President Maurer calls on international community to follow global "compasses" and actively tackle future digital challenges

Bern, 24.09.2019 - During the United Nations (UN) ministerial week, President Ueli Maurer described the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions as "compasses of values" that are ever increasing in importance in a time of great uncertainty. The international community has the duty to protect the rights of every country and every person. The digital transformation and, in particular, data protection as part of human rights were also a focal point of his speech to the UN General Assembly.

The President of the Swiss Confederation spoke at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, 24 September 2019. He underlined the importance of the UN Charter and stressed that the international community also has the responsibility to protect the rights of smaller countries. He called the Geneva Conventions, which were adopted 70 years ago, a "compass of value" for fundamental human rights.

He also called for technical progress not to be hindered: "If we are to succeed in stabilising supplies of food, water and energy, if we are to tackle climate change effectively, we need to do more than just pay lip service to these aims – we need technical innovation." "We want the new digital society to commit to, abide by, and implement a common set of basic ethical values," said the President of the Swiss Confederation, referring to the corresponding objectives of the "Swiss Digital Initiative", which was founded three weeks ago in Geneva in the presence of global corporations, the UN and the ICRC. Switzerland is prepared to make its contribution to the world community and with Geneva offers the UN an important platform for promoting exchange.

At Monday's Climate Action Summit, President Maurer emphasised that Switzerland, as a country with high mountains, was particularly affected by global warming. He paid tribute to the initiative of the UN Secretary-General, "who urges us to act while there was still time". He also described the measures planned by Switzerland and emphasised that the research and development of new climate-friendly systems and processes was indispensable: "As politicians, it is precisely here that we are called upon to create the framework conditions to enable innovative ideas and approaches".

Bilateral meetings and anniversary celebrations

On the fringes of the UN General Assembly, the President of the Swiss Confederation discussed current bilateral issues and global challenges with heads of state and government. He met, among others, the Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, the heads of state of Iran, Hassan Rohani, and Kazakhstan, Qassym-Schomart Toqayev, as well as the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. President Maurer discussed with UN Secretary-General Guterres the reform efforts of the world organisation, which Switzerland supports.

The programme also included an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the four Geneva Conventions drawn up in 1949 under the chairmanship of Federal Councillor Max Petitpierre at an international conference, which to this day form the core of international humanitarian law. Finally, President Maurer attended a dinner in New York to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

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