Security Council, Cassis targets Russia

Cassis (center) during his speech to the UN Security Council, seated next to the Russian representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Ignazio Cassis on Thursday in New York, in his first speech before the UN Security Council (it is the first time that a federal councilor has taken part in a session of the most important body of the United Nations), targeted Russia’s “flagrant” violations in Ukraine.

This content was published on January 12, 2023 – 21:14

The Ticino federal councilor deplored the fact that the principles of the United Nations Charter are “put to the test”.

“It is the duty of every state to respect the norms and principles set forth therein,” said the head of Swiss diplomacy during a debate on the rule of law, as he sat next to Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya on an alphabetical issue.

Cassis progressively recalled the obligations enshrined in the Charter, namely the “prohibition of the use of force against the territorial integrity of another country, the peaceful solution of conflicts and the guarantee of fundamental freedoms”.

“It is our duty, as a member of the Security Council, to monitor compliance with these rules”, added the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. In the past, Cassis had already forwarded Switzerland’s condemnations against Russian aggression in Ukraine to the UN, attracting the blame of his counterpart Serghiei Lavrov.

Before the start of the meeting, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) had a brief conversation with US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The latter too has targeted Moscow before the Security Council, asking that those responsible suffer the consequences for their actions.

First time

This first speech by a federal councilor before the most powerful body of the United Nations is “a symbolically important moment”, Cassis admitted to the Swiss press. It was also an opportunity to convey the country’s good will. “Switzerland is delighted to be working for peace and security in the world with all the members of the Security Council”, Cassis said again in front of the other countries.

But the head of Swiss diplomacy has also called for ensuring that the procedures are honored so that the body can strengthen its “credibility”. He also praised the work of the mediator of the Committee on sanctions against the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Quaida for the application of the rule of law in UN sanctions. Cassis also advocated a similar approach for all other sanctions regimes.

International Geneva

In the face of violations of international law and an “insufficient” application of international law, in his opinion, the federal councilor asked for support for global bodies. Without expressly mentioning it, he alluded to collaboration with International Geneva.

He mentioned in particular the Human Rights Council and the investigation and fact-finding mechanisms of the UN, whose secretariat is often piloted from Geneva. But the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court have not been forgotten in his speech either.

Violations of the rule of law and human rights often precede a conflict. Cassis therefore called on the Security Council to take this link into consideration in its decisions on peacekeeping missions and political missions.

The invitation to participate in today’s debate on the promotion of the rule of law was formulated by Japan, the country which holds the presidency of the UN body for this month. The topic covered concerns at least two priorities defined by the Federal Council for Switzerland during its mandate in the Security Council, namely the construction of a sustainable peace and the protection of the civilian population.

Switzerland – we recall – joined the UN body for the first time on 1 January last. Among the first decisions taken this year by the Security Council there is also the extension of the mandate concerning cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, on the basis of a resolution presented by the Confederation and by Brazil.

Security Council, Cassis targets Russia