Switzerland in the United Nations
The Switzerland is since September 10, 2002 a member of the United Nations . Numerous UN organizations had their headquarters in Switzerland for a long time, especially in Geneva . Switzerland remains neutral even as a UN member .
Switzerland as a UN host
The following United Nations organizations are currently based in Switzerland:
- European headquarters of the UN
- International Labor Organization (ILO)
- International Computing Center (ICC)
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Accession to the UN
A referendum is required for every participation of Switzerland in an international organization (Art. 141 Para. 1 lit. d No. 2 BV optional referendum ). Switzerland is the only country that has acceded to the United Nations by popular vote.
The first UN vote
On March 16, 1986, the Swiss people had to decide in a referendum whether Switzerland should join the UN. This vote was due to a federal decree of December 14, 1984. A referendum was compulsory because, according to the federal constitution , the decision was subject to the mandatory international treaty referendum . With a participation of 51% and a share of no of 75.7% (and a no of all stands) the proposal was rejected.
The Federal Council has been campaigning for Switzerland to join the UN since the late 1970s . In a letter handed over to the Federal Assembly in 1981 , the Federal Council listed the following pro-arguments:
- Normalization, consolidation and expansion of relations with the international community
- Have a say in important international problems
- As a jointly responsible person, Switzerland must not dispense with finding a solution
- more solidarity with the rest of the world
- accession is compatible with traditional neutrality
Many opponents of membership cited Switzerland's loss of traditional neutrality as the main argument. There was a fear that after joining the UN, Swiss soldiers could be used as blue helmets in foreign wars.
The second UN vote
On March 3, 2002, with a participation of 57.6%, UN membership was accepted with 54.6% yes-votes. In contrast to the first proposal, this was a popular initiative . Twelve cantons approved the bill, eleven rejected it.
Switzerland pays the UN a lot of money, but cannot have a say or help shape it.
The often mentioned “advantages” such as the right to co-decision and co-creation lose their effect in view of the strength of the five veto powers.
The contra argument from 1986, according to which Switzerland would have to send soldiers abroad when joining, had become obsolete, as this was already a reality with Switzerland's participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo ( Swisscoy ). Several referendums in 2001 had also shown a surprisingly clear approval of the Swiss for peacebuilding operations and the army in general.
Participation in the UN
In 1945, like the other states that remained neutral during World War II, Switzerland did not participate in the San Francisco Conference on the establishment of the UN.
However, from 1948 until it joined the UN in 2002, the Swiss Confederation was an observer at the main organs of the United Nations. She was also a member of all UN special organizations, many funds, programs and institutes.
Swiss people have been working in the Armistice Commission in Korea since 1953 (today five Swiss in the Joint Security Area ). They are also used as military observers or yellow hats in Egypt , the Congo , the Middle East , Cyprus , the Western Sahara and Namibia . Switzerland provided primarily personnel, material and financial aid, in particular through logistical support to improve transport and medical capacities.
In Kosovo, Switzerland was represented by Swisscoy , which provided logistical support for the Austrian battalion AUCON in the areas of warehouse construction / genius, catering, drinking water treatment, special transports and medical supplies.
In the field of environmental protection, Switzerland was a member of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) from 1996 to 1999 and was its presidency in 1997.
peace and security
In addition to the annual report in the 1st Committee of the General Assembly, Switzerland has signed and ratified all multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements available to it. Swiss experts have participated in numerous UNSCOM missions and in some cases led them. The AC-Laboratorium Spiez is one of the UN reference laboratories for chemical analyzes. Switzerland is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It is also inspected by their inspectors themselves. She works on the preparatory commission for the future organization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO) and provides a seismic station for their global monitoring system. She abstained from the vote of the UN General Assembly in 2016 on the opening of negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban , but takes part in them.
Around 35 Swiss nationals work for the UN in Georgia , Kosovo , the Middle East, the Congo and Ethiopia / Eritrea . The Swiss also often take on mediating tasks for the UN. Switzerland contributes financially to the topics of preventive diplomacy, the control of small arms and child soldiers. It is also often the host country of meetings in connection with the UN.
In connection with the fight against international terrorism, Switzerland contributed to the drafting of forty recommendations by the Working Group on “Financial Measures against Money Laundering” ( FATF ).
Development and humanitarian aid
Switzerland is one of the twelve most important donors of all UN development activities. Mainly
- the UNDP development program ,
- the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR ,
- the World Food Program WFP ,
- the UN Children's Fund and UNICEF
- the UN Population Fund UNFPA .
Switzerland is a party to all major international environmental agreements and is an active participant in their bodies. Mountain issues were included in the action plan ( Agenda 21 ) on the initiative of Switzerland .
The codification and development of international law are among the priority activities of Switzerland in the UN. It takes part in the negotiations of the 6th Commission of the General Assembly and has a say in the choice of topics that are the subject of codifications. With the initiative to further develop international law in matters of white-collar crime, corruption and money laundering, Switzerland wants to counter the accusation that it lacks international solidarity in this area. Switzerland can also boast of a tradition of great international lawyers that goes back to Emer de Vattel , one of the founders of international law.
Over the past 20 years, Switzerland has gradually ratified the most important conventions for the protection of human rights. She is a member of the Third Commission of the General Assembly in New York and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The latter can submit legal and political drafts on its own initiative. It sends observers to UN missions on site.
- Antoine Fleury / ASCH: United Nations (UN). In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
- Parliamentary archive on the subject of the UN (detailed dossier Switzerland - UN )
- Website of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA): Switzerland and the United Nations
- UN Message of the Federal Council to the People from 1981 (archive version) ( Memento from February 21, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF file; 722 kB)
- Diplomatic documents of Switzerland (DDS)
- Referendum of March 16, 1986 ( Federal Chancellery )
- Angelika Hardegger: The UN No from 1986: The "special case" in danger In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of March 20, 2017
- Template No. 338: Results in the Cantons, Federal Decree of December 14, 1984 on Switzerland's accession to the United Nations. Federal Chancellery , accessed on March 16, 2016 .
- Referendum of March 3, 2002 ( Federal Chancellery )
- Template No. 485, Results in the Cantons, Eidgenössische Volksinitiative 'for Switzerland's accession to the United Nations Organization (UN)'. Federal Chancellery , accessed on March 16, 2016 .
- Positions on the ban negotiations , with the result of the UN General Assembly's vote on December 23, 2016, ICAN website, accessed on May 28, 2017.