Top UN official and Swiss Foreign Minister hail 10 years of Switzerland in the organisation.
From left: Ban Ki-moon, Darius Rochebin and Didier Burkhalter
Yesterday, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, and Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, spoke at an event co-organised by the Graduate Institute and the University of Geneva to a crowd of over 2000, including an exceptionally large number of students of the two institutions. The event entitled “The UN and Switzerland in a changing world” marked Switzerland’s entry into the United Nations ten years to the day. The distinguished guest speakers discussed how the United Nations is better off as an organisation with Switzerland as a member and how Switzerland can better defend its values, such as human rights and peace, inside of the forum.
“For the last ten years Switzerland has been the UN’s indispensable European partner”, Ban Ki-moon said. He added that the country has a key role to play in mediation, disarmament and other areas. “At a time when others are cutting aid, Switzerland is stepping up its commitment”. Commending Switzerland on its rich tradition of democracy, he pointed out that the country was the first to enter the UN by way of a popular vote.
On the conflict in Syria, Ban Ki-moon said that Swiss participation is essential to resolve the ongoing crisis. In the question and answer session following the official presentations moderated by Swiss television anchor Darius Rochebin, Ban Ki-moon said that those providing arms to either side are making it harder for the situation to be resolved diplomatically, which is the ideal outcome.
The event was webcast live on the Institute’s website and a full video is available here.
Text of Didier Burkhalter's speech
Text of Ban Ki-moon's speech