Switzerland and the United Nations
Switzerland joined the United Nations in 2002, although the country has benefitted from observer status in the main organs of the United Nations since 1948. When the United Nations was originally founded the Swiss government chose not to become a member, due to being a neutral state.
Even though Switzerland was non member of the UN the country was still involved in a number of accords and treaties, including the United Nations Pact on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. Geneva, Switzerland, is the second most important United Nations location in the world, after New York.
Swiss nationals have served as United Nations Military observers in Namibia, Egypt and Congo. In Kosovo a peacekeeping force of the Swiss army was deployed, this was validated by the United Nations Security Council. Since Switzerland became a full member of the UN it has increased its involvement in peacekeeping operations and international law.
The European headquarters of the United Nations are situated in Geneva, Switzerland, along with a number of special agencies including:
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- The International Labour Organization
- the International Telecommunication Union
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
- The World Meteorological Organization
- The World Trade Organization
- The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
- The Office of the High Commision for Human Rights
- The United Nations Refugee Agency
- The World Intellectual Property Organization
In addition the Universal Postal Union is situated in Bern, Switzerland. As well as being a member of the United Nations, Switzerland is also a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and hosts the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum. Switzerland is also world renowned as the birthplace of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention.