What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?

In 2023 and 2024, Switzerland has a seat on the UN Security Council, where it is contributing its expertise in global peace and security to discussions and debates. In May 2023, Switzerland will hold the council presidency. Scroll the newsticker for background information about Switzerland's Security Council activities and statements.

Trucks loaded with UN humanitarian aid arrive at the “Bab el-Hawa" border crossing between Turkey and Syria after the devastating earthquake, Friday, 10 February 2023. © Keystone

The UN Security Council in brief

Composition of the UN Security Council 2023

The infographic shows the composition of the UN Security Council in 2023. The permanent 5 members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The elected 10: Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Composition of the UN Security Council in 2023. © FDFA

Switzerland's priorities and roles in the UN Security Council


On 31 August 2022, the Federal Council outlined four priorities for Switzerland's seat on the UN Security Council:

  1. Building sustainable peace
  2. Protecting civilians
  3. Enhancing effectiveness
  4. Addressing climate security

Switzerland strives for credible engagement in the Security Council across the full range of its agenda.

The Swiss priorities in detail

Roles of Switzerland

Lead / Penholderships:

  • Co-penholdership for Syria (humanitarian) with Brazil.
  • Co-penholdership for the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) jointly with Ghana 

Chair of subsidiary bodies: 

  • Chair of the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of North Korea 
  • Co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, with United Arab Emirates 
  • Co-Chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, jointly with the United Arab Emirates and Mozambique 
  • Focal Point on Hunger and Conflict, co-chaired with Brazil 
  • Focal Point on the International Criminal Court (ICC), jointly with Japan

27.03.2023 – Nord Stream Investigations

On 26 September 2022, the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were damaged by several explosive devices. The motive and authorship of the acts of sabotage remain unknown. On 27 March 2023, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution tabled by Russia calling for a UN investigation into the authorship of the acts of sabotage.

Map of the Baltic and North Seas showing the route of the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
The motive and authorship of the acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines remain unknown. © FDFA

In principle, UN investigations can add value, for example in the absence of credible national investigations by competent authorities. In this specific case, investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden are already under way. Switzerland considers it more appropriate to await the results of these investigations, while at the same time calling for a rapid clarification of the acts of sabotage. Switzerland has therefore abstained from voting.

22.03.2023 – Access to water must be guaranteed at all times, even in times of war

At the initiative of Switzerland and Mozambique – both elected members of the Council – the UN Security Council held an informal meeting on 22 March on the occasion of the World Water Day to discuss the protection of access to water and sanitation infrastructure in armed conflicts. This protection is a central pillar for the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. 

"Water is essential to all life on earth and access to water is a fundamental right. It must be guaranteed at all times, including in times of war", stressed Christian Frutiger, Deputy Director-General and Head of the SDC's Thematic Cooperation Division, representing Federal Councillor Cassis, at the Security Council. Despite existing obligations under international humanitarian law, which is also reflected in several Security Council resolutions, water facilities continue to be destroyed or damaged in armed conflicts.

Yemeni women and children wait to fill jerry cans with water from a spring.
As in other conflict regions around the world, a large proportion of the civilian population in Yemen suffers from a lack of basic services and resources - including lack of access to clean water. © Keystone

Today, some two billion people are at risk of water scarcity as a result of conflict. This not only results in a lack of water for people and agriculture, but also the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera due to poor hygiene. This is why Switzerland emphasised in the Council, that international humanitarian law must be respected and enforced everywhere and without fail. International humanitarian law fundamentally protects water infrastructure as a civilian object. It also prohibits attacking, destroying and rendering useless goods that are essential for the survival of the civilian population, such as drinking water supply facilities, water supplies and irrigation systems.

A functioning water infrastructure is also central to the consolidation of sustainable peace after hostilities. The absence of such structures prevents the resumption of economic and social activities in areas already severely affected by the war. This can result in a perpetuation of instability and a heightened risk that old tensions will flare up again. The meeting also highlighted the negative impact of climate change as an factor that further compounds the protection of water services and infrastructure in armed conflicts. This is why Switzerland also focused on the importance of prevention, reconstruction and the support of the international community for conflict-affected states and regions in its statement to the Security Council.

