Jürg Lauber: «We represent clear values.»

Ambassador Jürg Lauber under discussion.
Ambassador Jürg Lauber © Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi

Interview with Ambassador Jürg Lauber, head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York.

Mr Lauber, the world faces many new challenges – new power relations, climate change and the migration crisis to name just a few. Is the UN well positioned to tackle these issues?

Over 70 years since its founding, the UN still enjoys unique legitimacy because almost every country is a member of the organisation and because of its broad mandate. Over the decades, the UN has also proved to be very adaptable. There is of course a need for reform but there are no real alternatives to the UN. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of 2016 are two examples of how states are addressing global challenges within the framework of the UN.

Where do you see Switzerland's specific role within the United Nations?

One of the advantages that makes Switzerland stand out is that it is not a member of any political group of states but it is nonetheless committed to the principle of universality. We represent clear values and priorities but take an independent position and have a receptive ear for all members. Our national experience has taught us the value of consensus and what we call concordance (consensual democracy). Because of this unique profile we are regularly called upon to act as a bridge builder and to facilitate breakthroughs in complex negotiations.
And we mustn't forget Switzerland's role as a host state. Geneva is not only the European seat of the United Nations, but is also the world's foremost centre for conducting international negotiations and finding solu-tions. The UN and its member states know and value Switzerland's services as a host country.

Switzerland has been active in the UN for 15 years. In which areas has Switzerland had a high profile? And are there areas where Switzerland ought to step up its involvement in the UN?

Switzerland is very active in the three main areas of the UN mandate – peace and security, sustainable de-velopment and humanitarian aid, and the rule of law and human rights – as well as in administrative and financial matters, and has time and again shown itself able to lead the way by example. In the field of peace and security, for example, Switzerland was one of the first states to consistently promote the concept of human security, which is centred on the individual and is also more comprehensive. We also played an essential role in the creation of the Human Rights Council, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year in Geneva. The Council contributes significantly to more effective protection of human rights.
Our candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2023/24 means that we want to step up our activities in the field of peace and security.

In your capacity as co-facilitator, you have been tasked, along with your Mexican counterpart, with develop-ing an international reference framework for the global coordination of migration. Is it a coincidence that the Swiss representative was selected for this task? And what specific contribution can Switzerland make to address this issue?

The fact that I have been entrusted with this task is above all an expression of the trust that Switzerland enjoys among the UN's member states. Under this particular mandate, Switzerland and Mexico are expected to help states reach agreement on a "Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration". Our experience as a bridge builder, which I mentioned earlier, will stand us in good stead in this endeavour. But it's also important that we are consistently able to apply, thanks to our own migration experts, creative proposals to overcome negotiation bottlenecks.