President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga and Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter represent Switzerland at the UN General Assembly and the summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York.
2030 Agenda Summit and UN General Assembly
Sunday, 20.09.2015 Thursday, 01.10.2015
Travel; Conference Assembly
Location: New York
The President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, represented Switzerland at the UN summit meeting from 25 to 27 September 2015 to adopt the sustainable development goals for the period to 2030. On 28 September, at the opening of the UN General Assembly, she presented Switzerland's priorities in the context of the UN for the coming year.
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will represent Switzerland during this ministerial week in New York at various events on current themes and will hold bilateral talks.
1 October 2015 – Security issues: closer coordination between the UN and OSCE
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter spoke on security issues at a number of events during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly. He called for the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to work together more closely on peace operations. Efforts must also be made to combat the illegal trade in small arms.
The UN has the greatest experience in conducting peace operations, with around 128,000 people currently deployed around the world, said Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter in New York. He went on to say that the OSCE also has considerable capabilities in promoting dialogue and confidence-building measures in conflict situations through civilian missions such as the OSCE observer mission to Ukraine. Federal Councillor Burkhalter therefore advocated closer exchange between the UN and the OSCE, stating that both organisations could make better use of past experience and that, as a regional body, the OSCE might provide stronger support to the UN in its commitment to peace and security.
Preventing the illegal trade in small arms is an important element of strengthening peace and security. Federal Councillor Burkhalter underlined that there are currently around 875 million small arms in circulation, posing a major threat to human life and to peace and security in many regions. Switzerland therefore supports the definition of internationally applicable regulations on trading in small arms. These might also be incorporated into the Arms Trade Treaty, ATT. Furthermore, in a number of countries Switzerland supports projects to reduce the number of small arms, and will also pursue this aim as part of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Address by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter (Ministerial event on "OSCE Peace Operations" on the margins of the High-Level Segment of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly), 1 October 2015
Address by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter (Meeting on a Code of Conduct for the exercise of the power of veto in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, organised by Liechtenstein), 1 October 2015
30 September 2015 – UN Security Council debate on ways of resolving the Syria conflict
Aspects of migration and the issue of refugees were focal issues at a number of events held in conjunction with the UN General Assembly where Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter took the floor. A debate at the UN Security Council also covered efforts to combat the causes of flight from Syria in the context of the present crisis and measures to reach a political solution to the conflict.
In the UN Security Council debate on the situation in Syria, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter stressed that a swift response to the huge movements of refugees caused by the crisis in Syria was imperative. In particular this meant providing humanitarian aid, he said, while other measures would be needed to prevent the spread of international terrorism. However, ending the violence which had plunged the region into chaos had to be the top priority. "It is time to take action,” Mr Burkhalter declared.
Federal Councillor Burkhalter specifically called for the launch of a national dialogue and underlined Switzerland's readiness to continue supporting the efforts of the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to find a political solution to the conflict. He also suggested that a contact group comprising national and international actors should monitor the development of attempts to reach a political solution and coordinate specific measures. Federal Councillor Burkhalter added that a comprehensive dialogue would be needed to stabilise the situation in Iraq and resolve the conflicts in Yemen and Libya, and he emphasised that Switzerland would be ready, if asked, to lend its expertise to efforts to find political solutions.
Effective anti-terrorism measures would also be decisive for restoring peace and security to the region. In this connection, Federal Councillor Burkhalter called on the UN Security Council to coordinate the measures taken by the various actors.
Address by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter (Security Council: Open Debate, Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Settlement of Conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and Countering the Terrorist Threat in the Region) , 30 September 2015
29 September 2015 – Strengthening human rights; abolishing the death penalty
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter made statements on human rights-related issues at two events during the high-level UN General Assembly week.
Switzerland is committed to ensuring that the death penalty is abolished around the world by 2025. This commitment is a Swiss foreign policy priority, Federal Councillor Burkhalter emphasised at a side event to the UN General Assembly focusing on the situation and views of victims' families. Many of these families would not demand the death penalty, he said, but rather would show forgiveness and empathy.
