Switzerland’s top diplomat at the United Nations in New York, Pascale Baeriswyl, gives a largely positive assessment of the first four months of the country’s membership on the Security Council, over which she will preside throughout May.
In an interview published on Saturday in Tamedia newspapers, Baeriswyl listed a number of accomplishments since Switzerland took its non-permanent seat on the body last January. This includes keeping the border in northwestern Syria open for the arrival of humanitarian aid, on which millions of people currently depend following devastating earthquakes in February.
“We also extended the mandate for the UN office in the Sahel to help organise elections there,” the ambassador added. And, she said, it has been possible to integrate climate issues into peacekeeping mandates, including in South Sudan.
However, she noted that, since she became UN ambassador three years ago, “the risks have intensified, long before the flagrant violation of the UN Charter that was Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.” Among these risks are climate change and pandemics. The number of interconnected crises is on the rise, and armed conflicts tend to last longer, she added.
A ‘traditionally Swiss approach’ to mediation
“Faced with this dangerous mix, we must react,” said Baeriswyl. “We want to use our Council presidency to give impetus to a ‘New Agenda for Peace’ by drawing on our experiences in all regions of the world.” Switzerland will focus on the role of trust in peacebuilding and conflict prevention as it takes the rotating Council presidency next month for the first time.
"Our goal is to show that Switzerland is a credible, trustworthy and supportive player” in international diplomacy, she said, pointing out that the Alpine country is currently involved in some 20 peace processes around the world. The plan is to take a "traditionally Swiss" approach, she added: “[In other words], in the face of geopolitical tensions, we will strive to talk to everyone, all the time, to promote consensus, and to ensure fair processes for making decisions.”
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