Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA

"The founding of the UN gave hope to the world after World War II"

In two interviews with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) and the Tribune de Genève (TdG), Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis talks about the significance of the UN in the 75 years since its foundation, about the role as well as the influence of Switzerland and how COVID-19 has changed international cooperation.

 Photomontage with Ignazio Cassis looking into the camera and two speech bubble icons with question marks and answer to represent an interview.

In interviews with the NZZ and the TdG, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis talks about the importance of the UN and the role of international Switzerland. © FDFA

On June 26, 2020, the UN Charter will celebrate its 75th anniversary. A long time during which much has happened. The UN from back then cannot be compared to the UN of today. And yet the United Nations continues to be very important, as Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis emphasises in two interviews with the NZZ and the TdG: "The UN plays a central role for our world order. The weaker the UN is, the more we must fear possible wars."

Current international tensions, such as between the USA and China, show that there is a concern in society about whether the development of security and peace of recent years will continue. "When the United Nations was founded, it symbolised the rebirth of hope, joy and peace. The founding of the UN gave hope to the world again after the Second World War," Ignazio Cassis stresses in an interview with Tribune de Genève.

If one is afraid, we first protect our own children. Countries are no different than humans in that respect.

First comes isolation, then cooperation

Although the world of 1945 cannot be compared with the world of 2020, the UN as a multilateral organization is as important today as it was 75 years ago. Especially the current COVID pandemic underlines how relevant a multilateral system is for dealing with global crises. Even though, at the beginning of the crisis, every country looked for itself. "That is human. If one is afraid, we first protect our own children. Countries are no different than humans in that respect than people who first hoarded toilet paper when the COVID crisis broke," explains Federal Councillor Cassis.

Nevertheless, in an interview with the NZZ, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs expresses his satisfaction with the cooperation with European countries in recent weeks and months. "At the beginning, many states indeed closed their doors and thought only about themselves. This phase lasted about ten days. After that the countries in Europe realised that they are dependent on each other to protect their people. From that point on, the cooperation was more intense than at any other time."

Especially the current difficult situation offers Switzerland a good opportunity to play its role as a mediator.

Swiss candidacy for the UN Security Council

COVID has once again shown how interconnected our world is, how important coordinated reactions are if we want to overcome global crises. With this in mind, Switzerland has been committed to a strong UN for decades and is, among other things, a running candidate for the UN Security Council 2023/2024: "The current difficult situation in particular offers Switzerland a good opportunity to play out its role as a mediator. We are neutral, do not belong to any alliance and can build bridges with our good offices," explains Ignazio Cassis.

For the Federal Council, holding a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council does not conflict with Switzerland's neutrality policy - on the contrary: "We will never be the strongest. The best way to preserve our independence is to participate in committees and thus make the international community respect our independence".

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