"The current challenges in terms of access, management and governance of water are manyfold and require multilateral solutions", Frutiger emphasised in New York. This is why Switzerland is committed to the permanent inclusion of this topic in the priorities of the UN.

Statement by Switzerland on the protection of access to water and sanitation in armed conflicts

Newsticker: Swiss participation at the UN Water Conference, 22-24 March 2023

Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace, SDC

16.03.2023 – UN Security Council extends UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

On 16 March, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for 12 months. As an elected member of the Council, Switzerland voted in favour of this resolution. UNAMA provides humanitarian assistance and good offices in Afghanistan, promotes and protects human rights, supports gender equality, and protects children affected by armed conflict. The mission is also mandated to promote development and governance in Afghanistan, including the rule of law. These are all issues that lie at the centre of Swiss foreign policy. On the ground, Switzerland is working with partner organisations such as the UN, the ICRC and NGOs to reduce human suffering.

The Security Council also unanimously adopted a resolution mandating an independent assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to ensure a coherent approach by political, humanitarian and development actors. A common political strategy is particularly important given the gravity of the situation. Switzerland expects the voices of women and civil society to be taken into account during this assessment.

In a barren mountainous landscape in Afghanistan, four girls and a boy walk along a ridge.
The future of Afghan society cannot overlook women and girls. In the UN Security Council, Switzerland demands their participation in public life and political processes. © Keystone

Afghanistan is confronted with numerous, mutually reinforcing crises that have plunged the country into deep insecurity. The fall of the government in summer 2021 has led to the further deterioration of the situation – especially for women and girls. The list of incidents of violence against women and girls is long. It includes murder, honour killings and forced marriages, among others. Their access to education and work is virtually non-existent, especially since the decrees imposed by the Taliban at the end of 2022, which further restrict the rights of women and girls. Switzerland is calling on the Taliban to reverse these decrees.

Switzerland welcomes the renewal of UNAMA's mandate, as its activities are vital for the Afghan people. Two thematic areas are central to Switzerland: On the one hand, the whole of Afghan society, especially women and girls as well as ethnic minorities, must be able to participate in public life without fear of reprisals. This is essential for economic and social development as well as for lasting peace in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the plight of the civilian population is immense. More than 28 million people in the country are dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival. What is needed are not only quick but also long-term solutions, especially for food insecurity. To ensure that these efforts are successful, the Taliban must recognise the key role of women in Afghan society, economy and politics.

Swiss statement in the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan are no longer allowed to work for NGOs – the FDFA is concerned about the situation

Afghanistan, SDC

15.03.2023 – Fragile peace in South Sudan: UN Security Council extends mandate of peacekeeping mission

On 15 March, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for another year by resolution. In the Security Council, Switzerland supported the renewal of the Mandate to ensure that the mission continues to be equipped for the challenges that lie ahead in the country. The mandate is in line with Switzerland’s priorities for the Council membership - namely protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and addressing climate security. After decades of conflict, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. When the new government collapsed in 2013, the young state fell into a spiral of civil war, which ended at the national level in 2018 with a peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the war and millions were displaced, over half of them women and children.

But the peace is fragile. The implementation of the peace agreement is slow. The formation of a transitional government in February 2020 only slightly accelerated this process. At the sub-national level, violence unfortunately remains a daily occurrence. "In order to reduce violence and strengthen peaceful coexistence, peace dialogues among the population are essential. In recent years, Switzerland has worked with the South Sudan Council of Churches to support such dialogue processes. UNMISS also promotes such dialogue," Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl mentioned at the UN Security Council. Next year, elections and the end of the transition period are coming up, which will bring further challenges.

