On March 3, 2002, the Swiss people and cantons accepted an initiative for Switzerland to join the United Nations and thus committed itself to the UN Charter. A little more than 20 years later, the Swiss Mission in New York commemorated this historic date by inviting the diplomatic community to celebrate this important chapter of Swiss direct democracy. The event was held in the Boathouse in Central Park, decorated for the occasion with beautiful light installations by artist Katja Loher, illustrating what Switzerland can bring to the United Nations.
During the evening, in true Swiss fashion, we asked our guests to fill in a ballot paper to make a wish for Switzerland and to vote on key areas of collaboration for the next 20 years. 60% of the guests made use of this option - an excellent turnout, also by Swiss standards!
And here are the results:
• Peace promotion. It may not come as a big surprise that the search for peace remained the topic at the heart of most of our guests. Promoting peace and respect for one another thus featured prominently in their responses.
• Keeping the UN relevant. Several wishes concerned UN reforms and highlighted the need to work harder to keep our organization relevant for the next 20 years and beyond. Proposals ranged from Security Council reform to fully reopening the delegates lounge. Some wishes will be more easily realized than others…!
• Inclusion and Climate Action. Another crucial aspect was the meaningful participation of youth, of minorities and women in the fulfilling of the tasks of the United Nations, including calls for a woman for Secretary-General. Many also stressed that climate action had to be on the forefront of our endeavours.
• Creating a positive work-life-health balance. Your wishes for a better balance concerned the planet, the United Nations but also the staff of the Swiss Mission. We hear you and will keep working on it!