandate to ensure that the mission continues to be equipped for the challenges that lie ahead in the country. The mandate is in line with Switzerland’s priorities for the Council membership - namely protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and addressing climate security. After decades of conflict, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. When the new government collapsed in 2013, the young state fell into a spiral of civil war, which ended at the national level in 2018 with a peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the war and millions were displaced, over half of them women and children.

But the peace is fragile. The implementation of the peace agreement is slow. The formation of a transitional government in February 2020 only slightly accelerated this process. At the sub-national level, violence unfortunately remains a daily occurrence. "In order to reduce violence and strengthen peaceful coexistence, peace dialogues among the population are essential. In recent years, Switzerland has worked with the South Sudan Council of Churches to support such dialogue processes. UNMISS also promotes such dialogue," Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl mentioned at the UN Security Council. Next year, elections and the end of the transition period are coming up, which will bring further challenges.

A convoy of white armoured UN vehicles drives along a dusty road.
NMISS has a stabilising effect in South Sudan and is central to the implementation of the peace agreement and building democratic state institutions. © UN Photo

Driven by conflict and severe food insecurity, the country is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. "This crisis is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which further compounds the effects of the conflict. We encourage the South Sudanese government to address these challenges with the support of UNMISS," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. This is why, during the negotiations on the mandate, Switzerland also advocated for the UN Secretary-General to include a reference to the risks associated with the effects of climate change in his report on UNMISS to the Security Council. The mandate also now mentions the UNs goal of increasing the use of renewable energies in peace missions in order to ensure the responsible use of natural resources. As co-chair of the Council's informal expert group on climate and security, Switzerland also advocates for this issue at a broader level.

The tasks of UNMISS include the protection of civilians, logistical support for humanitarian aid, support for the implementation of the peace agreement, the promotion of international humanitarian law and the strengthening of human rights. 2023 will be an important year to prepare for the end of the transition phase.

A fragile peace, news article

UNMISS, Statement of Switzerland in the UN Security Council

07.03.2023 – Women play a key role in achieving sustainable peace

President Alain Berset also addressed the UN Security Council for the first time on 7 March as part of his participation in the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The topic of "Women, Peace and Security" was at the centre of the open debate of the Council. The President of the Confederation underlined the importance of women's participation in political decision-making and peace processes. In reference to his recent trip to Mozambique in February 2023, he said: "Women are committed to peace, both in their communities and at the national level. They contribute to building a just and equal political and economic future for their country."

President Alain Berset speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset underlined the importance of women for sustainable peace in his speech at the UN Security Council. © UN

The agenda "Women, Peace and Security" was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2000: Resolution 1325 and its follow-up resolutions recognise the role of women in all efforts to achieve lasting peace and call for the protection of women's rights. Nevertheless, women often continue to be the first targets of violence, hate speech, threats, retaliation and sexual assault in conflict situations - such incidents are also increasingly taking place in the virtual space.

The implementation of the agenda still needs to be strengthened across the globe. Berset called on the Council to take concrete action to address these challenges: "Words must now be matched with concrete actions in terms of budget, personnel and policy. This is a prerequisite for women to be able to speak out and contribute to sustainable peace - safely, freely and without fear of reprisals."

Statement by President Berset at the UN Security Council

UN Commission on the Status of Women: Switzerland highlights importance of digitalisation for gender equality, press release, 06.03.2023

24.02.2023 – UN Security Council: Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of Geneva Conventions and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, took part in a high-level UN Security Council debate in New York on 24 February 2023. Mr Cassis called for the withdrawal of Russia's armed forces present on Ukraine's sovereign territory for a year and for respect of the Geneva Conventions. He also underscored Switzerland's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"After a year of war, we must combine our strengths, ideas and resources to restore a sense of security in Europe and ensure a return to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," said Mr Cassis before the Security Council.

As a permanently neutral country, Switzerland fully respects its obligations under the law of neutrality. It does not favour any of the belligerents militarily. Still, as Mr Cassis recalled, "neutrality does not mean indifference to violations of international law". He stressed that "Switzerland stands ready to bring all parties to the table in order to bolster respect for international humanitarian law and ultimately achieve peace."