A convoy of white armoured UN vehicles drives along a dusty road.
NMISS has a stabilising effect in South Sudan and is central to the implementation of the peace agreement and building democratic state institutions. © UN Photo

Driven by conflict and severe food insecurity, the country is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. "This crisis is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which further compounds the effects of the conflict. We encourage the South Sudanese government to address these challenges with the support of UNMISS," Baeriswyl underlined in New York. This is why, during the negotiations on the mandate, Switzerland also advocated for the UN Secretary-General to include a reference to the risks associated with the effects of climate change in his report on UNMISS to the Security Council. The mandate also now mentions the UNs goal of increasing the use of renewable energies in peace missions in order to ensure the responsible use of natural resources. As co-chair of the Council's informal expert group on climate and security, Switzerland also advocates for this issue at a broader level.

The tasks of UNMISS include the protection of civilians, logistical support for humanitarian aid, support for the implementation of the peace agreement, the promotion of international humanitarian law and the strengthening of human rights. 2023 will be an important year to prepare for the end of the transition phase.

A fragile peace, news article

UNMISS, Statement of Switzerland in the UN Security Council

07.03.2023 – Women play a key role in achieving sustainable peace

President Alain Berset also addressed the UN Security Council for the first time on 7 March as part of his participation in the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The topic of "Women, Peace and Security" was at the centre of the open debate of the Council. The President of the Confederation underlined the importance of women's participation in political decision-making and peace processes. In reference to his recent trip to Mozambique in February 2023, he said: "Women are committed to peace, both in their communities and at the national level. They contribute to building a just and equal political and economic future for their country."

President Alain Berset speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York.
President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset underlined the importance of women for sustainable peace in his speech at the UN Security Council. © UN

The agenda "Women, Peace and Security" was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2000: Resolution 1325 and its follow-up resolutions recognise the role of women in all efforts to achieve lasting peace and call for the protection of women's rights. Nevertheless, women often continue to be the first targets of violence, hate speech, threats, retaliation and sexual assault in conflict situations - such incidents are also increasingly taking place in the virtual space.

The implementation of the agenda still needs to be strengthened across the globe. Berset called on the Council to take concrete action to address these challenges: "Words must now be matched with concrete actions in terms of budget, personnel and policy. This is a prerequisite for women to be able to speak out and contribute to sustainable peace - safely, freely and without fear of reprisals."

Statement by President Berset at the UN Security Council

UN Commission on the Status of Women: Switzerland highlights importance of digitalisation for gender equality, press release, 06.03.2023

24.02.2023 – UN Security Council: Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of Geneva Conventions and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, took part in a high-level UN Security Council debate in New York on 24 February 2023. Mr Cassis called for the withdrawal of Russia's armed forces present on Ukraine's sovereign territory for a year and for respect of the Geneva Conventions. He also underscored Switzerland's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"After a year of war, we must combine our strengths, ideas and resources to restore a sense of security in Europe and ensure a return to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," said Mr Cassis before the Security Council.

As a permanently neutral country, Switzerland fully respects its obligations under the law of neutrality. It does not favour any of the belligerents militarily. Still, as Mr Cassis recalled, "neutrality does not mean indifference to violations of international law". He stressed that "Switzerland stands ready to bring all parties to the table in order to bolster respect for international humanitarian law and ultimately achieve peace."

Federal Councillor Cassis sits at a table and looks at a large screen showing a woman giving a speech.
During his stay in New York, Federal Councillor Cassis took part virtually in a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on the subject of Ukraine. © FDFA

23.02.2023 – UN General Assembly: Ignazio Cassis condemns Russian aggression and calls for path to lasting peace in Ukraine

Mr Cassis is at the United Nations headquarters in New York this weekend, one year after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. He is taking part in an emergency special session of the General Assembly, as well as in a Security Council debate. This serves as an occasion for him to reiterate Switzerland's strong condemnation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, still under way, and to call for an immediate end to the conflict and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's sovereign territory.

