I thank Secretary-General António Guterres for his remarks.
First of all, I would like to express our concern about the current violence in Sudan, which is unacceptably affecting the civilian population. Switzerland joins the call of the Secretary-General.
The adoption of the United Nations Charter on 26 June 1945 represented a fundamental paradigm shift: war - previously a legitimate instrument of foreign policy - was now prohibited. Territorial expansion by force - previously the privilege of the great military powers - was outlawed. The prohibition of the use of force, coupled with the obligation to resolve conflicts peacefully, was revolutionary. These principles put countries of all sizes and powers on an equal legal footing.
Or almost. The privileges of the great powers were intensely debated - already in San Francisco - and finally accepted on condition of a clear promise: greater responsibility for international peace and security on the part of the permanent members of this Council.
As Member States, we have all subscribed to the principles and values of the Charter and reaffirmed this commitment in an excellent declaration on the occasion of the UN's 75th anniversary. Yet the Charter is being violated on a massive scale. For more than a year, state sovereignty, territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use of force continue to be flouted by the military aggression of a permanent member of the Security Council against its neighbour. The most effective way to preserve multilateralism and the integrity of the Charter is therefore to respect it. Switzerland condemns in the strongest possible terms the military aggression against Ukraine and I reiterate here the firm appeal to the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine without delay.
This open debate is presented as an opportunity for the Council to demonstrate its commitment to the Charter and to discuss the strengthening of multilateralism. This is a duty that we have not only today, but every time we call for the protection of civilians, every time we condemn violations of international law and every time we urge the parties to the conflict to silence their weapons and return to the negotiating table.
It is a duty we have under the Geneva Conventions - a success story of multilateralism because they are among the few international treaties that have been universally ratified. As these Conventions celebrate their 75th anniversary next year, states must take concrete steps to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law.
It is then a duty, in times of peace as well as in times of war, to respect the human rights that serve to protect human dignity. The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year will be an opportunity to reaffirm its universality.
Switzerland is convinced that effective multilateralism remains the only way to achieve the vision of a peaceful and just world. A world where the rule of law prevails and not the law of the strongest and where human dignity is always - always! - respected. A world in which, finally, the entire population benefits from social and economic progress.
We are convinced of this because respect for the Charter remains existential - for a small or medium-sized state like ours and for most member states of the United Nations. Regardless of whether this world is unipolar, bipolar or multipolar.
We are also convinced that the Charter and multilateralism have enabled humanity to make remarkable progress, such as avoiding - to this day - a nuclear confrontation, decolonizing many regions of the world, reducing poverty, improving access to health and education systems, making economic progress and even walking on the moon and creating artificial intelligence.
We have managed - in this forum - to negotiate the goals of sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda - which - if we finally implement them in full - can save this planet and create more equality for our children and grandchildren.
It is clear that the effectiveness of the Charter depends on the willingness of states to implement it. And this will is too often lacking. We are living in a period of polycrisis. The UN estimates that one in four young people is affected by violence or armed conflict, whether she is a girl under the air strikes in Khartoum, Bakhmout or Sagaing, sexually abused in Port-auPrince or Goma, or deprived of education in Kandahar.
The principles of the Charter are not a menu from which to pick and choose. We call for unconditional respect for international law by all actors in all circumstances. And we call for the courage to finally and seriously engage in reforms of the multilateral system, including this Council, in order to restore confidence in and within that system. With Our Common Agenda and the New Agenda for Peace, we have a unique opportunity, but also an urgent need. We must change the course of history quickly.
With leadership, political will and confidence, we can do it.
History will judge whether we have lived up to the Charter. You can deny the facts, use cynical rhetoric, or spread misinformation, but you cannot deceive the memory of history. It will judge us. And the human family cannot heal until justice is done for the victims and trust is restored. This is also the very first recommendation of last week’s High-Level Advisory Board's report on effective multilateralism: rebuilding trust through inclusion and accountability.
This trust requires that we listen to each other. Let's have a dialogue about what unites us. A constructive dialogue rather than discussions about the number of poles in this world. A dialogue that reminds us of the universal principles to which we have committed ourselves. There is no alternative to effective multilateralism – universal, inclusive multilateralism based on international law.
I thank you.