Federal Councillor Cassis sits at a table and looks at a large screen showing a woman giving a speech.
During his stay in New York, Federal Councillor Cassis took part virtually in a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on the subject of Ukraine. © FDFA

23.02.2023 – UN General Assembly: Ignazio Cassis condemns Russian aggression and calls for path to lasting peace in Ukraine

Mr Cassis is at the United Nations headquarters in New York this weekend, one year after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. He is taking part in an emergency special session of the General Assembly, as well as in a Security Council debate. This serves as an occasion for him to reiterate Switzerland's strong condemnation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, still under way, and to call for an immediate end to the conflict and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's sovereign territory.

Federal Councillor Cassis stands at the lectern and speaks. The UN logo can be seen in the foreground.
Federal Councillor Cassis addresses the UN General Assembly. © FDFA

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by a large majority (141 votes), with Mr Cassis in attendance. The resolution calls on states and international organisations to strengthen their support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in keeping with the UN Charter, and on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

"With today's resolution, we are sending out a strong message of peace and respect for the principles that unite us," said Mr Cassis before the General Assembly. The new text calls on UN member states and international organisations to strengthen their support for peace. For Mr Cassis, who stressed his appeal to the entire international community "to work hand in hand towards a peaceful settlement of this conflict," it is a clear signal from the international community to Russia.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Press release

14.02.2023 – Rising sea levels threaten world peace and security

"The facts are clear: our planet is getting warmer, causing water levels to rise and glaciers to melt. Switzerland is at the forefront of the latter phenomenon" said Thomas Gürber, FDFA deputy state secretary and head of the UN division at a meeting at the UN Security Council. Malta, which chairs the Security Council in February 2023, organised the debate.

Rising water levels and more frequent flooding due to climate change threaten infrastructure in coastal areas. In addition, agricultural production, food security and habitat are threatened by soil erosion and salinisation. As a result, some regions become uninhabitable, forcing millions of people to leave their region or country. This issue challenges the entire UN system and thus also the Security Council. "The Security Council has a key role to play. It must face one of the greatest contemporary risks for humanity," Thomas Gürber underlined.

Thomas Gürber speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York
Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary at the FDFA, speaks at the UN Security Council about the impact rising sea levels can have on international peace and security. © UNO

Displacements caused by rising sea levels have the potential to exacerbate conflicts between communities. Switzerland is working within the UN Security Council to counteract the negative effects of climate change on global peace and security. The deputy state secretary called on the Council increase the integration of the effects of climate change into its activities and into the mandates of peacekeeping missions.

"The impacts of climate change and sea level rise are already being felt today, in a differentiated fashion depending on the contexts," Gürber stressed in New York. Through its foreign policy , Switzerland has been active in this area for years. For example, it launched the Nansen Initiative together with Norway in 2012 and the Geneva-based "Platform on Displacement in the Context of Natural Disasters" in 2015. The aim of the latter is to improve protection for people who have to flee their country because of natural disasters and negative consequences of climate change.

Statement by Switzerland at the ministerial debate in the UN Security Council on sea-level rise, 14.02.2023

13.02.2023 – Switzerland calls in the UN Security Council for rapid humanitarian access to the civilian population in Syria after the earthquake

In its role as co-penholder in the UN Security Council for the humanitarian dossier on Syria, Switzerland, together with Brazil, has requested a meeting of the council in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey. This event also affected northern Syria, where the humanitarian situation was already extremely worrying prior to the earthquake. At the meeting, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council on the situation in the earthquake zone and the humanitarian needs on the ground.

Following the meeting, during a press stakeout, Switzerland and Brazil jointly called on all stakeholders to provide rapid, unhindered and sustainable humanitarian access to the affected civilian population in Syria. To date, the UN - based on a UN Security Council resolution - has been able to provide cross-border aid to Syria only through the "Bab el Hawa" crossing. Switzerland and Brazil were encouraged by Syria's decision to open two more border crossings, as announced yesterday. They also took the opportunity to underline that should it be necessary, they remain ready to facilitate any decision in the Security Council.

Switzerland is in close contact with humanitarian actors on the ground as well as with the coordinating UN agency OCHA and other UN agencies. In its approach as co-penholder, it is guided by the assessments of these humanitarian actors. The focus is placed on the humanitarian needs of the affected civilian population.

