Annan welcomes Swiss UN reform plans

Micheline Calmy-Rey (left) sees eye-to-eye with Kofi Annan on reform Keystone

Foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey says far-ranging reforms of the United Nations are in the interest of Switzerland and its human rights policies.

This content was published on June 28, 2005 - 18:45

She was speaking in New York following talks with the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan.

Calmy-Rey said Annan was grateful for Switzerland’s proposals to overhaul the world body, including the Security Council.

She said boosting the UN’s credibility was in the interest of Switzerland’s foreign policy which aims to promote human rights and international legal standards.

Last week the Swiss ambassador to the UN criticised a draft document on reform to be discussed by heads of state in September.

Switzerland has proposed limiting the veto right in the Security Council in cases of serious human rights violations. It calls for the creation of a new, permanent Human Rights Council to replace the current Commission on Human Rights.

Human rights, sanctions

The Swiss foreign ministry also wants to set up a pool of human rights observers who can be dispatched to conflict regions.

In addition Switzerland is in favour of tightening the sanctions regime in an effort to target political leaders rather than punishing the population.

Calmy-Rey said her discussions with Annan on Tuesday also focused on plans to extend the number of Security Council members from currently 15. But she added Switzerland had not yet made up its mind on which proposal to choose.

The foreign minister said Switzerland would shortly present a report to the UN General Assembly about Israel’s controversial security barrier in the occupied Palestinian territories.

She said Switzerland had tried to fulfil the mandate given by the UN last year, but declined to elaborate.

Meeting Rice

On Monday, Calmy-Rey met her United States counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, in Washington for talks on bilateral relations and human rights issues.

The Swiss government earlier this month decided to launch exploratory discussions aimed at concluding a free trade agreement with the US.

It was Calmy-Rey’s first official visit to Washington since she joined the Swiss cabinet in 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland’s reform plans for the UN include:

Limiting the veto right for members of the Security Council in cases of serious human rights violations, such as genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Replace the current Human Rights Commission with a permanent Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Creating a pool of human-rights observers for conflict regions.

Tightening the sanctions regime to target the political elite rather than the population.

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