Federal Councillor Cassis stands at the lectern and speaks. The UN logo can be seen in the foreground.
Federal Councillor Cassis addresses the UN General Assembly. © FDFA

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by a large majority (141 votes), with Mr Cassis in attendance. The resolution calls on states and international organisations to strengthen their support for diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in keeping with the UN Charter, and on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

"With today's resolution, we are sending out a strong message of peace and respect for the principles that unite us," said Mr Cassis before the General Assembly. The new text calls on UN member states and international organisations to strengthen their support for peace. For Mr Cassis, who stressed his appeal to the entire international community "to work hand in hand towards a peaceful settlement of this conflict," it is a clear signal from the international community to Russia.

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Press release

14.02.2023 – Rising sea levels threaten world peace and security

"The facts are clear: our planet is getting warmer, causing water levels to rise and glaciers to melt. Switzerland is at the forefront of the latter phenomenon" said Thomas Gürber, FDFA deputy state secretary and head of the UN division at a meeting at the UN Security Council. Malta, which chairs the Security Council in February 2023, organised the debate.

Rising water levels and more frequent flooding due to climate change threaten infrastructure in coastal areas. In addition, agricultural production, food security and habitat are threatened by soil erosion and salinisation. As a result, some regions become uninhabitable, forcing millions of people to leave their region or country. This issue challenges the entire UN system and thus also the Security Council. "The Security Council has a key role to play. It must face one of the greatest contemporary risks for humanity," Thomas Gürber underlined.

Thomas Gürber speaks at the horseshoe-shaped table of the UN Security Council in New York
Thomas Gürber, Deputy State Secretary at the FDFA, speaks at the UN Security Council about the impact rising sea levels can have on international peace and security. © UNO

Displacements caused by rising sea levels have the potential to exacerbate conflicts between communities. Switzerland is working within the UN Security Council to counteract the negative effects of climate change on global peace and security. The deputy state secretary called on the Council increase the integration of the effects of climate change into its activities and into the mandates of peacekeeping missions.

"The impacts of climate change and sea level rise are already being felt today, in a differentiated fashion depending on the contexts," Gürber stressed in New York. Through its foreign policy , Switzerland has been active in this area for years. For example, it launched the Nansen Initiative together with Norway in 2012 and the Geneva-based "Platform on Displacement in the Context of Natural Disasters" in 2015. The aim of the latter is to improve protection for people who have to flee their country because of natural disasters and negative consequences of climate change.

Statement by Switzerland at the ministerial debate in the UN Security Council on sea-level rise, 14.02.2023

13.02.2023 – Switzerland calls in the UN Security Council for rapid humanitarian access to the civilian population in Syria after the earthquake

In its role as co-penholder in the UN Security Council for the humanitarian dossier on Syria, Switzerland, together with Brazil, has requested a meeting of the council in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey. This event also affected northern Syria, where the humanitarian situation was already extremely worrying prior to the earthquake. At the meeting, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed the Security Council on the situation in the earthquake zone and the humanitarian needs on the ground.

Following the meeting, during a press stakeout, Switzerland and Brazil jointly called on all stakeholders to provide rapid, unhindered and sustainable humanitarian access to the affected civilian population in Syria. To date, the UN - based on a UN Security Council resolution - has been able to provide cross-border aid to Syria only through the "Bab el Hawa" crossing. Switzerland and Brazil were encouraged by Syria's decision to open two more border crossings, as announced yesterday. They also took the opportunity to underline that should it be necessary, they remain ready to facilitate any decision in the Security Council.

Switzerland is in close contact with humanitarian actors on the ground as well as with the coordinating UN agency OCHA and other UN agencies. In its approach as co-penholder, it is guided by the assessments of these humanitarian actors. The focus is placed on the humanitarian needs of the affected civilian population.

Newsticker: Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

13.02.2023 – Protection, reintegration and education for children in armed conflicts

The UN Security Council addressed the situation of children in armed conflict on 13 February 2023. Violent conflicts have a catastrophic impact on children and young people across the globe. Millions of children and young people are affected and deprived of their future prospects.

The issue of children in armed conflicts is closely linked to two of the Swiss Security Council priorities including "protecting civilians" and "promoting sustainable peace". In the Council and through its foreign policy, Switzerland pursues three dimensions of action to mitigate the consequences of conflicts on children. "This Council has developed numerous tools to prevent grave violations. For these tools to maintain their deterrent effect, their independence, impartiality, and credibility must be preserved", said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council in New York.