Newsticker: Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

13.02.2023 – Protection, reintegration and education for children in armed conflicts

The UN Security Council addressed the situation of children in armed conflict on 13 February 2023. Violent conflicts have a catastrophic impact on children and young people across the globe. Millions of children and young people are affected and deprived of their future prospects.

The issue of children in armed conflicts is closely linked to two of the Swiss Security Council priorities including "protecting civilians" and "promoting sustainable peace". In the Council and through its foreign policy, Switzerland pursues three dimensions of action to mitigate the consequences of conflicts on children. "This Council has developed numerous tools to prevent grave violations. For these tools to maintain their deterrent effect, their independence, impartiality, and credibility must be preserved", said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council in New York.

African children with painted faces dance.
Former child soldiers perform a dance as part of a music therapy programme in Uganda. Psychosocial support is an important pillar in overcoming war trauma. © Keystone

First: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children are better protected in conflicts. One way it does this is by supporting a United Nations system that documents serious violations in armed conflicts. The UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict reviews these and makes recommendations for possible measures to better protect children. Secondly, for sustainable peace to have a chance, children must be reintegrated into society after their involvement in an armed conflict. Switzerland promotes the transition to civilian life. In addition to having a safe place to live, psychosocial support as well as educational and professional opportunities are key for concerned children. Thirdly: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children and young people have access to education despite conflicts. Through education, children can realise their full potential, develop their skills and restore a sense of normality and security.

"By seeking to ensure that children have access to education and are reintegrated into society after a conflict, we are making an important contribution to lasting peace and prosperity," says Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, Head of the Peace and Human Rights Division at the FDFA

Missing out on school due to war, news article

09.02.2023 – Combating terrorism needs a holistic approach

On 9 February, the UN Security Council addressed the impact of terrorism on international peace and security. In the Council, Switzerland strongly condemned all forms of terrorist activity. This is because terrorism – particularly the Islamic State and sympathising groups in Africa and Central Asia – poses a threat both to individuals and to international stability, peace and prosperity. Terrorism knows no borders or nationalities and is a challenge that the international community must address together. However, this fight against terrorism must be conducted with the rule of law and human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected.

Switzerland, too, has not been spared acts of terrorism. This shows that the terrorist threat has become more diffuse in recent decades, especially in Europe. It now usually emanates from individual radicalised persons.

Concrete blocks block a street in the Swiss capital Bern. Behind them, a market is crowded with people.
Concrete blocks as protection against an attack with a vehicle also testify to the continuing global threat of terrorism at the traditional "Zibelemärit" in Bern. © Keystone

Every terrorist threat has its own root causes and its own dynamics of radicalisation and violence. To address this threat at its core and to be preventive, solutions need to be adapted to the specific context in the state concerned, taking into account the different needs of society to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism that can lead to terrorism. Women and youth can play an important role in this. "The fight against terrorism can only be successful if we look at the situation as a whole, taking into account all the factors that lead to radicalisation and violence. Thus, we can only succeed if we abide by the rule of law", underlined Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York, at the Security Council.

Statement by Switzerland on the threat to international peace and security posed by terrorism, UN Security Council, 09.02.2023

01.02.2023 – Peace and security for millions of people in West Africa and the Sahel

The mandate of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) conferred by the UN Security Council was extended for a further three years. It covers 16 countries in the region, where millions of people face multiple, complex challenges that pose a threat to regional security. The commitment of UNOWAS is therefore crucial.

As the lead country for this dossier together with Ghana ('co-penholders'), Switzerland is contributing its expertise to the debates in the Security Council. It has long worked for peace and development in the Sahel, pursuing the same goals as UNOWAS, including protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on security in the region.

The cooperation between Switzerland and UNOWAS explained. (Video in French, subtitles in English)

A holistic approach is required for conflict prevention and promoting stability in the affected countries. Switzerland also represents this position in the Security Council as an actor on the ground. Central pillars of its work include climate security and the prevention of violent extremism.