Strengthening human rights was also the subject of a panel discussion on the role of the UN Security Council organised by Germany and Jordan. At the event, alongside its responsibility for upholding peace and security, Federal Councillor Burkhalter urged the Security Council to take a more active role in promoting human rights. Human rights violations should be rigorously prosecuted, for example.
Address by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter on the occasion of the Informal Ministerial-Level Meeting on the Syria Crisis: "Re-thinking the international response to the biggest crisis of our times – how to respond better to growing and evolving needs", 30 September 2015
Bilateral meetings on the margins of the UN General Assembly
The presence of many members of foreign governments offers Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter the opportunity to establish new contacts and strengthen existing bilateral relations.
In addition to participating in a variety of events being held in connection with the 70th regular session of the UN General assembly, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is also using his stay in New York to hold bilateral talks with representatives of UN member states and a range of organisations.
While in New York, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter met the Russian and Iranian foreign ministers, among others, and discussed the quest for a political solution to the war in Syria and to the situation in Ukraine. Regarding Syria, Mr Burkhalter underscored the need to set up a contact group comprising representatives of a number of international powers (Russia and the United States) and of some regional powers (particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia). With respect to the situation in Ukraine, Mr Burkhalter welcomed the recent weapons withdrawal agreement and indicated that in his view the OSCE ought to be entrusted with verifying its implementation.
At his meeting with the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mr Burkhalter said that he saw relations between the two countries entering a new phase following the signing of the nuclear agreement. He explained Switzerland's desire to open a wide-ranging dialogue with the Iranians, stressing the need to talk above all about economic and human rights issues. The two ministers also discussed the situation in Syria.
29 September 2015 – Prevention and cooperation against extremism
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter has emphasised the importance of prevention to counter the appeal of violent extremism.
Security issues were the central topic at a variety of events that Federal Councillor Burkhalter attended on Tuesday as part of the high-level week of the UN General Assembly.
28 September 2015 – Opening of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York
The 70th session of the UN General Assembly will begin on 28 September with what is known as a high-level week in New York attended by numerous heads of state and government as well as ministers of the UN member states. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Sommaruga, and Federal Councillor Burkhalter will represent Switzerland at the UN summit meeting.
The Assembly is being held at a time marked by numerous crises throughout the world, in the most troubled period the world has known since the Second World War. Stop the war in Syria, respond to immediate humanitarian needs created by the crisis in the region, introduce long-term prevention measures and make a case for a reform of the UN in order to serve the international community – these are the priorities which Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will be speaking out in favour of at the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly.
The head of the FDFA will speak at about 15 meetings between now and Thursday on topics relating to security, combating violent extremism, migration issues, climate change and the fight against the death penalty.
26/27 September 2015 – Participation and equal opportunities: further efforts required
On the margins of the 2030 Agenda Summit, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Sommaruga, took part in discussions on how to promote equal opportunities and to involve the population in sustainable development. She called for a renewed commitment to both goals. “Without gender equality it will not be possible to end poverty everywhere, or bring about lasting economic progress», she stressed.
President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga has called for greater efforts to promote equal opportunities. The prevailing level of discrimination and violence against women and girls means that the result of the last twenty years cannot be seen as positive, explained President Sommaruga. By 2030, the world community must genuinely achieve equality between women and men, girls and boys. Switzerland therefore welcomes the fact that equality and the empowerment of women forms part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
President Sommaruga also took part in an event which discussed how to engage citizens more closely in implementing a sustainable development agenda.
25 September 2015 – Adoption of Sustainable Development Goals until 2030
The President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga described the 2030 Agenda as "an extremely promising approach to resolving numerous problems".
Over 150 heads of state and government adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the summit in New York. The agenda, comprising 17 goals and 169 targets, sets out the priority areas for sustainable development worldwide for the period to 2030. Switzerland was represented at the summit by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga.
Switzerland made a strong case for an ambitious 2030 Agenda and worked actively in particular for the inclusion of individual goals on water, health, gender equality, peace and the rule of law.