(Joseph Deiss) – Published on Current Concerns, by ef, Issue No 19, november 2010.
The General Assembly was opened by this year’s president, the Swiss Joseph Deiss. Since the UN admission of Switzerland eight years ago, this is the first time that a Swiss politician is head of the formally highest office within the UN. Thus he has the possibility of lending importance to the UN on the basis of the Swiss understanding of the state. Switzerland – being a highly estimated country within the UN, a neutral state, which does not belong to any military alliance, a bridge builder and honest partner in negotiations, without any hidden agenda – is predestined to promote dialogue on an equal basis among the member states. Swiss direct democracy and its possibilities to solve social problems should be put on the agenda since it is as significant as the Swiss neutrality.
Switzerland could contribute with its experience in democratic processes and its culture of debate and consent. Swiss institutions could serve as models, Deiss said last week on the occasion of a meeting of the Fribourg Higher Council, whose member he had been for many years. Direct democracy worked satisfactorily as a peace model and could offer a guideline for many conflicts.
The slogan of Deiss’ inauguration speech to the General Assembly on 14 September was “The UN General Assembly – the pre-eminent forum for global debate”. Therein he stressed the equal rights of all states. He also wished that the General Assembly should have a greater importance: In accordance with the UN Charter it must become the most important forum for global debates. He made unmistakably clear that “There is no subject of concern to man and our planet which could be irrelevant to our debates” … (full text).