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Bern, Press release, 11.06.2010

Today in New York, the United Nations General Assembly has elected by acclamation Joseph Deiss to the office of President of the 65th Session of the General Assembly. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard, has congratulated Joseph Deiss in writing on behalf of the Federal Council, welcoming the election as a great honour for Switzerland. Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, speaking in New York, regards the election as a strong signal of the international community’s recognition of Switzerland’s commitment to the United Nations.

“On behalf of the Federal Council I congratulate you most sincerely on your election to the presidency of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly,” wrote the President of the Confederation, Doris Leuthard, in her letter to former Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss. She went on to say: “Your election is a great honour for Switzerland and an expression of appreciation of the personal commitment you showed by leading our country to UN membership  in 2002.”  

The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey, speaking in New York, declared: “This election, coming only eight years after Switzerland joined the UN in 2002, is recognition by the international community of Switzerland’s active commitment to the promotion of peace and security in the international community”.  

The presidency of the General Assembly, which together with the Security Council are the two most important bodies of the United Nations, is a demanding and prestigious office. Within the General Assembly it was the turn of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) to occupy the post of president of the 65th Session of the General Assembly. It elected Joseph Deiss as its official candidate last December in New York. Joseph Deiss was competing for the nomination against the former Belgian foreign minister and EU commissioner, Louis Michel, in the WEOG internal election process. 

Mr Deiss will take up his functions on 14 September 2010. One of the first highlights of his one-year term in office will be to chair the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals which takes place on 20-22 September 2010. On 23 September, he will open the Annual General Debate. Many heads of state and government will take part in these events.     

The president of the General Assembly is responsible for ensuring that its meetings run correctly and in an orderly fashion. He can exercise an influence on the General Assembly’s agenda. In addition, in the event of diverging views among the member states, he assumes the role of facilitator in the search for a consensus position. 

Joseph Deiss was President of the Swiss Confederation in 2004. As head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, he led the campaign for Switzerland’s membership of the United Nations. He subsequently went on to head the Federal Department of Economic Affairs from 2003 until his retirement in 2006.  

For further information:

Adrian Sollberger, media spokesman FDFA, +41 79 301 62 84
Johann Aeschlimann, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, +1 917 757 33 89

Further information:

Switzerland and the United Nations

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