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Chicago, 21 May 2012 - Statement by Federal Counsellor Didier Burkhalter - Check against delivery
Mister Secretary General,
Heads of States and Heads of Governments,
Priority to international security for the period 2012 – 2015
One of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy is stability in Europe, in the regions close to Europe, and in the fragile regions of the world. We are calling for an integrated approach on the basis of human security in a broad sense; an approach that combines all the dimensions of international cooperation, activities to promote peace and the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and for international humanitarian law.
The Swiss Government has decided to increase its commitments in the area of international security during the coming years (2012 to 2015):
- By being available for mediation to avoid conflicts;
- By launching initiatives to promote international humanitarian law;
- By contributing to initatives for disarmament and non-proliferation;
- By strengthening the means for civilian actions to promote peace;
- By qualitatively improving as well as doubling the capacities for military peace keeping operations and for disaster relief operations.
Four commitments in four regions
With this perspective, Switzerland wants to continue its commitment in the frame-work of the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council that have contributed to stability and democratization in Europe.
Four concrete present and future commitments in four regions:
- Switzerland will pursue its particpation in NATO’s operation in Kosovo. Since 1999, we have been contributing to KFOR with a contingent of more than 200 persons. The stabilization of southeastern Europe is an ongoing process that must not be neglected.
- Switzerland wants to intensify its initiatives to promote development, democracy and human rights, which contribute to collective security. Today, this means in particular to contribute to reforms in North Africa: through an increased commitment to improve institutions, economic development, and the handling of migration flows, as well as to the reduction of poverty.
- Switzerland is also aware of the importance of sustainable help for Afghanistan. We have been part of the efforts of the international community in that region for thirty years. Our commitment in Afghanistan, notably to promote good governance and economic and social development will increase to more than 25 million dollars per year. In particular, we will raise our support to the “Law and Order Trust Fund” for the Afghan police by an additional one million dollars. Furthermore, we are calling for the OSCE’s capacity building efforts in Afghanistan to be strengthened.
- Switzerland is commited to humanitarian concerns. It is also for this reason that we are for nuclear disarmament and that we invite all countries to join this endeavor with determination. We also support the creation of a zone free of nuclear arms and of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. We are calling upon the countries assembled here to support the efforts of the Finnish facilitator in this regard.
Strengthening and flexibilization of Partnerships
We are convinced that, in the future, only strong partnerships will allow us to confront new threats.
Thus, we welcome the establishment of more flexible formats in the partnerships with NATO. These flexible formats can be utilized better to prevent and manage crises by institutionalizing a forum for dialogue between allies and partners. The existing partnerships preserve their utility, as is currently demonstrated by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, for example in the field of strengthening international humanitarian law.
Three areas as examples:
- Switzerland is working with the United States and the United Kingdom to promote standards of behavior to be respected by private security companies. We are seizing this opportunity to invite all States having not already done so, to support the Montreux Document.
- Moreover, in the wake of the 31st Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference, Switzerland is organizing an informal meeting in July to discuss possibilities to substantially improve the application of international humanitarian law. We are convinced that the application of humanitarian law is also a source of security. We invite the countries present here to join this process.
- Finally, a real will to cooperate between States and international organizations is necessary to improve our capacity to act and to anticipate dangers, for example in the area of cyber threats. Organizations like NATO and the OSCE are able to provide complementary responses. Switzerland will assume the presidency of the OSCE in 2014 and, in this frame-work, we want to make cooperation between institutions a real priority.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Each of us has a responsibility for the security of our fellow-citizens. All together we have a responsibility to mankind. It is in this spirit, with this conviction, and based on these values that Switzerland is ready to continue its commitment to cooperate in a targeted fashion to promote international security.
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
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