Switzerland calls for a strong, modern and efficient UN system. This is crucial if the UN is to remain effective and capable of achieving its goals. It is in Switzerland's interests that the UN be able to fulfil its mandate. This is why Switzerland has for years supported UN reforms and made them a priority of its UN policy. In particular, it is working to ensure the implementation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres' current reform proposals, which were approved by the UN member states in 2018.
Ongoing UN reforms
The current UN reforms are focused on three areas:
Reform of the UN development system
The UN has reorganised its country teams and revised their funding practices in order to improve the effectiveness of development activities on the ground. It is in part thanks to Switzerland's efforts that the member states have been able to agree on the reform measures now underway in this complex area. The member states are now discussing the Secretary-General’s proposals for reorganising the regional level of the UN.
UN management reform
The UN has restructured its secretariat and simplified its budgetary practices in order to ensure that UN operations are more effective, efficient and responsive. Further reform projects will follow, including in the area of human resources.
Reform of the UN peace and security infrastructure
The UN has reorganized two departments: the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA; former Department of Political Affairs) and the Department of Peace Operations (DPO; former Department of Peacekeeping Operations). The two departments have now created a joint country division. Better coordination between the two departments is expected to enhance conflict prevention efforts. In addition, the area of peacebuilding will be strengthened. The overall aim is to bring lasting stability to countries emerging from armed conflict.
Further reform efforts
The UN is also engaged in further reform efforts in addition to the three reform tracks outlined above. Perhaps the best known is the reform of the Security Council. In addition, regular review and revitalisation processes are underway in the UN's various entities and programmes, including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council and UNESCO. Several UN organisations have made periodic reviews part of their mandate.
In recent years, Switzerland has consistently presented concrete proposals to advance UN reforms, for example to improve the Security Council's working methods and to strengthen conflict prevention mechanisms.
UN Security Council working methods
Since 2006, Switzerland has been actively engaged in efforts to improve the working methods of the UN Security Council. In line with the UN's 2005 World Summit outcome document, the aim is to adapt the Security Council's working methods so as to increase the involvement in its work of states, which are not members of the Council, enhance its accountability to the membership and increase the transparency of its work.
As coordinator of the group “Accountability, Coherence and Transparency” (ACT), Switzerland is actively engaged in improving the Council's working methods. ACT was established in May 2013 and builds on the work of a previous, smaller group of five countries (Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland) known as the “Small Five”. ACT comprises 25 countries from all regions of the world.
ACT recognises and commends efforts made by the Security Council to improve its working methods but notes that the implementation of measures adopted has often proven to be unsatisfactory or inconsistent. Additional measures are needed to enable the Security Council to carry out its mandate with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.