UN

Image of the flags of the United Nations member states flying in front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva in 2014
In front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, home to the United Nations, the flags of the 193 member states line the "Allée des drapeaux". © UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

With its 193 member states the United Nations Organization (UN) is the only organization capable of providing a forum that allows all the nations and actors on the world stage to come together to discuss the many issues of worldwide importance that arise. The UN is universal in a sense unmatched by any other organization, both in terms of the subjects it deals with, its members, its involvement in decision-making processes, in creating international norms and standards and its unrivalled international presence. Despite certain shortcomings, it enjoys a unique legitimacy throughout the world.

74th UN General Assembly

Flags of the UN member states in front of the UN Headquarters in New York.
End of September the 74th General Assembly begins in New York. © Keystone

This year’s priorities – human rights, UN reforms and science diplomacy – are in line with Switzerland’s two key strategic areas for its commitment to the UN for the period 2012-22: peace and security, and UN reform.

Dossier

The range of challenges facing the world, notably security, peace, combating poverty, promoting human rights as well as safeguarding natural resources, make Switzerland’s involvement in the United Nations indispensable. Since joining the UN in September 2002, Switzerland has been an active and innovative member. Membership offers Switzerland the opportunity to participate in the search for solutions to global problems and to accept its share of responsibility for exerting a positive influence on world affairs. However, the UN also offers Switzerland the ideal forum within which to represent its own national interests.

The focus of Switzerland's activities at the UN is in three areas:

  • Launching and supporting its own initiatives
  • Strengthening the presence of Swiss nationals at all levels of the organization
  • The day-to-day activities of Switzerland’s permanent missions to the UN (Geneva, New York, Vienna) and of Swiss delegates with the United Nations' special organizations and programmes (Rome, Paris, Nairobi)

Geneva is the main seat of the United Nations in Europe and, with New York, is one of the two major centres of multilateral cooperation. Despite Switzerland’s relatively small size, thanks to “International Geneva” the Confederation is able to “box above its weight” in the international arena, making it that much easier to achieve foreign policy objectives.

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