The UN turns 75 – fostering international peace and prosperity since 1945

Local news, 26.06.2020

2020 is an eventful year for the UN, shaped by anniversaries and a global-dialogue initiative. Switzerland is applying for a Security Council seat.

United Nations Office at Geneva
United Nations Office at Geneva ©Embassy of Switzerland in Japan

This year, the UN is celebrating its 75th anniversary – at a time where the world faces many social, economic, and public health challenges. In times like these it is especially important for everyone to come together to discuss our priorities as a human family, and how we can build a better future for all. To give voice to the public and crowdsource priorities and solutions to the challenges we face, the UN has launched the largest ever global-dialogue initiative named “UN75 – 2020 and Beyond. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and foster small-, medium-, and large-scale exchanges and discussions on how to solve our world’s most pressing issues. The views and ideas of these get-togethers will be collected, featured on the initiative’s website, and presented to world leaders at the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary in September 2020.

75 years ago on June 26, 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco. Today, approximately 44,000 people work for the UN worldwide. The organization itself consists of numerous agencies, special programs, funds, and other affiliated entities, some of which also celebrate their anniversary this year: amongst others the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (70th anniversary), the landmark Beijing World Conference on Women (25th anniversary), the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (20th anniversary) that acknowledges the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls, and UN Women (10th anniversary). But 2020 entails even more significant milestones: the start of the decade of action and delivery for the Sustainable Development Goals, major conferences on climate change, biodiversity, nuclear non-proliferation, and health.

Switzerland, with its long-lasting neutrality, its commitment for multilateralism, and its culture of dialogue and consensus, has been serving as an important hub for the UN and other international organizations. The city of Geneva, which embodies these values, hosts the UN’s European headquarters – its second largest office site – several international organizations, and over 350 international NGOs. Due to this vast network, about two thirds of the UN’s global activities take place in Geneva. It is thus not surprising to hear that Switzerland had already collaborated with the UN prior to becoming an official member in 2002. As the first state to be granted observer status in the UN General Assembly in 1948, it has been involved in numerous UN specialized agencies and programs, has participated in special missions, and has provided experts, for instance, Swiss army personnel has been monitoring the ceasefire between North and South Korea by order of the UN since 1953.

Since 2011, Switzerland has been submitting its candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the term of 2023/2024 – seeking to play an even more active role in the UN’s addressing of today’s challenges and safeguarding of peace and international security. With its image as an independent country committed to humanitarian values and peace, its experience in mediation and good offices, and its credibility that resulted from its belief in talking and listening to everybody, Switzerland would focus on ensuring human rights and humanitarian international law and work towards reinforcing the conflict prevention and mediation capacities of the Security Council. The election will be held by the UN General Assembly with its 193 member states in New York in June 2022.

In an era shaped by complex global challenges, an organization like the UN remains crucial to safeguard peace and prosperity. We look forward to many more years with the UN – to achieve the goal of building a strong, united and better world.