Switzerland & UN

If Switzerland is not a member of the UN, then why is it that whenever I hear a UN story on CBC, it’s either New York or “For CBC News, this is Lisa Schlein - in - Geneeeeeva” (I swear she says it like that)? I know it’s because it’s a neutral country, but still, isn’t that like holding a neighbourhood association meeting on the next block?

Switzerland is, and since 1815 has been a neutral country (long enough for some to count it as a “tradition”). Thus, although UN HQ is in NYC, a lot of organizations that have been subsumed into the UN (including the bits and pieces left over from the League of Nations, which was headquartered Over There), are in Geneva. Being a neutral nation, it is presumed that Switzerland will not bring pressure to bear, either on ambassadorial teams or permanent agency staffers, in favor of this or that faction.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

True and lest not forget while the Swiss are not members of the UN they are memebers of many of its organizations like, WHO, etc.

Also the Swiss were a memeber of the League of Nations the forerunner to the UN.

A quick check of my handy Inforamtion Please Almanac (a bit outdated, but I don’t think this info has changed much since 1997) indicates that Switzerland is indeed NOT part of the UN general assembly. Total list of UN organizations headquartered in Switzerland:

WTO: Geneva
International Labo Organization: Geneva
International Telecommunications Union: Geneva
Universal Postal Union: Berne
World Health Organization: Geneva
World Intellectual Property Organization: Geneva
World Meteorological Organization: Geneva

I have no idea if Switzerland actually * belongs * to these organizations, for all I know they just rent office space there. It could be that Switzerland belongs to these member organizations, and not the the UN itself. The charter may be written in such a way as to allow this, or it may not. As recently as 1994, Switzerland has had a refernedum on establishing a volunteer military, which would allow them to join the U.N. general assembly officially. It was soundly defeated.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

The Swiss are members of the organizations listed. You needn’t be a UN memeber to participate.

Jayron…are you saying that the reason the Swiss are not in the U.N. is because they have compulsory military service? Or did you imply something that I missed?

Having a military is a requirement for joining the UN?

I recall that the 1994 referendum was whether to allow Swiss military participation in UN peacekeeping missions.

You are right that it failed but I recall the popular vote was fairly evenly divided. Depending on the rules governing the referendum, a majority of the cantons (the Swiss equivalent of U.S. states) have to approve the resolution. This usually means that the rural conservative cantons overrule the more cosmopolitan urban cantons like Geneva, Berne and Zurich.

Also, Switzerland has a military and requires universal conscription of all Swiss males. At this point the conversation usually segues into a discussion of Swiss gun control and crime rates but that probably should take place on the Great Debates board.

Andrew Warinner

I thought that the reason the Swiss have not joined the U.N. is because a member of the U.N. can be required to contribute to U.N. military operations (not just peace-keeping - think Korean War). The Swiss have not joined, because they refuse to allow anyone else to tell them they must get involved in military operations - contrary to their conception of neutrality.

JTI seems to have hit the nail on the head, though in reality that rule is just on paper only.

So many cases of UN members refusing to abide by UN sanctions etc it’s laughable.

There has never been any UN policy requiring member nations to provide military forces. What happens is a member state (or states) seeks a UN resolution requesting military support and then the individual member nations are free to decide whether or not they wish to supply it. Obviously, the country that originally sought the resolution is usually willing to supply some of the troops to back it up.