African children with painted faces dance.
Former child soldiers perform a dance as part of a music therapy programme in Uganda. Psychosocial support is an important pillar in overcoming war trauma. © Keystone

First: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children are better protected in conflicts. One way it does this is by supporting a United Nations system that documents serious violations in armed conflicts. The UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict reviews these and makes recommendations for possible measures to better protect children. Secondly, for sustainable peace to have a chance, children must be reintegrated into society after their involvement in an armed conflict. Switzerland promotes the transition to civilian life. In addition to having a safe place to live, psychosocial support as well as educational and professional opportunities are key for concerned children. Thirdly: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that children and young people have access to education despite conflicts. Through education, children can realise their full potential, develop their skills and restore a sense of normality and security.

"By seeking to ensure that children have access to education and are reintegrated into society after a conflict, we are making an important contribution to lasting peace and prosperity," says Ambassador Simon Geissbühler, Head of the Peace and Human Rights Division at the FDFA

Missing out on school due to war, news article

09.02.2023 – Combating terrorism needs a holistic approach

On 9 February, the UN Security Council addressed the impact of terrorism on international peace and security. In the Council, Switzerland strongly condemned all forms of terrorist activity. This is because terrorism – particularly the Islamic State and sympathising groups in Africa and Central Asia – poses a threat both to individuals and to international stability, peace and prosperity. Terrorism knows no borders or nationalities and is a challenge that the international community must address together. However, this fight against terrorism must be conducted with the rule of law and human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected.

Switzerland, too, has not been spared acts of terrorism. This shows that the terrorist threat has become more diffuse in recent decades, especially in Europe. It now usually emanates from individual radicalised persons.

Concrete blocks block a street in the Swiss capital Bern. Behind them, a market is crowded with people.
Concrete blocks as protection against an attack with a vehicle also testify to the continuing global threat of terrorism at the traditional "Zibelemärit" in Bern. © Keystone

Every terrorist threat has its own root causes and its own dynamics of radicalisation and violence. To address this threat at its core and to be preventive, solutions need to be adapted to the specific context in the state concerned, taking into account the different needs of society to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism that can lead to terrorism. Women and youth can play an important role in this. "The fight against terrorism can only be successful if we look at the situation as a whole, taking into account all the factors that lead to radicalisation and violence. Thus, we can only succeed if we abide by the rule of law", underlined Riccarda Chanda, Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York, at the Security Council.

Statement by Switzerland on the threat to international peace and security posed by terrorism, UN Security Council, 09.02.2023

01.02.2023 – Peace and security for millions of people in West Africa and the Sahel

The mandate of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) conferred by the UN Security Council was extended for a further three years. It covers 16 countries in the region, where millions of people face multiple, complex challenges that pose a threat to regional security. The commitment of UNOWAS is therefore crucial.

As the lead country for this dossier together with Ghana ('co-penholders'), Switzerland is contributing its expertise to the debates in the Security Council. It has long worked for peace and development in the Sahel, pursuing the same goals as UNOWAS, including protecting civilians, promoting sustainable peace and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change on security in the region.

The cooperation between Switzerland and UNOWAS explained. (Video in French, subtitles in English)

A holistic approach is required for conflict prevention and promoting stability in the affected countries. Switzerland also represents this position in the Security Council as an actor on the ground. Central pillars of its work include climate security and the prevention of violent extremism.

Droughts or floods exacerbated by climate change threaten the livelihoods of many people and can forcibly displace them from their homes. This can further increase the potential for conflict. Switzerland also advocates in the Security Council that addressing these impacts be integrated into the solutions-based approach in the region. On the ground, Switzerland strengthens the resilience of the local population and works to preserve their natural resources. Switzerland is also committed to increasing the participation of women in political decision-making processes in the region.