Droughts or floods exacerbated by climate change threaten the livelihoods of many people and can forcibly displace them from their homes. This can further increase the potential for conflict. Switzerland also advocates in the Security Council that addressing these impacts be integrated into the solutions-based approach in the region. On the ground, Switzerland strengthens the resilience of the local population and works to preserve their natural resources. Switzerland is also committed to increasing the participation of women in political decision-making processes in the region.

The prevention of violent extremism is important for the sustainable security of the population in West Africa and the Sahel. In 2016, Switzerland, together with regional partners and UNOWAS, launched an initiative for regional talks on the prevention of violent extremism in Africa. Over 1,000 people regularly take part in this exchange. The focus is on approaches to prevention, networking of regional actors and positive alternatives to violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel. The next round of talks will take place in Dakar at the end of February 2023. Carol Mottet from the FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division talks about the context in the following interview.

Interview: Switzerland and UNOWAS: a win-win partnership

30.01.2023 – Switzerland advocates a just solution to the Cyprus issue in the UN Security Council

Today, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus became independent. Following the outbreak of violence between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on the island, the UN Security Council dispatched UNFICYP in 1964. UNFICYP has thus been contributing to stabilisation on the ground for decades. A setback followed in 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island and began occupying it. Although a ceasefire was concluded, the country remains divided to this day, without a formal agreement. UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution.  The UN has also maintained political dialogue – for example on the Bürgenstock (2004), on Mont Pèlerin (2016) and in Crans-Montana (2017). Despite these efforts, a decisive breakthrough has so far failed to materialise.

UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution.
UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution. © Keystone

As a host for negotiations, Switzerland has thus been closely following the conflict in Cyprus for some time. It also provides financial support to institutions on the ground, such as the Committee for Missing Persons. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland has now participated in the negotiations to extend the UNFICYP mandate. In the UN Security Council, Switzerland advocates a lasting, comprehensive solution that is fair to both sides. According to UN Security Council resolutions, this solution should be founded on the principle of a federation consisting of two community-based zones. In particular, Switzerland supports the appointment of a UN envoy to closely accompany the process towards a just and lasting solution to the conflict. In addition, Switzerland continues to offer to host reunification talks.

25.01.2023 – International Criminal Court gives voice to victims and survivors in Sudan

At its meeting on 25 January 2023, the UN Security Council addressed the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, which remains unresolved to this day. In 2003, various ethnic groups in western Sudan had rebelled against the government of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown in 2019. In an attempt to quell these protests, some 300,000 civilians were killed and 2.5 million people displaced, according to UN figures. Shortly afterwards, the UN Security Council assessed the situation in Sudan as a threat to international peace and security. Conflict continues in the region to this day. 

In 2005, the Security Council mandated the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur in order to bring those responsible – including al-Bashir – to justice. "This trial gives a voice to the victims and survivors. It underlines once again the preventive and reconciliatory role of the ICC: the Court is a vector for peace and security and thus shares the core of the mandate of this Council," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council.

Flags of Sudan are held up in the air during a demonstration.
The situation in Sudan's Darfur region remains tense even after the fall of ex-president Omar al-Bashir, wanted for genocide, in 2019. © Keystone

Switzerland, together with Japan, is the focal point for issues concerning the ICC at the Security Council. The ICC is a central institution for dealing with violent conflict in order to promote the foundations for reconciliation and thus sustainable peace. This is why Switzerland was also instrumental in the creation of the ICC in 2001. "For the ICC to be able to exercise its mandate effectively, independently and impartially, it relies on the support of all of us. In this sense, we call on all member states of the United Nations to fulfil their cooperation obligations," Baeriswyl underlined. Switzerland is committed to an efficient interaction between the ICC and UN organs such as the Security Council, to bring justice to the victims of violent acts in conflict through criminal justice and to fight the impunity of perpetrators.

Statement by Switzerland before the UN Security Council on the ICC's engagement in Sudan, 25.01.2023

International criminal justice

13.01.2023 – Civilians in Ukraine pay a price that is far too high

The UN Security Council addressed the situation in Ukraine on 13 January. Switzerland marked its first Ukraine meeting as a Council member to once again strongly condemn Russia's military aggression against the Ukraine. It called on Russia to cease all hostilities and to immediately withdraw its troops.

Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl underlined the far-reaching consequences of repeated Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, including the disruption of vital facilities such as hospitals and water supply systems. The protection of civilians is one of Switzerland's priorities in the UN Security Council. " I reiterate today Switzerland's call for a halt to all attacks on civilians and persons hors de combat, on civilian property and on essential infrastructure", Baeriswyl stressed.

Efforts are needed to find peaceful, just and lasting solutions. In addition to its engagement at the diplomatic and multilateral levels, Switzerland is also working bilaterally to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. Switzerland stated in the Council it will continue its engagement directly in Ukraine. The engagement takes the form of contributions to partner organisations, the delivery of humanitarian goods such as mobile generators or heating equipment and through supporting the reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, which were launched in Lugano in the summer of 2022.

"As members of this Council, it is our responsibility to do our utmost to ensure that this year is a year of just peace, in accordance with international law, in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world", Baeriswyl underlined in her vote.

Declaration by Switzerland at the UN Security Council, 13.01.2023

Ukraine news ticker, FDFA

12.01.2023 – Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of the UN Charter in the Security Council

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a UN Security Council ministerial debate on the rule of law in New York on 12 January.

In his address, the Mr Cassis called on UN member states to respect international law and adhere to the principles of the UN Charter. The Charter prohibits the threat or use of force targeted at the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. "The principles of the Charter are being put to the test today. They have been flagrantly violated in the case of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine," Mr Cassis stressed at the Council.

He continued: "The work of international bodies such as the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court and the various UN investigation and fact-finding mechanisms is of great importance. It is crucial that all states, as well as the Security Council, cooperate fully with these bodies." Switzerland will work towards further strengthening rule of law during its tenure in the Security Council.

Mr Cassis took part in the debate on the rule of law at the invitation of Japan. Like Switzerland, Japan is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning of the year. It holds the presidency of the Council in January.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of the UN Charter in the Security Council, press release, 12.01.2023

Address by Federal Councillor Cassis at the UN Security Council, 12.01.2023

09.01.2023 – UN Security Council renews cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria

On 9 January 2023, the United Nations Security Council extended unanimously the mandate for cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria until 10 July. Together with Brazil, Switzerland introduced the respective resolution in the Security Council as co-penholder of the Syria humanitarian file.

The cross-border resolution allows UN agencies to provide humanitarian aid in north-western Syria, where more than 4 million people depend on it. Most live in camps or temporary shelters. Each month, around 800 lorries cross the Bab-al Hawa border from Turkey into Syria to deliver humanitarian goods. The cross-border humanitarian aid encompasses food, assistance regarding emergency shelters, education, the protection of the civilian population, and health, as well as equipment required to provide water and sanitation. 

Children walk through the snow in a camp for internally displaced people.
Winter can be harsh in a camp for internally displaced people in the town of Selkin in northwestern Syria. © OCHA/Ali Haj Suleiman

With the Syria file, Switzerland has taken on a crucial Security Council dossier. Council members have long held divergent views on the issue of humanitarian aid on the ground. After the last attempt to extend the mandate in July 2022 failed due to a veto, a compromise was reached to extend the mechanism by six-months. The council once again extended unanimously the mandate for a six months period. The Council's cross-border resolution has enabled the delivery of humanitarian aid across the border into Syria since 2014. The Council has renewed it since it was first adopted.

UN Security Council renews cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria, press release, 09.01.2023

Interview on Switzerland's engagement in Syria

Declaration by Switzerland in the UN Security Council

03.01.2023 – Switzerland takes its seat on the UN Security Council

Today, Switzerland took up its work in the UN Security Council. Activities are already in full swing in Bern and at the mission in New York. Currently, the focus of the staff is on preparations for the upcoming Security Council meetings on the situation in Syria and West Africa, as well as reporting to the Federal Council and Parliament.

Especially in the current global context with its various crises, membership of the Security Council is an important opportunity. The UN Security Council has a significant role to play for peace in the world. In addition to the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the USA and the United Kingdom), the following ten states are non-permanent members in 2023: Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta and Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Speech Pascale Baeriswyl, 03.01.202

Switzerland takes its seat on the UN Security Council, Press release 03.01.2023

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