Switzerland seeks broad Security Council debates on North Korea issues

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Switzerland’s top envoy to the United Nations has pledged to work on narrowing gaps over contentious issues such as those related to North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as her country is set to serve as a new Security Council member from next month.

Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl said that Bern’s first participation in the council will not undermine its status as a neutral country, but will instead help coordinate intense debates regarding the impending issues.

“We will work hard on the basis of international law to find compromises,” Baeriswyl said, referring to how she will deal with the split in the Security Council over Pyongyang’s repeated test-firing of ballistic missiles in defiance of the body’s resolutions.

She noted that Switzerland has been vocal in condemning the isolated country’s actions, and “will work hard” to ensure North Korea complies with the resolutions against it over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Security Council, the main international body with authority over peace and security, has failed to take action over the ongoing war in Ukraine and North Korea’s weapons programs due mainly to the reluctance of Russia and China, both veto-wielding permanent members.

Acknowledging the divisions in the council, Baeriswyl said that her country would listen to what each side had to say and try to “find common ground.”

Switzerland has long pursued a policy of permanent neutrality in international affairs. The country joined the United Nations in 2002 following a referendum.

Noting the democratic mandate for Switzerland’s full membership in the United Nations, Baeriswyl made a case for Switzerland’s active participation.

“In turbulent times, like the current ones, I think, independent, neutral, impartial voices are even more important,” the envoy said.

Baeriswyl said that a neutral country could vote in favor of a resolution authorizing the use of force because its purpose would be to end a conflict.

She criticized Russia’s military aggressions in Ukraine, saying that Switzerland “has never been neutral” over violations of the U.N. Charter or international law.

Japan and Switzerland are among the countries that will join the Security Council as nonpermanent members for a two-year term starting in January.

Baeriswyl noted that the two countries share like-minded views on international law and the council’s working methods.

“I expect that we will have very many files where we can have a close cooperation,” she said.



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