Anniversary of Switzerland joining the UN: official visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bern, 06.09.2012 - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will pay an official visit to Switzerland on 10 and 11 September, when Switzerland will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its membership of the United Nations. Mr Ban will meet the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, and Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the FDFA. Mr Ban will also speak before the Federal Assembly. This is a rare event.
Mr Ban will begin his official visit to Switzerland on Monday, 10 September 2012, in Geneva, where he will meet the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter. They will then both take part in a public conference organised by the University of Geneva and the Geneva Graduate Institute on the challenges facing the UN at the beginning of the 21st century. Switzerland's place in the organisation and its role in facing major international challenges will also be discussed at this conference. An official reception at the Palais de Nations organised by the Confederation will wind up the first day of the official visit.
At the reception, Mr Burkhalter will offer the UN Secretary-General a symbolic gift in the form of an apiary installed in the Parc de l’Ariana, the UN headquarters in Geneva. It will consist of 10 beehives decorated in the colours of Switzerland, each bearing an inscription focusing on a UN objective that also corresponds to the goals of Swiss foreign policy, for example, Peace, Human Rights and Humanitarian issues.
On 11 September, Mr Ban will visit Berne where in the morning he will be received by the presidents of the two chambers of the Federal Parliament, Hansjörg Walter, president of the National Council, and Hans Altherr, president of the Council of States. Mr Ban will then have the rare distinction of making a speech to the Federal Assembly in the margins of the autumn session of Parliament.
Mr Ban will then attend a working lunch together with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. This will also be attended by Federal Councillor Mrs Doris Leuthard and Mr Didier Burkhalter. Switzerland's priorities for the 67th UN General Assembly, cooperation between Switzerland and the UN, the role of international Geneva, and reforms to the UN system will be the main topics of the discussions. The official part of this visit to the federal capital will end with a press conference.
The visit by Mr Ban to mark the 10th anniversary of Switzerland's membership of the UN underlines the interest that he takes in the Confederation as a member state. The UN has its main headquarters in New York. It is a central actor in international political life and enjoys unrivalled legitimacy. It gives Switzerland an opportunity to contribute to the solution of global problems, to assume its share of responsibility, and to promote its national interests. Since it has become a full member, Switzerland has been recognised as an active and innovative member of the United Nations. Moreover, there is a close affinity between the UN and Switzerland because of Switzerland's status as the host country and the European headquarters of the UN and many UN specialised agencies in Geneva.
To mark the anniversary of membership, celebrations are also being planned in New York. The Swiss Mission to the United Nations will invite representatives of the UN member states, leading employees of the UN administration, and members of the Swiss community to a reception on 10 September. The guests of honour at this event will be the president of the current 66th UN General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson, and former Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss. Mr Deiss was chair of the previous 65th UN General Assembly (2010-11) and was head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in the year when Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations.
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