The Federal Council was briefed today on the outcome of the consultation of the foreign policy committees in the run-up to the 78th session of the UNGA. UNGA sessions run for one year – the 78th session from September 2023 to September 2024. The UNGA is the world's most broad-based platform for dialogue. 193 states are represented in it to discuss and find common solutions to global issues such as poverty reduction, respect for human rights, sustainable development, conflict resolution and the fight against climate change. Preparations for the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024 will also be on the agenda in the coming General Assembly year. Switzerland will work in the UN to achieve goals in all of these areas – to safeguard its interests and implement the foreign policy objectives defined by the Federal Council. From Switzerland's perspective, the key themes to be addressed in the upcoming session are the international financial architecture, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, international law and UN reforms.
Finance and taxation
In preparation for the UN Summit of the Future, the UN Secretary-General's proposals for reforms of the international financial architecture will be discussed. These include government debt and new indicators to measure prosperity. The UN General Assembly is also increasingly discussing international cooperation in tax matters. Switzerland considers it important not to duplicate existing structures and mechanisms (e.g. those of the OECD).
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The start of the 78th session of the UNGA also marks the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda. To take stock of progress to date, the Summit for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda (2023 SDG Summit) will be held during the opening week of the UNGA in September 2023. The goal is to identify areas where increased efforts are needed and generate new momentum for the implementation of the 17 SDGs. This is also important for Switzerland's sustainable development strategy. Various aspects of the 2030 Agenda, such as financing for development or pandemic prevention and control, will be discussed in high-level dialogues and summits during the 78th session of the UNGA.
International law is coming under increasing pressure around the world. Russia's military aggression against Ukraine has made this even clearer. The universality of human rights is also increasingly being called into question. As an internationally networked and export-oriented nation, Switzerland places international law at the heart of its international relations. It helps to create a secure legal framework and works to prevent the supremacy of 'might makes right'. Switzerland intends to participate in the debates on this issue.
The UN's role as an agent for peace is more important than ever in today's global context. But the UN must be capable of meeting current and future challenges. Periodic reforms are therefore necessary. The next steps in the reform process will also be discussed at the 78th session of the UNGA, with a view to expanding the UN's capacity to act, for example in the areas of data use and innovation. Switzerland sees a particular need for action in the secure use and collection of data, as well as potential in the application of strategic forecasts and digital tools.
Opening week of 78th UNGA
The 78th session of the UNGA will open, as it does every year, with a high-level week attended by over a hundred heads of state and government, as well as foreign ministers from around the world. The high-level week thus offers a unique opportunity for an exchange of views and for meetings with a wide range stakeholders.
President of the Confederation Alain Berset and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will represent Switzerland at several events during the opening week from 18 to 20 September in New York. Mr Berset will deliver Switzerland's official address at the opening of the general debate. He will also represent Switzerland at meetings to address vital issues such as health and sustainable development. These include the 2023 SDG Summit, which is only held every four years, and a high-level meeting on pandemic prevention. In addition, he will represent Switzerland at a UN Security Council debate on Ukraine which is scheduled for the opening week of the UNGA.
Mr Cassis will attend, among other events, a ministerial meeting on plastic pollution and a ministerial exchange on the reform of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. During his visit to New York, Mr Cassis will also address issues relating to the security of Ukraine's civilian population. In addition, Mr Cassis is expected to participate at a joint press stakeout by the foreign ministers of the ten non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, which will focus on enhancing the efficiency of the Council.
In New York, Mr Berset and Mr Cassis will also take the opportunity to hold bilateral talks with numerous heads of state and government and foreign ministers.
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