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Ban hails Switzerland's ten years in UN

AFP · 11 Sep 2012, 17:34

Published: 11 Sep 2012 17:34 GMT+02:00

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"During the short period of ten years, you have made your mark in so many ways," Ban said in an address to the federal parliament, a decade after Switzerland voted in a referendum to become the 190th member nation of the UN.

He congratulated Switzerland in all four of its official languages -- French, German, Italian and Romansh, drawing thunderous applause from the packed national council.

Ban hailed the small country of nearly eight million people for, among other things, being "such a champion in protecting human rights", saying Switzerland was "forever linked with two of the world's greatest symbols of compassion" --  the Geneva Convention and the Sign of the Red Cross.

On March 3rd 2002, 54.6 percent of the electorate voted in favour of joining the world body, despite fears voiced by some that the move might jeopardize the country's cherished neutrality.

The UN General Assembly then welcomed Switzerland into the fold on September 10th of that year.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said his country's "neutral status at the heart of the UN has allowed it to preserve its autonomy".

During the past decade, Switzerland had "strengthened its sovereignty and its international recognition," he said in a statement.

The UN secretary general said "it would be a mistake to interpret (Switzerland's) famed impartiality as indifference", instead lauding the country for its "passion for compassion".

During a ceremony in Geneva on Monday, Burkhalter gave the UN chief an unusual gift to mark the anniversary: 10 productive beehives decked out in the red and white of the Swiss flag and named after UN objectives such as "Peace", "Human Rights," and "Environment".

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The beehives, placed in the lush park surrounding the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, are part of a plan to produce up to 700 kilos of honey by next year.

Ban said he was thrilled by the gift, which also was an incitement to halt the disastrous decline in bee colonies in many parts of the world.

"On this 10th anniversary of Switzerland's membership in the United Nations, let us celebrate the country's enormous contribution to a better -- and sweeter -- world," he said.

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Your comments about this article

2012-09-13 07:37:49 by Meppin
The US has declared economic war on Switzerland. The US is VERY vulnerable given its debt load and the role of the US Dollar. If the US persists in this war on Switzerland, the Swiss Government should announce that all Swiss financial institutions will be prohibited from purchasing ANY US dollar denominated securities, and current portfolios will be "liquidation only" for US dollar assets. Also the SNB will no longer hold any US dollar holdings and be selling it all. This will mark the end of the US Dollar as the global reserve currency and the end of this constant bullying by the most hypocritical regime in the modern era.
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