Swiss hold their course at Human Rights Council

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter opens the 34th session of the Human Rights Council Frédéric Burnand/

Switzerland has continued to support resolutions that are critical of Israel at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) – unlike other European countries.

This content was published on March 27, 2017 - 14:37
Frédéric Burnand in Geneva,

Switzerland let its voice be heard at the council's 34th sessionExternal link, and it was not always singing from the same page as its European neighbours. This was the case for example with the resolutions adopted “on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”, as noted on the HRC agenda.

Switzerland adopted two of the four resolutions, citing respect for the Geneva Conventions, of which it is the depository state. Most other European states abstained, with Britain denouncing the fact that this issue was even on the agenda.

“This session has been effective and pragmatic, while we wait for Washington’s decision of principle on the modalities of [US] participation in the Human Rights Council,” said Valentin Zellweger, Swiss ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

The United States said it would monitor the main session of the HRC before deciding its relevant policies.

Death penalty

Among the 40 or so resolutions adopted, Switzerland supported in particular those initiating or extending an enquiry into serious violations and mass crimes committed in Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar and Bahrain.

Earlier this month, Switzerland’s ambassador to the United Nations criticised Bahrain during a speech addressing the HRC in Geneva. On March 20, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) summoned Switzerland’s ambassador to UAE to Abu Dhabi to answer for the Swiss criticism.

Switzerland’s other battle horse is abolishing or freezing the death penalty. It therefore appealed to Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and the Philippines to not reintroduce the death penalty or to not block a moratorium. 

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