Welcome to the United Nations

‘To each his own’ not a viable alternative in a world facing shared challenges, Swiss President says

With the world facing complex challenges such as climate change, humanitarian disasters and migration, all spanning geographical borders and requiring collective efforts to effectively address, the President of Switzerland told delegations in the General Assembly today that a strong multilateral system centered on a strong United Nations must be established.

“We need a strong United Nations and the fact that we need to repeat this today should set the alarm bells ringing,” stressed Doris Leuthard in her address to the Assembly’s annual general debate, noting at the same time that it is important to recognize the milestones UN Member States have achieved in tackling global challenges, coming together to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The success of those efforts will depend on how well those instruments are implemented,” she said, also welcoming reforms outlined by the Secretary-General in the areas of peace and security, development and management, expressing particular support for the priority placed on prevention, as the price to pay for conflict in humanitarian, economic and financial terms was much higher than the costs of prevention activities.

Citing the migration crisis in Europe as a challenge requiring cooperation, she stressed: “We need solutions based on solidarity between countries. All countries must do their part.” Turning to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, she said Switzerland is committed to non-proliferation and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. “Only negotiations and a diplomatic process will make it possible to find a solution to the security problem posed by the nuclear crisis in the Korean Peninsula,” she added.

On other pressing issues, Ms. Leuthard said access to the Internet, the impact of digitization on sustainable development and cybersecurity must be addressed hand in hand. In addition dialogue is essential and must be conducted on large scale and include all relevant parties. Yet, political dialogue has proven insufficient on the issue of climate change. “The Paris Agreement must be quickly implemented,” she said, noting the importance of the private sector’s role in devising solutions.

Indeed, scientific diplomacy has allowed for making the correct decisions, and politicians must base their decisions on evidence-based policy, she said, convinced of need invest in effective multilateral system. “To each his own is not a viable alternative,” she asserted.

Prince Albert II of the Principality of Monaco addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Also addressing the Assembly, Albert, II, Prince of Monaco, said the international community could not fail to act in the face of global threats, including the nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula, and must deter those who expose humankind to disaster. Monaco lent its support to collective action for peace and security, he said, noting his country’s membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.

“Working to stop mass suffering is imperative,” he said, expressing support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic.

He went on to say that famine in Africa, largely exacerbated by war, has become a humanitarian disaster. Through work with various international organizations and the development of its own strategic plan for public assistance, Monaco is working to guarantee food security and fight corruption. Key to those ideals is the fight against impunity, and his country was committed to respect for justice and peace. Attacks claiming innocent lives affected all of us, regardless of where they took place, he noted.

Climate change remains an imminent threat to humankind, he said. Recent natural hazards put into focus the importance of the Paris Agreement and the need to adapt, he continued, stressing that a change in lifestyle is “long overdue.” Calling attention to “glaring inequalities,” he urged moving forward with a resolve to eliminate sexual exploitation, pointing out that that included those abuses in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Recalling Monaco had presented its first report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to the high-level political forum in the summer, he said Goal 14 on aquatic marine life was of particular importance to his country.

“Our ability to save the ocean from its gradual decline will enable us to save our planet,” he said. In that regard, he outlined Monaco’s various activities on the safeguarding of marine protected areas and other related issues. He concluded by emphasizing that science should guide all States as they worked towards a better world.