“GLOBAL INTEREST IS A NATIONAL INTEREST” – Ban Ki-moon, 10th September 2012 in Geneva

On the occasion of the Swiss UN jubilee, Ronja Harder and Philine Frei attended the public conference entitled “The UN and Switzerland in a changing world” with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter at the University of Geneva, taking place on 10th September 2012.

Didier Burkhalter spoke about the importance of Swiss activities within the UN. To be present and very active in the UN system has allowed our country to reinforce our responsibility, sovereignty and solidarity. The foreign minister highlighted five values written down in the Federal Constitution, which influence our foreign relations, since “la politique étrangère, c’est à la fois une défense d’intérêts légitimes et la promotion de valeurs.” Notwithstanding the great efforts made during the last decade of membership, Mr. Burkhalter stressed that the work has been insufficient, drawing a metaphor with the hardworking bee. It would lie in our responsibility to continue the hard work, since nowadays, more than ever before, “les problèmes des autres sont aussi les nôtres“; our continued efforts will contribute to more stability, of which we as a nation will benefit as well, simultaneously reinforcing our security, our independence and our prosperity. Therefore, the motto of Switzerland’s foreign policy for the 21st century will naturally be: Neutrality, solidarity and responsibility. Mr. Burkhalter wrapped his speech up highlighting the triple action plan, further engagement for UN reforms and the fight for more security, the latter two being two sides of the same medal.

The Secretary-General reported on the achievements and the challenges of the United Nations, with special regards to Switzerland’s contributions and tasks. He spoke of the present as a global landscape full of uncertainties, being the time of rising unemployment, poverty and intolerance, as well as a rising of temperatures.

Mr. Ban encouraged the global community to engage for solutions to issues of the global community, but most importantly to be considerate of every citizen, to address the problems that “keep them up at night.” Also, he mentioned that the “majestic flight over the Alps” was a figurative fortification of his concerns about climate change and global warming, the beautiful journey over this landscape made it even more evident what mankind could lose if the issue is not handled appropriately.

Ban Ki-moon drew special attention to the needs of “countries in transition”. As an example, he spoke about the “first election in Egypt since 5000 years”.

Further on, he criticized that the “members of the UN have not been unified” in addressing the issue of Syria, he pointed out there was no other option than solving this issue through a political transition process.

Ban Ki-moon surprised the audience by giving part of his speech in French. After his speech, he took the time to answer several questions concerning the Millenium Development Goals, the critical situation in Syria as well as the Camp Ashraf/Camp Liberty issue.

During the applause for Ban Ki-moon, a few activists with yellow “Viva Ashraf” shirts stood up, holding placards saying “Liberty is Prison”, referring to Camp Liberty in Bagdad, Iraq, where members of the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) live.

After the event, the representatives from JUNES, YouthRep and GIMUN had the pleasure to attend an official reception at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

A video of the full conference at the University of Geneva, recorded by UNIGE and The Graduate Institute, both co-organizers of the conference can be found at:

https://mediaserver.unige.ch/media/2012/09/VN4-1b4c-2012-2013-C-09-10-B.mp4

The day after, on Tuesday, 11th September, Mr. Ban visited the Swiss parliament in Berne:

https://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/schweiz/ban-ki-moon-kam-sah-und-sagte-grueetschi-1.17591893 (Neue Züricher Zeitung)

https://www.tdg.ch/suisse/ban-kimoon-berne-dix-ans-suisse-onu/story/22989919 (Tribune de Genève)