ALAIN BERSET, President of Switzerland, noting that the world is going through the most significant crisis since the Second World War, said that the Russian Federation, by launching a war of aggression against Ukraine, has attacked multilateral structures. It is the poorest and the most vulnerable States that would suffer most, if the competence of the international community in the world system waivers, he added. Pointing to the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration, he stressed: “It is a key point in time to unify and strengthen the international community.
Turning to inequalities, he reported that in the past 20 years, the income gap between the 10 per cent of the richest and the 50 per cent of the poorest people has doubled. Moreover, inequalities today are as stark as they were at the beginning of the twentieth century — before the Second World War — he observed, noting that they affect the most vulnerable in societies. Recognizing that these vulnerabilities are a threat to Member States, both domestically and internationally, he recalled that for too long countries have believed that defending their interests and protecting the most vulnerable are two different things. “We know today that you can’t have one without the other,” he asserted.
He went on to say that prevention is the starting point for all peace efforts, while pointing out that inequalities in accessing food, health care and employment lead to conflicts. In this context, he spotlighted the role of multilateral institutions in protecting civilians in armed conflict, emphasizing: “It is not an option but an obligation of all parties to a conflict.” Recalling his recent visits to conflict-affected countries — Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia — he said that his contact with local people highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of conflicts and engaging women in conflict-prevention to ensure lasting peace. To this end, he reiterated Switzerland’s commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, while also underlining the importance of United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Further, he spotlighted the need for defending the mandate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), reaffirming his country’s support to that end. He emphasized that ICRC’s work is crucial for the protection of civilians. “The United Nations embodies institutionalized hope of a better world,” he stressed, noting that it is an “idealistic project”, born in a time of war, brutality and despair. This project is based on the belief, that cooperating at the international level is crucial and the world can only be better if people shoulder their responsibilities, he continued, adding: “Ultimately, what unites nations is much stronger than what separates them.” Noting that the General Assembly enables States to come together, he said that the Sustainable Development Goals Summit — held on 18 September — provided Member States with an opportunity to bring life into the Assembly’s agenda. “It is nothing less than our shared road map for a better future for us all,” he emphasized.
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