UN day: Switzerland's UN mission in Vienna
While New York and Geneva are the first cities that come to mind when talking about the UN, Vienna is also home to one of the organisation's major offices globally. Switzerland's mission to the UN in Vienna focuses on health-centred drug policy, the fight against organised crime, the sustainable use of outer space and industrial development to combat poverty.
At the United Nations' office in Vienna, work focuses on international drug policy, the fight against corruption and the sustainable use of outer space. © Keystone
While the focus in New York is on the UN Security Council and the General Assembly and in Geneva on the Human Rights Council, the UN's office in Vienna is concerned with drug policy, the fight against organised crime, outer space issues and industrial development, among other things. Switzerland has a permanent mission in Vienna with a five-member team safeguarding Swiss interests at the UN there and playing an active role in multilateral negotiations.
Fighting drugs and crime
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) focuses on international drug policy, the fight against transnational organised crime, and related crimes such as human trafficking, drugs and arms trafficking, money laundering, and the corruption involved. Combating cybercrime has also become an important part of the UNODC's work.
The focus of Switzerland's engagement at the organisation is on international drug policy and fighting corruption. "Corruption undermines society and citizens' trust in the state. Its consequences are far-reaching, which is why it must be fought," explains Ambassador Raphael Nägeli, head of the Swiss mission in Vienna.
"Switzerland's international drug policy focuses on health concerns and respect for human rights. These principles are not always respected. But this is what we are working for day in and day out," says Jean-Marc Flükiger, deputy head of mission and head of its UN team.
Industrial development to combat poverty
Switzerland is actively involved in the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna. The organisation's goal is to achieve a world free from poverty and hunger by promoting and accelerating industrial development in developing and emerging countries. The focus is on sustainable industrialisation that improves the standard of living of the world's population while preserving the planet for future generations. "UNIDO is one of the few UN agencies that specialises in industrial development. That's where its added value lies, and that's why Switzerland supports it," says Amanda Szalczynski, political adviser on the UN team of the Vienna mission.
The goal of the UN in Vienna in this area is to strengthen international cooperation for the peaceful use of outer space. Through its engagement with the UN, Switzerland promotes long-term sustainable use of space through depoliticised space policy based on science. It is also tackling the treatment of space pollution and the international response to the threat of asteroids hitting the Earth.
"As a key location for science and innovation whose technology was already literally on the moon in 1969, Switzerland is a pioneer in the outer space sector. We have an interest in seeing space continue to be used peacefully," explains Sophia Schärer, political adviser on the mission's UN team.
Switzerland's UN profile
Switzerland has raised its profile within the UN since its accession in 2002. The country is known for its solid multilateral work and enjoys trust within the UN, where it demonstrates its drive to help forge the future. As a bridge-builder, it aims to mediate for global solutions. Switzerland takes on a range of roles at the UN, hosting many of its agencies while actively engaging as a member in the three core areas of UN action: peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. Switzerland advocates for reforms and effective multilateralism, brings human dignity to the fore, shows solidarity, and promotes dialogue and compromise; its work is impartial and pragmatic, thus creating added value. Switzerland pursues this approach at all major UN offices, be it in New York in the Security Council, in Geneva in the Human Rights Council or in Vienna as described above.