Switzerland is a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2023–24 period. At its meeting on 11 September 2020, the Federal Council took note of a report outlining ways for Parliament to be involved during Switzerland's Security Council membership. The proposed options take account of the constitutional division of powers and the Federal Council's ability to conduct foreign policy. The government report fulfils a postulate from the Council of States Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ensuring credibility as a member of the UN Security Council places high demands on the elected member states. Preparations for Switzerland's planned membership in 2023–24 are under way and constitute one of the key objectives of the current legislative period and the 2020–23 foreign policy strategy. The Federal Council welcomes the interest of parliamentarians in this important undertaking and, with regard to the division of foreign policy powers, is ready to involve Parliament during Switzerland's term on the UN Security Council.
Federal Council proposes regular reporting
Among the options set out in the report, the Federal Council proposes to keep Parliament regularly informed about the Security Council's latest and upcoming business during its two-year term by providing oral or written reports to the parliamentary foreign affairs committees. In addition, the foreign affairs committees are to be briefed on Switzerland's basic positions on key dossiers in the Security Council in advance of its term and consulted on its priorities within the Security Council. Furthermore, the Federal Council proposes to immediately consult the presidents of the foreign affairs committees in the case of certain clearly defined, important and urgent circumstances (establishment of a new sanctions regime and authorisation of military enforcement measures). The Federal Council is also open to additional measures which fall within Parliament's remit (information visits to UN headquarters in New York, secondment of a member of staff of Parliamentary Services). The focus is on Switzerland's ability to conduct foreign policy, which must be upheld at all times during its term on the Security Council.
No new legal basis required
The UN Security Council addresses a vast amount of country-specific, regional and thematic issues of relevance to peace and security worldwide. Much of its business can be planned, although in some cases its mandate may call for rapid action. The options presented by the Federal Council would enable it to involve Parliament as appropriate while Switzerland serves on the Security Council. They would also allow Parliament to fully exercise its function and responsibilities within the existing division of powers. Moreover, these measures can be implemented within the existing legal framework.
Candidacy for the Security Council has been running for past nine years
The Federal Council decided in 2011 to register Switzerland as a candidate for a UN Security Council seat, following a parliamentary consultation process over a number of years. Since then, Switzerland's candidacy has been confirmed on numerous occasions by both the Federal Council and Parliament. Switzerland and Malta are still the only candidates for the two seats reserved for the Western European and Others Group. The election will be held in June 2022.