One more country is striving to join the United Nations. A referendum has been held in Switzerland on UN entry on March 3. Fifty-five percent of the population welcome the decision. There is only one European state outside the UN now, the Vatican.
Even before the referendum, Switzerland cooperated with the UN: it is a member of almost all specialized organizations and contributes about $300 million per year to their budgets. However, Switzerland has not been accepted yet to the key department: the UN General Assembly. The new member is to be admitted in the UN at a regular session in September.
A long struggle between supporters and opponents of the UN entry was fought before the final decision was made. The positions of so-called isolationists are still very strong in the country. Their negative attitude to Switzerland’s entry into the UN is based on the traditional, historically formed neutrality of the country. They fear that entry into the UN will drastically damage Switzerland’s traditional neutrality. The same argument was a success during the previous referendum on the problem held in the country in 1986. However, after sixteen years, the situation was repeated, with a different result.
Why do Swiss support entry into the UN? There are several reasons. First, the government popularized the examples of Sweden and Austria, which recently entered the UN. It was said that UN membership caused no damage to their neutrality. What is more, Austria is even actively integrating not only into the UN structures but into the European Union as well. Second, the Swiss government would like to influence international affairs. UN membership provides the greatest opportunities for such influence. The famous banking system of Switzerland will not be transformed after entry into the UN, and its influence may even increase. Third, the lastest tendencies of world policy have reached such countries as Switzerland. The US-led anti-terrorism war concerns the country as well. Indeed, no neutrality guarantees protection from acts of terrorism. However, the USA takes the slightest account of UN opinion in its policy.
In any case, the Swiss referendum revealed that the very idea adherance to neutrality adherence is becoming less popular. The United Nations is still a very influential organization that is attractive for more new members. But what is to come next? If the UN fails to defend its supremacy in the settlement of international security problems, its every advantage might come to naught. The main objective for the UN leadership now is not to think about strengthening its influence in the world politics but at least to preserve what is has right now.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/04/37807.html