||Responses posted on
Staehelin, do you think that the United Nations should put trade sanctions
on a country where there are organizations suspected of engaging in
human trafficking? (Chris, Egypt, 15)
A: Sanctions can be an important instrument in special situations,
but they have to be targeted. However, I think sanctions would not
bring the needed results in fighting human trafficking. This is a
real crime committed by private organizations and not by governments.
States should be encouraged to prevent human trafficking.
Q: Dear Ambassador Staehelin, I am doing a
report on Nationalism. What is your country's position on this issue?
(Jacob, USA, 15)
A: Nationalism is a problem only when it becomes racist or a threat
to others. Switzerland has a new and very strong law for fighting
racism . For example, it’s forbidden to publish racist newspapers
Q: How should the international community
respond to terrorist activities? (Sam, USA, 14)
A: The only way to succeed in the fight against terrorism is through
very close cooperation between all countries. But fighting terrorism
is not only a question of strong laws. To succeed, you also have to
fight the causes. That is why Switzerland is supporting all of the
international community's efforts to improve social and other injustices
in the world.
Q: What programs does Switzerland have to
protect women's human rights? Is there any law in your country against
marital violence? (Zynthia, Puerto Rico, 23)
A: Switzerland has no specific laws in this respect. But, like in
other countries, violence against women is a problem. That is why
the Swiss government recently is launching a intense campaign to fight
Q: How can Switzerland offer its help for
refugee people? (Rasha, Kuwait, 20)
A: Switzerland is traditionally a very open country for refugees.
Over the last years, my country was a safe haven for thousands and
thousands of refugees. During the Balkan war ten years ago, over 300’000
men, women and children found protection in Switzerland. Today, nearly
20% of the people living in Switzerland are non-Swiss and many of
them are refugees.
Q: First I want to thank you for this opportunity.
I study hard and my dream is to belong to the UN. My question is:
what is your position on the use of children in armed conflict and
how would you suggest that this situation be faced? (Mexico,
A: Indeed children are particularly vulnerable. That’s why Switzerland
supported the establishment of two major international instruments:
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on
the involvement of children in armed conflicts and the Statute
of the International Criminal Court. In general, Switzerland supports
the activities aimed at sensitizing the public and integrating children’s
rights in UN activities. Switzerland is also a strong supporter of
the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and as of January 2003 I am
the President of its Executive Board.
Q: What do you think about what happened at
the Johannesburg Summit in Africa? (Eduardo, Mexico, 19)
A: Personally I am not fully happy with the results of the Johannesburg
Summit. I think, we have to do more to protect our planet.
Q: What is being done in Switzerland to combat
the family planning funding shortage to other nations? (Anna,
A: Switzerland is one of the main contributors to the United Nations
Population Fund and supports its activities strongly.
Q: What is your country's position on the
implementation of the International Criminal Court and the ratification
of the Rome Statute? (Ahmet, Kosovo, 26)
A: Switzerland was heavily involved in the creation of the International
Criminal Court and became one of the first states to sign and ratify
the Rome Statute. We need the International Criminal Court to protect
individuals all over the world and as a small State without a powerful
military force we rely on international law to resolve conflicts.
That is why we strongly support institutions like the ICC.
Q: In which issues Switzerland will be involved
now that it is a member of the
UN? (Jamshid, Uzbekistan, 17)
A: Switzerland’s priorities are in the fields of promoting peace,
human rights, humanitarian law, development policy and environmental
Q: What do you think is the best way of solving the poverty that most
World countries are facing? (Numo, Kenya, 15)
A: For years, Switzerland has been combating poverty by means of a
concrete development and social policy. Every year Switzerland is
spending 0.35 % of its GDP to finance development projects in the
third world and to support emergency help in cases of disasters This
amounts to about 1 Billion US Dollars.
Q: Sir, why are countries quarreling with
each other? Is it not possible to create a peaceful world? Why won't
the leaders of the world allow the present world to be peaceful for
us children who have so many dreams? (R.Sai, India, 9)
A: Most of the quarrels are due to injustices and intolerance in the
world. As ambassadors we try to work for a peaceful world. When you
are grown up, you can try to do the same.
Q: Why is there war in the world? Please ask
that question to the world for me. I'd like to know because there
is no good reason. I know I’m not on the subject I’m supposed
to talk about but I believe that anyone in your position would think
about this question and ask others. Peace is the answer to all the
questions about the US and Afghanistan and Israel and those countries’
problems. Please sir, I ask you with all my heart to please ask this
question. (Arielle, Canada, 12)
A: Switzerland has not been involved in a war since 1515 (except for
a brief civil war in 1848). Intolerance and injustice, however, breed
wars all over the world. The only way to stop them is through more
tolerance and better knowledge of other countries and peoples.
||Q: What is
Switzerland's relationship with Iraq? (Rogaya, Kuwait, 19)
A: Switzerland has diplomatic relations with Iraq. There is an Iraqi
Embassy in the Swiss capital of Bern. But since 1992, Switzerland
has not reopened his Embassy in Baghdad. In order to do humanitarian
work, some Swiss officials are based in Iraq .
Q: Being that Switzerland has always been
a mediator in world affairs, what is your position on the sanctions
placed on Iraq that are currently resulting in the death of over 3000
children a month (number quoted in UN reports)? (Mark, New
A: The Swiss position is clear: Switzerland supports sanctions. But
we are aware that sanctions can have a negative impact on civilians.
That is why Swiss experts together with German and Swedish officials
have done intense work to make sanctions less punitive on civilian
populations.. Switzerland proposed targeted sanctions in the field
of financial transactions.
