Cassis introduces a traffic light system for inspection at the Security Council

Cassis introduces a traffic light system for inspection at the Security Council

It was done by Ignazio Cassis (61). On Thursday, the UN gave the green light to Swiss membership of the UN Security Council. After the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva, the foreign minister may once again celebrate political success. It allows the constant criticism against him, heard from the left, the right, or from his own ranks, to silence for a moment.

While adventurous cheers, there is nervousness behind the scenes. As Swiss diplomats step into new ground, sitting in a powerful body for two years on January 1, 2023. That is why the Cassis people have recently had numerous discussions with colleagues from countries such as Ireland and Norway about their experiences inside the organ.

Two Swiss EDA officials told SonntagsBlick there were two pitfalls in particular. First, there are pressure tests.

peer pressure

From day one, the delegation will likely have to defend itself against the massive influence of other members of the Security Council. Of the five superpowers, vetoing the flesh is apparently not primarily China and Russia, but three “like-minded states”: the US, Great Britain and France.

What is certain is that the head of the mission Pascale Baeriswyl (54) and her team of 25 will be constantly forced to refer to the position. In front of the world, the Security Council holds about 800 meetings a year – two to three a day – of which 150 are held in a large hall with the famous horseshoe formation. He gets down to business when voting on resolutions, which happens about fifty to seventy times a year. These are decisions that are binding under international law and are guaranteed to spark worldwide protests.

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The second major challenge is the relationship between emissaries in New York and their government. The FDFA knows that the Norwegians acted very autonomously and only on extremely rare occasions have they had to bridge the Oslo divergence.

Switzerland is already taking a stand

Cassis, on the other hand, seems to want to play it safe with his secretary of state and her staff: his administration has developed a traffic light system to easily regulate cooperation.

The green level relates to hassle-free decisions of a fundamental nature that the delegation can make itself. The orange level includes transactions where “New Yorkers” need approval from Bern. The red stage is a delicate matter where the Federal Council as a whole is taking the helm. One can imagine a war like the one in Ukraine on February 24.

Nervousness? uncharted territory? Flavio Milan, UN Head of Coordination for the Foreign Affairs Department, describes the situation more freely upon request: “The Mechanism, in principle, works no different than in other UN political bodies such as the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, where the process has been well established for years. . ” In addition, Switzerland, as a non-member of the Security Council, holds a permanent position. “Switzerland’s positions are generally known,” says Milan, so from that perspective, “it’s nothing fundamentally new.”

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«Bern instructions for all transactions»

Until now, the rule between Switzerland and its UN site is that a so-called request for instructions is sent to Bern before any decision is taken. All responsible administrative bodies are involved there before the New York mission receives instructions from the federal city.

According to Milan, this regime also applies to time in the Security Council. “The delegation in New York will never behave completely aloof,” she emphasizes. “Instructions are sent from Bern for all transactions.”

Regarding the traffic light system, it points to the November decision when the Federal Council identified the cases where it will take the helm as a whole. This should happen in three situations: when ministries disagree when a course is to be set with far-reaching consequences, such as in the case of military intervention, and when the matter is of great importance to domestic politics.

The question remains how Cassis will represent his people’s maneuvers in New York in front of parliament in the Federal Palace. The lively debate about the neutrality over the supply of weapons to Ukraine could only be the beginning.

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