June 19, 2024

Presidency of the UN Security Council – Switzerland presides over the UN Security Council with unusual success – News


On May 1, Switzerland took over the presidency of the UN Security Council from Russia. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage. Advantage: Since Moscow has repeatedly pursued selfish interests, it has been criticized accordingly. The expectation that Switzerland would make things fairer was correspondingly high.

The disadvantage: some countries did not want to raise issues during the Russian presidency and postponed it until May. This month, which is already heavily loaded on the UNO calendar, is becoming more intense as a result.

honest broker

Presiding over the United Nations Security Council is not an opportunity for self-promotion. The presidency is a service function. Its purpose is to allow the Council to operate professionally, soberly and efficiently. Especially in light of the current geopolitical tensions.

The Presidency must act as an honest broker, involving all 15 members of the Security Council and communicating extensively and transparently – within the Council itself, with other UN Member States and with the public.

The range of topics in May was very wide – from Ukraine to South Sudan, from Syria to Myanmar, from the Gaza Strip to Yemen to the Sahel. Whether it was the chemical weapons, the blue helmets or the security of the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia. In the last minutes of the Swiss presidency, North Korea and its spy satellite project were still being discussed behind the scenes. All difficult topics.

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Neutrality does not matter

However, Switzerland has been spared two major potential confrontations: Because the Syrian regime has agreed to leave border crossings open to humanitarian aid in the north of the country for the time being, there has been no further discussion with Russia in the UN Security Council. And because Moscow agreed to extend the grain agreement allowing Ukrainian exports, the issue hasn’t led to a bitter dispute in the Security Council either.

What about Switzerland’s neutrality? He simply played no role during the month of the presidency. Switzerland’s conduct was not restricted in any way in any instance. It has made it clear from the outset that its behavior in the Security Council is not based on the positions of individual states, but rather on international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Switzerland has clearly done a good job with this.

Unspectacular, hassle-free, successful

Switzerland has managed to set some accents of its own: for example with a special session on sustainable peace, which was chaired by Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. Or another to protect the civilian population in conflict zones, for which Federal President Alain Berset traveled to New York. Defense Minister Viola Amherd also chaired a session on blue helmets.

The crucial factor here is that if the presidential country raises its own issues, then it must be those issues that the other 14 members of the Security Council consider important as well. This increases acceptance and global interest.

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All in all: Switzerland managed its presidency unspectacularly and without a hitch. That alone counts as a success for the UNO gearbox, which is currently rocking everywhere.

Freddy Gesteger

Diplomatic reporter

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Freddy Gesteiger is a diplomatic correspondent and deputy editor-in-chief at SRF Radio. Before he started working in radio, he was the foreign affairs editor at St. Galler Tagblatt, Middle East editor and correspondent for the newspaper Zeit in Paris, and editor-in-chief of Weltwoche.