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Press release, 17.09.2021

In summer, the Federal Council set the priorities for the UN General Assembly. At its meeting of 17 September 2021, it was informed about the Foreign Affairs Committees’ consultation. The priorities are Switzerland's candidacy for the UN Security Council, sustainable development and dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and current cybersecurity and cybercrime processes within the UN. This includes bolstering International Geneva's role in the areas of cyber and digitalisation. Switzerland will be represented at the high-level opening of the UN General Assembly at the end of September in New York by President of the Confederation Parmelin and Federal Councillor Cassis, head of the FDFA. Pandemic-related restrictions will also apply to this year's event.

Switzerland’s three priorities for the UN General Assembly 76th session are the following:

- Promoting Switzerland's candidacy and preparing for a seat on the UN Security Council: In the year leading up to the elections, Switzerland's activities in the General Assembly (UNGA) should be used to highlight the country's proactive and constructive profile at the UN with a view to Security Council membership. For example, Switzerland will take the leading role in several areas including humanitarian work, budgeting and peacebuilding. The objective is to ensure that Switzerland is elected by the UNGA in June 2022 with a solid mandate.

- Sustainable development and dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: Switzerland is committed to ensuring that the UN can continue to work effectively despite the current pandemic. To this end, the UN's responses should be based on scientific evidence. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda also remains a key concern. During the UNGA's 76th session the focus will be on the sustainability of food systems, the availability of reliable data, and environmental aspects. Switzerland will also present its second national country report on its implementation of the 2030 Agenda in July 2022 in New York.

- Promoting a free, open and secure digital space: Switzerland plays an active role in the UN's processes on cybersecurity and cybercrime and promotes the application of international law in the digital space. It will also underline the key role played by International Geneva in the areas of cyber and digitalisation.

Switzerland will continue to work on all UN-related themes in addition to these three priorities so as to ensure that Swiss interests remain safeguarded. These topics include in particular the commitment to international law and specifically human rights as well as international humanitarian law, humanitarian affairs and sustainability and disarmament issues. Switzerland will also continue to play an active role in the ongoing UN reform process and in safeguarding the interests of International Geneva. All activities carried out by Switzerland are based on its foreign policy strategies, dispatches and guidelines.

Opening week still dominated by COVID-19

The UNGA's 76th session officially began on 14 September 2021 and will continue for one year. The high-level opening of the new UNGA is taking place from 20 to 24 September. Last year's opening was carried out entirely online; this year, several face-to-face meetings will be possible again.

President Parmelin and Federal Councillor Cassis will travel to New York to take part in a series of events, and use the opportunity to discuss a range of subjects with other heads of state and government and foreign ministers. Although some restrictions have been relaxed, this year's opening week remains far from “normal”. As last year, most events will be conducted in hybrid form or entirely online. President Parmelin and Federal Councillor Cassis will therefore, where necessary, also represent Switzerland virtually, such as in pre-recorded video statements or live appearances on virtual conference platforms.

In the run-up to the high-level week, on 18 September Federal Councillor Cassis will present the UN with an ephemeral environmentally friendly land art painting. On 21 September, President Parmelin will deliver Switzerland's official address at the general debate. The following evening, he will meet with his Senegalese and Costa Rican counterparts for a trilateral exchange on sustainable food systems before attending the UN Summit on Food Systems on 23 September. The UN Secretary-General has also requested Switzerland and Sweden to organise another conference on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen which will be chaired by Federal Councillor Cassis together with his Swedish counterpart. In addition, Federal Councillor Cassis will represent Switzerland also in a ministerial meeting on the peace process in Libya.

Further information:

76th UN General Assembly web dossier

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Last update 28.01.2022

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