Q: Dear Ambassador, it is heartening to know
that Switzerland has joined the family of nations. I welcome you on
behalf of my country India. I would like to know about Switzerland's
stand in the present crisis with Iraq. Is it in favor of further action
against Iraq or does it want to take a neutral stand? (Rahul,
A: Switzerland is opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction and fully supports the U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq.
For Switzerland it is imperative that all peaceful means to resolve
the crisis be exhausted before envisaging the resort to force. If
the need for military action cannot be avoided, the Security Council
must adopt a new resolution authorizing the use of force.
Q: What is Switzerland's relationship with
Kuwait? (Sanaa, Kuwait, 22)
A: Switzerland and Kuwait have a long and very friendly relationship.
There are quite a few Kuwaiti citizens living in the French part of
Switzerland near the Llake of Geneva and in smaller villages located
in the mountains of the Canton of Wallis. The economic ties between
the two countries are especially strong.
Q: As a neutral State, what is your opinion
on the current governmental crisis in Venezuela? (William,
A: It is for Venezuelans to find solutions to the current crisis,
not for outsiders. But coming from a country where four languages
and two religions live together peacefully, it is difficult to understand
why no peaceful way can be found. It will certainly take the cooperation
of all Venezuelans to solve the crisis.
Q: Your Excellency, we are holding a Model
UN conference as part of our history class. I'm going to represent
Israel. Given the neutrality of the Swiss which is known worldwide
what is your country's position on the situation in the Middle East?
(Marvin, Australia, 17)
A: Switzerland supports all UN resolutions concerning the Middle East.
We strongly support the right of Israel to live peacefully in its
boundaries. On the other hand, my country clearly supports the creation
of a Palestinian state.
Q: Ambassador Staehelin, since your country
is neutral in all wars, then if you were attacked who would your allies
be? (Steven, USA, 14)
A: We don’t expect to be attacked since we have very friendly
relations with all our neighbors (Germany, France, Italy, Austria
and Liechtenstein). Every Swiss man does military service, so we have
an army to defend ourselves.
Q: Now that Switzerland has joined the UN,
will you, have you, lost your neutrality? (Marvin, Australia,
A: No, Switzerland fully preserves its neutrality as a member of the
U.N. It reaffirmed this will of the Swiss people both in its formal
application for U.N. membership and when the President of the Swiss
Confederation addressed the General Assembly on the occasion of Switzerland’s
first appearance as a full U.N. member.
Being an ambassador
||Q: His Excellency,
Jenö Staehelin, Thank you for this opportunity. One day I would
like to work at the UN. Is there a particular course of study to that
would prepare me for the UN? Is there any job that will help prepare
me to be an ambassador? (Isabell, USA,
11) (Diego, Mexico, 13)
A: First you have to be a good student. Then you have to like working
with people from other countries. If you are interested in
becoming more involved in the work of the UN, contact the Youth Advisory
Committee of the Conference of NGO's.
Q: Dear Ambassador Staehelin, I am 14 years
old. I am doing a civics report on the United Nations. I am very happy
to see that your country has joined the United Nations. I feel that
this organization can help the world unite to resolve the conflicts
from day to day. My question to you is about your duty as an ambassador.
What is your daily routine as an ambassador? Are you friends will
the ambassadors from countries that Switzerland is in conflict with?
Is Secretary - General Annan friendly, funny, or shy? I would just
like to have a feel for your job since this interests me greatly.
Thank you very much. (Catherine, USA,
A: The work as an ambassador is different from day to day. First,
I have to be present at a lot of meetings - with my staff, with others
ambassadors, with high level people from the UN administration. I
have to discuss with my government to prepare interventions at the
UN General Assembly or in open debates in the UN Security Council.
I am very often invited to speak at universities or business meetings.
And finally I have to represent my country at special occasions. You
see, there is no routine.
We have no countries we are in conflict with.
Kofi Annan is a man I greatly admire. He has a very friendly, warm
||Q: 16. Are there any palm trees
in Switzerland? (Reuben, USA, 13)
A: Yes, there are palm trees in the southern part of Switzerland,
Q: How many different languages are spoken in Switzerland? How many
do you speak? (Noah and Michael, USA,
A: Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian
and Romansh. I speak three of them: German, French and Italian. And
English as a fourth language.
Q: What kind of government does Switzerland have?
(Rob, USA, 13)
A: Switzerland is a federal state. The government is represented by
the Federal Council composed of seven members of equal standing. The
parliament is embodied in the Federal Assembly, which is composed
of the National Council and the Council of States. The Federal Assembly
is the supreme authority of the Swiss Confederation.
Q: Why did your country join the UN only last month [Sept. 2002]?
(Amir, Malaysia, 11) (Fatima, Pakistan,
10) (Max, Germany, 6)
A: Under the Swiss Constitution, international treaties have to be
submitted to a popular vote. In 1986, Swiss voters rejected a proposal
that Switzerland seek membership in the U.N. The second time, in March
2002, the people and Cantons of Switzerland approved the initiative
for membership in the U.N. One of the main reasons why it took so
long is our neutrality. The Swiss people were afraid Switzerland would
have to give it up by joining the U.N. (which is, of course, not the
||Q: If you were to suggest improvements
for the UN, what would you suggest? What do you see the UN doing in
five years? (Darnell, USA, 19)
A: Switzerland takes an active role in
the continuing reform process. Its goals include improving the efficiency,
transparency and openness of the U.N.