Switzerland's priorities at the 72nd UN General Assembly

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Press releases, 19.09.2017

Building peace and security, especially by stepping up mediation capacity and conflict prevention, and strengthening the role of human rights are just two of the foreign policy priorities that Switzerland aims to implement during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter and FDFA State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl will represent Switzerland in New York from 18 September 2017 during the high-level week that coincides with the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Interior of the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York
United Nations General Assembly © Keystone/Jason Szenes © Keystone/Li Muzi

On 6 September, after consulting with the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committees, the Federal Council was informed about Switzerland's priorities for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, which are based on the two main strategic areas of Switzerland’s engagement at the United Nations for the 2012-22 period – peace and security, and reform of the UN.

Specific priorities include building peace and security, especially by stepping up mediation capacity and conflict prevention, and strengthening the role of human rights. In addition, Switzerland thoroughly supports the reform efforts proposed by the new UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which are vital in ensuring that the UN can continue to fulfil its important role efficiently and effectively. Switzerland is also committed to effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the drafting of the Global Compact for Migration, humanitarian topics and strengthening International Geneva.

The general debate of the 72nd General Assembly session begins on 19 September this year and runs until September next year. President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard will speak on behalf of Switzerland at the opening of the General Debate, where she will emphasise the importance of a strong UN in arriving at joint solutions to global challenges such as climate change, poverty, conflicts and migration.

During her stay in New York, Leuthard will also take part in the UN Private Sector Forum at which high-level representatives from the world of politics and business meet to discuss new forms of financing towards achieving the 2030 Agenda goals. She will also give a speech at Columbia University. 

During the same week, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will host an event on water cooperation and conflict prevention that has been co-organised by Switzerland. He will also take part at the launch of an initiative that aims to help states regulate the trade in goods which could be used for capital punishment and torture.

State Secretary Baeriswyl will co-host an event launching the Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies at which national strategies for achieving the sustainable development goal of “peace, justice and strong institutions” will be discussed.

Leuthard and Burkhalter will additionally take the opportunity to conduct a number of bilateral meetings during their visit to the high-level week in New York. Both will be back in Bern on 20 September 2017, when the United Federal Assembly votes on Didier Burkhalter’s successor as federal councillor.