On October 25, 2023, the UN Security Council voted on a draft US resolution on the situation in the Middle East. The adoption of the resolution failed due to a veto by Russia and China. Switzerland supported the resolution because it would have represented a step by the Security Council to protect civilians in the Middle East and emphasized humanitarian pauses as a measure for humanitarian access. Switzerland was actively involved in the negotiations leading up to the vote to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian pauses were enshrined in the text of the resolution.

The Council also voted on a Russian draft resolution that failed to secure a majority. Switzerland abstained. The Russian proposal called for a ceasefire, which Switzerland supported in principle, but in the text of the resolution, which had not been discussed among Council members beforehand, contained elements that did not correspond to the Swiss position and assessments.

The day before, during an open debate in the UN Security Council, Switzerland once again condemned the acts of terror, the indiscriminate firing of rockets against the Israeli population and the taking of hostages by Hamas. It also underlined Israel's legitimate desire for national defense and security and called on all parties to respect international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and to take measures to de-escalate. Switzerland also called on all actors to remove obstacles to the swift, safe and unhindered delivery of aid to Gaza.

The protection of civilians is a top priority for Switzerland as the Depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and a priority for its membership in the Security Council. "Civilians in Israel and in Gaza must be protected at all costs. We are committed to a Security Council that makes respect for international humanitarian law a priority, especially in urgent cases," said Swiss Ambassador Maya Tissafi, Head of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division and Head of the Middle East Task Force, in New York.

In her remarks, Switzerland underscored its commitment since last week for the Council to adopt a resolution that would allow forhumanitarian pauses and rapid, safe and unhindered access for aid to Gaza. Last week, two resolutions failed due to a lack of votes and a US veto.

Switzerland remains convinced that humanitarian pauses are urgently needed to provide the civilian population with essential goods and to allow humanitarian organisations access to the Gaza Strip in accordance with international humanitarian law. To achieve this, the Security Council must find a solution. Switzerland continues to advocate for this.

Switzerland calls on the UN Security Council to step up its efforts to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians.Against the background of the current escalation of the conflict, urgent humanitarian measures are important. The goal of a sustainable peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution must not be lost sight of.

Statement by Switzerland on the situation in the Middle East, UN Security Council, 24.10.2023

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