The prevention of violent extremism is important for the sustainable security of the population in West Africa and the Sahel. In 2016, Switzerland, together with regional partners and UNOWAS, launched an initiative for regional talks on the prevention of violent extremism in Africa. Over 1,000 people regularly take part in this exchange. The focus is on approaches to prevention, networking of regional actors and positive alternatives to violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel. The next round of talks will take place in Dakar at the end of February 2023. Carol Mottet from the FDFA's Peace and Human Rights Division talks about the context in the following interview.

Interview: Switzerland and UNOWAS: a win-win partnership

30.01.2023 – Switzerland advocates a just solution to the Cyprus issue in the UN Security Council

Today, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus became independent. Following the outbreak of violence between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on the island, the UN Security Council dispatched UNFICYP in 1964. UNFICYP has thus been contributing to stabilisation on the ground for decades. A setback followed in 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island and began occupying it. Although a ceasefire was concluded, the country remains divided to this day, without a formal agreement. UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution.  The UN has also maintained political dialogue – for example on the Bürgenstock (2004), on Mont Pèlerin (2016) and in Crans-Montana (2017). Despite these efforts, a decisive breakthrough has so far failed to materialise.

UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution.
UNFICYP maintains a buffer zone between the troops of both camps. This is to create the conditions for a political solution. © Keystone

As a host for negotiations, Switzerland has thus been closely following the conflict in Cyprus for some time. It also provides financial support to institutions on the ground, such as the Committee for Missing Persons. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland has now participated in the negotiations to extend the UNFICYP mandate. In the UN Security Council, Switzerland advocates a lasting, comprehensive solution that is fair to both sides. According to UN Security Council resolutions, this solution should be founded on the principle of a federation consisting of two community-based zones. In particular, Switzerland supports the appointment of a UN envoy to closely accompany the process towards a just and lasting solution to the conflict. In addition, Switzerland continues to offer to host reunification talks.

25.01.2023 – International Criminal Court gives voice to victims and survivors in Sudan

At its meeting on 25 January 2023, the UN Security Council addressed the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, which remains unresolved to this day. In 2003, various ethnic groups in western Sudan had rebelled against the government of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown in 2019. In an attempt to quell these protests, some 300,000 civilians were killed and 2.5 million people displaced, according to UN figures. Shortly afterwards, the UN Security Council assessed the situation in Sudan as a threat to international peace and security. Conflict continues in the region to this day. 

In 2005, the Security Council mandated the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur in order to bring those responsible – including al-Bashir – to justice. "This trial gives a voice to the victims and survivors. It underlines once again the preventive and reconciliatory role of the ICC: the Court is a vector for peace and security and thus shares the core of the mandate of this Council," said Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl at the Security Council.

Flags of Sudan are held up in the air during a demonstration.
The situation in Sudan's Darfur region remains tense even after the fall of ex-president Omar al-Bashir, wanted for genocide, in 2019. © Keystone

Switzerland, together with Japan, is the focal point for issues concerning the ICC at the Security Council. The ICC is a central institution for dealing with violent conflict in order to promote the foundations for reconciliation and thus sustainable peace. This is why Switzerland was also instrumental in the creation of the ICC in 2001. "For the ICC to be able to exercise its mandate effectively, independently and impartially, it relies on the support of all of us. In this sense, we call on all member states of the United Nations to fulfil their cooperation obligations," Baeriswyl underlined. Switzerland is committed to an efficient interaction between the ICC and UN organs such as the Security Council, to bring justice to the victims of violent acts in conflict through criminal justice and to fight the impunity of perpetrators.

Statement by Switzerland before the UN Security Council on the ICC's engagement in Sudan, 25.01.2023

International criminal justice

13.01.2023 – Civilians in Ukraine pay a price that is far too high

The UN Security Council addressed the situation in Ukraine on 13 January. Switzerland marked its first Ukraine meeting as a Council member to once again strongly condemn Russia's military aggression against the Ukraine. It called on Russia to cease all hostilities and to immediately withdraw its troops.

