UN Charter turns 75: Ignazio Cassis highlights role of multilateralism in addressing global crises

Press release, 10.06.2020

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis took part today in a virtual panel discussion of the Forum of Small States together with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and other high-ranking officials. The debate focused on the challenges facing the United Nations 75 years after its creation. The current COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the importance of multilateralism in overcoming global crises.

The UN Charter will celebrate its 75th anniversary on 26 June 2020. To mark the occasion, the Forum of Small States put together a panel to discuss the current challenges facing the UN and measures to address them. "The UN today is very different to the organisation that was founded in 1945. The world itself has changed. Over the past 75 years, the organisation has evolved alongside us, overcoming challenges and experiencing ups and downs. But its original values still hold true," Mr Cassis told the panel.

Multilateralism in the fight against COVID-19

The current pandemic underlines the importance of multilateralism in addressing global crises. "COVID-19 has shown us more clearly than ever before how interconnected our world is. We need a coordinated response in order to overcome such crises together. That is why Switzerland is committed to a strong UN system," said Cassis. This view was shared by former Irish president Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, who presented a report by the group on the role of multilateralism in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. In her speech she called on the UN to make a clear commitment to its values and to secure global order.

Pursuing UN reforms

Switzerland also has a strong interest in a rules-based international order and a UN system that is robust and forward-looking. During the panel discussion, Mr Cassis stressed the importance of continuing to uphold the responsibilities set out in the UN Charter and pressing on with the reforms that are already under way. "A global crisis can force the pace of change in such areas as digitalisation and emerging technologies. The UN and its member states need to embrace this crisis as an opportunity," said Cassis.

Also taking part in the virtual panel were UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the president of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

Forum of Small States
The Forum of Small States is an informal group within the UN framework that brings together around 100 countries with populations of under 10 million. It was founded in 1992 and is chaired by Singapore.

The Elders
The group was formed in 2007 at the suggestion of Nelson Mandela, musician Peter Gabriel and entrepreneur Richard Branson. It advocates peace, justice and respect for human rights.

Further information:

Address by the Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs