Switzerland backs enlarged Security Council

Switzerland says the Security Council should not have more members with a right of veto Keystone

Switzerland has told the United Nations that it is in favour of expanding the Security Council and revitalising the General Assembly.

This content was published on April 27, 2005 - 21:56

Peter Maurer, Swiss ambassador to the world body in New York, said the emphasis in the current UN reform debate should be on implementation of the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration adopted by all member states in 2000.

These include eradication of poverty and hunger, primary education for all and promoting equality between men and women.

Maurer also said Switzerland "strongly supported" the establishment of a Human Rights Council in Geneva to replace the current commission.

"It is now up to member states to act," he said in a statement on Wednesday.


Commenting on the reform of the Security Council, he said Switzerland was in favour of its expansion.

"An enlarged council will be more representative of today’s world, and its legitimacy will be greater, which is in the interest of all."

"The criteria for enlargement should ensure better representation of the developing countries and take into account member states’ contributions to the efforts of the UN, notably with regard to peace operations, development aid and financing of the UN budget," he said.

But he added that enlargement should not benefit the bigger nations to the detriment of the others.

Maurer explained that Switzerland was against the creation of new veto rights because they would hinder the Security Council’s ability to act.

Reform and improve

"Enlargement is not enough, however. Efforts must at the same time be made to reform and improve the working methods of the Security Council."

Among these Maurer included accountability of the council towards the larger membership, more taking into account of different points of view, the possibility of all UN member states to take an active part in the decision-making process, more transparency, and an improvement in how the council communicated with the outside world.

Maurer called for reforms that would rationalise the work of the General Assembly, as well as speed up talks and simplify its agenda.

He argued that a priority was to "shift the focus of debates to major issues of the greatest priority".

Human Rights Council

Ambassador Maurer said Switzerland supported the creation of a Human Rights Council because such a body would make it possible to treat human rights at an institutional level appropriate to their importance for peace and security.

Switzerland, he said, intended to "engage actively" in the debate.

"It [the council] would take the form of a principal organ of the UN or a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.""For us, the most important point is that human rights should be treated at a higher institutional level than is currently the case," he explained.

It would have the status of a permanent body, be based in Geneva, and would meet several times a year.

"It would work closely with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, respecting their distinct roles, Maurer added.

On Monday, the Swiss envoy called for improved development aid within the framework of planned reforms of the world body.

Ambassador Maurer also urged industrialised nations to assume their financial responsibility, in a speech before the General Assembly.


Key facts

The United Nations has 191 member countries.

The Security Council is made up of 15 members. It has five permanent members - China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States - which can block any proposal brought before the council by casting a negative vote (veto).

The ten non-permanent members are periodically elected by all member states for a two-year term.

The General Assembly includes all 191 UN members and meets in regular session each year from September to December, and thereafter as required.

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In brief

Ambassador Peter Maurer says Switzerland supports expansion of the Security Council and a revitalisation of the UN General Assembly.

Additional members of the Security Council should not have the right of veto because this would hamper the council’s ability to act.

Switzerland wants the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to reaffirm and strengthen its role in the area of coordination and global development agenda setting.

Bern supports the creation of a Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, to replace the present commission.

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