President Berset calls for stronger international cooperation in New York

Bern, 27.09.2018 - During the ministerial week at the United Nations in New York, President Alain Berset stressed the importance to Switzerland of international cooperation and international law. This was also the key message of his address to the UN General Assembly, and was a theme he developed at various bilateral meetings during the week with heads of state and government.

At a meeting between President Berset and UN Secretary General António Guterres, the focus was on reforms to the UN, which Switzerland supports. The president also met with Michelle Bachelet, who assumed the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September.

Over the past several days, Mr Berset has held bilateral meetings with the following heads of state: Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Mauricio Macri (Argentina), Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt), Hilda C. Heine (Marshall Islands), Hassan Rohani (Iran), Borut Pahor (Slovenia) and Hashim Thaçi (Kosovo). He also held talks with the prime ministers of Nepal, Khadga Prasad Oli, and of Serbia, Ana Brnabić). The discussions covered bilateral relations and international affairs.

In his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, 25 September, Mr Berset stated that the international community had much to lose in the current crisis facing multilateralism. A political approach oriented towards protectionism and self-interest hinders trade, harms prosperity, feeds distrust and leads to isolation: “We can only address challenges such as growing inequalities, demographic change and the causes of migration effectively if we strengthen international cooperation.”   

Health and migration policy

The main themes addressed by Mr Berset on the fringes of the UN General Assembly were health and migration policy. He attended two high-level sessions on migration issues, and took part in two health policy related events organised by Switzerland – one on drugs policy and Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, and the other on healthcare provision in emergency situations.

Mr Berset also attended a reception to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, along with traditional gatherings hosted by the US president and the European Union, as well as an official lunch at the invitation of UN Secretary General Guterres. Rounding off his visit to the USA, Mr Berset gave a speech on direct democracy at the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday, 27 September.

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