Swiss UN Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl underlined the far-reaching consequences of repeated Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, including the disruption of vital facilities such as hospitals and water supply systems. The protection of civilians is one of Switzerland's priorities in the UN Security Council. " I reiterate today Switzerland's call for a halt to all attacks on civilians and persons hors de combat, on civilian property and on essential infrastructure", Baeriswyl stressed.

Efforts are needed to find peaceful, just and lasting solutions. In addition to its engagement at the diplomatic and multilateral levels, Switzerland is also working bilaterally to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. Switzerland stated in the Council it will continue its engagement directly in Ukraine. The engagement takes the form of contributions to partner organisations, the delivery of humanitarian goods such as mobile generators or heating equipment and through supporting the reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, which were launched in Lugano in the summer of 2022.

"As members of this Council, it is our responsibility to do our utmost to ensure that this year is a year of just peace, in accordance with international law, in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world", Baeriswyl underlined in her vote.

Declaration by Switzerland at the UN Security Council, 13.01.2023

Ukraine news ticker, FDFA

12.01.2023 – Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of the UN Charter in the Security Council

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part in a UN Security Council ministerial debate on the rule of law in New York on 12 January.

In his address, the Mr Cassis called on UN member states to respect international law and adhere to the principles of the UN Charter. The Charter prohibits the threat or use of force targeted at the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. "The principles of the Charter are being put to the test today. They have been flagrantly violated in the case of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine," Mr Cassis stressed at the Council.

He continued: "The work of international bodies such as the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court and the various UN investigation and fact-finding mechanisms is of great importance. It is crucial that all states, as well as the Security Council, cooperate fully with these bodies." Switzerland will work towards further strengthening rule of law during its tenure in the Security Council.

Mr Cassis took part in the debate on the rule of law at the invitation of Japan. Like Switzerland, Japan is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning of the year. It holds the presidency of the Council in January.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis calls for respect of the UN Charter in the Security Council, press release, 12.01.2023

Address by Federal Councillor Cassis at the UN Security Council, 12.01.2023

09.01.2023 – UN Security Council renews cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria

On 9 January 2023, the United Nations Security Council extended unanimously the mandate for cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria until 10 July. Together with Brazil, Switzerland introduced the respective resolution in the Security Council as co-penholder of the Syria humanitarian file.

The cross-border resolution allows UN agencies to provide humanitarian aid in north-western Syria, where more than 4 million people depend on it. Most live in camps or temporary shelters. Each month, around 800 lorries cross the Bab-al Hawa border from Turkey into Syria to deliver humanitarian goods. The cross-border humanitarian aid encompasses food, assistance regarding emergency shelters, education, the protection of the civilian population, and health, as well as equipment required to provide water and sanitation. 

Children walk through the snow in a camp for internally displaced people.
Winter can be harsh in a camp for internally displaced people in the town of Selkin in northwestern Syria. © OCHA/Ali Haj Suleiman

With the Syria file, Switzerland has taken on a crucial Security Council dossier. Council members have long held divergent views on the issue of humanitarian aid on the ground. After the last attempt to extend the mandate in July 2022 failed due to a veto, a compromise was reached to extend the mechanism by six-months. The council once again extended unanimously the mandate for a six months period. The Council's cross-border resolution has enabled the delivery of humanitarian aid across the border into Syria since 2014. The Council has renewed it since it was first adopted.

UN Security Council renews cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria, press release, 09.01.2023

Interview on Switzerland's engagement in Syria

Declaration by Switzerland in the UN Security Council

03.01.2023 – Switzerland takes its seat on the UN Security Council

Today, Switzerland took up its work in the UN Security Council. Activities are already in full swing in Bern and at the mission in New York. Currently, the focus of the staff is on preparations for the upcoming Security Council meetings on the situation in Syria and West Africa, as well as reporting to the Federal Council and Parliament.

Especially in the current global context with its various crises, membership of the Security Council is an important opportunity. The UN Security Council has a significant role to play for peace in the world. In addition to the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the USA and the United Kingdom), the following ten states are non-permanent members in 2023: Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta and Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Speech Pascale Baeriswyl, 03.01.202

Switzerland takes its seat on the UN Security Council, Press release 03.01.2023

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