Prof. Bianchi and Carla del Ponte analyse the small country’s big role.
The year 2012 marks the 10th Anniversary of Swiss membership in the United Nations. Speaking at a round table in Lugano co-organised by the Academic Platform Switzerland UN (APSUN), Andrea Bianchi, Professor of International Law, noted that the entry of Switzerland into the United Nations was an important political step in light of its fiercely defended neutrality. “Although it entered the UN at a difficult time, when the Security Council was being called into question over its ability to respond to threats to international peace and security, such as international terrorism, Switzerland stood out with credible positions and initiatives”, he said.
Professor Bianchi highlighted Switzerland’s work towards enhancing the transparency and fairness of targeted sanctions, and its contributions to the reform of the Security Council through the Small Five initiative. “Together with Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Jordan and Singapore, Switzerland has pushed for improving the working methods of the Security Council, by demanding more transparency and an enhanced dialogue with the General Assembly”, he said.
Carla del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia also said that Switzerland has been a positive force in the UN. She pointed out that Switzerland has a tradition of being attentive to international law and has an active role to play in the process of de-politicising international justice. On the other hand, she discussed the problems faced due to the makeup of the UN. “The political nature of the United Nations represents a significant challenge to the implementation of international justice”, she said. “The veto power within the Security Council and the politics within the budget commission can put the proper implementation of international justice at risk. Indeed, the running of a UN tribunal highly depends on the political attitude and contribution of member states.”
The conference was co-organised with Foraus, a Swiss think-thank on foreign policy. It took place at the University of Lugano on 22 May and was moderated by Reto Ceschi, a journalist with RSI, a major broadcasting company in Italian-speaking Switzerland.
The secretariat of APSUN is provided by the Graduate Institute. It promotes stronger ties between academia and international organisations. It is sponsored by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign affairs. APSUN holds conferences, organises lectures and presentations at universities, and provides awards for research on UN related topics.