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Good evening and welcome to today's program of the Commonwealth Club of California, I am Cynthia Miyashita, Chair of the Club's Asia Pacific Affairs forum and your coordinator for tonight's program Switzerland and the United Nations: Pushing the Human Security and Sustainable Developments Agendas in Asia with Peter Maurer, Switzerland's Ambassador to the United Nations. We also welcome our listeners on the radio. We invite our audience to visit us at www.commonwealthclub.org. I would like to thank the Consulate General of Switzerland and Swissnex for their great support of tonight's program and all the effort they put into this program. It's my pleasure to also welcome and thank John Kamm who will introduce today's speaker. He himself has been a frequent and popular speaker here at the Commonwealth Club. John is the Executive Director of The Dui Hua Foundation, co-organizer of today's program. It's an organization he founded to improve human rights by means of what he calls a well informed dialogue between the United States and China. John has personally intervened on behalf of a number of Chinese protocol detainees over the years. I would like to thank John and The Dui Hua Foundation and his staff for making Ambassador Maurer's visit today possible and again for all of their support of today's program. Please join me in welcoming John Kamm. Thank you, Cynthia, for that very generous introduction. I would like to introduce a very good friend of mine Ambassador Peter Maurer. Peter Maurer is Switzerland's first Ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations assuming the position in September 2004 when Switzerland became the body's 190th member. He was a leader of the ultimately successful effort to establish the UN Human Rights Council last year. Peter Maurer studied history, political science and international law at universities in Berne and Perugia, obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Berne in 1983. After lecturing at the university's Institute for Contemporary History, he joined Switzerland's diplomatic service in 1987. He was immediately posted to Switzerland's embassy in South Africa. There he witnessed the violent last throes of the Botha regime, and the first steps towards reforming and ultimately eliminating apartheid. Peter returned to Switzerland and became Secretary to the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In 1996 he was posted to New York where he served as Deputy Permanent Observer of the Swiss Mission to the United Nations. In May 2000 he assumed the rank of Ambassador and returned to Berne to become head of Political Affairs Division IV, Human Security. In that capacity, Maurer managed Switzerland's increasingly robust and innovative human rights diplomacy, launching, among other initiatives, the Berne process, a grouping of countries engaged in human rights dialogues in exchanges with China. Ambassador Maurer is a very young 50-years-old. He is married and has two daughters and he loves New York but he loves San Francisco just as much. Thank you very much and please join me in welcoming ambassador Peter Maurer. Thank you very much. It's a great pleasure to be here tonight. There is certainly a must for a UN Ambassador its to come to San Francisco where 50 nations committed to the UN Charter and to global multi-literalism. You may say there would be better persons than the Swiss Ambassador to sort of last ones to join the club to talk about Switzerland and the United Nations. But then I say to myself how is the beginning of the Charter, the first words of the charter, it's we the peoples of the United Nations and actually this may remind us all that Switzerland is the only country which has actually voted on joining the United Nations and therefore I may not be the most authoritative speaker to talk about the United Nations but maybe have the most singular view on this very special body. I will run you tonight through a couple of work we do at the United Nations but basically I will make two broad areas of of my comments. First I will talk about Switzerland and the UN and what we have done over the past few years as a member and then in the second part I would like to focus on our activities through the United Nations in Asia and how the United Nations and we as a member state of the United Nations focus with regard to the shifting power relationships in the present world and the emergence of of Asian powers in this multilateral body as well. So joining the United Nations for Switzerland was somehow, I would say the victory of reason and the interest over populist opposition. Populist opposition which tries to blame the United Nations for everything which went wrong in the world, so I think something which might sound a little bit familiar to some of you we have certainly had for many decades strong resistances to join multilateral bodies. Why did the Swiss population change its attitude? I think after the end of the Cold War they started to understand what Thomas Friedman called the flattening of the world, what happens when globalization is reaching your country and people experience that the work place in the society in every day's life what it meant to be part of an international community. We saw the conflicts all over the world through migration arriving to our country. Just to give you an example at the present moment 500,000 people from former Yugoslavia live in Switzerland, 200,000 from Kosovo, we have the biggest Kosovo community all over Europe, we have 150000 Serbs living in Switzerland, 200000 Croats living in Switzerland. Some of them refugees, some of them migrants but this was a sort of a key event which made understand the Swiss that they could not be - partition themselves from world developments but they rather should be part of of seeking solutions in the world than just trying to to hide themselves. So conflicts came to the country through migration and this was one of the important factors which actually made the Swiss understand that they rather engage internationally. A second example, we have been a major donor in the Great Lakes region in Africa for 30 years of development cooperation and through the genocide in Rwanda we saw that everything we have invested for three decades was blown up in just six months time into nothing. So the Swiss understood that you could not actually stay apart from political developments in the world and this has facilitated our joining the United Nations. But there was also as always with the Swiss you never have just understanding, you have also interest and I think the people started to understand that as a small country it was our interest to join our efforts with others to make them more meaningful, more significant, more visible to have a profile as a country contributing to the solution of global problems. Also people started to understand that a small country in Europe somehow was very dependant on the normative order, an international normative order and that we are better part of the development of international norms. So, people started to understand the United Nations as what it is, sort of a normative infrastructure of a globalized world. So this again, we started to understand that being part of the United Nation was very much in our own interest. We also started to witness that the world was changing and the dynamic of conflicts and of our natural environment was changing. Dynamic of conflicts, it is very clear that in the 1990s we have departed from most of the time from traditional interstate conflict. Violence has taken a very different shape in the form of terrorism, new types of violence in the form of trans-national armed groups attacking deliberately civilians. So, if you wanted to reshape and you formulate your traditional humanitarian human rights, peace policies, values we have been attached over the past, we had to think afresh on what to do with those new challenges which couldn't just continue repeating the same policies towards a new reality of conflicts which was unfolding. The Swiss also started to see that the glaciers were melting, understanding that the global ecological system where in this repair and were falling apart. This was a catastrophic recognition also. You couldn't just start to economize and to carefully dispose of your wastes as the Swiss like to do but that global environmental issues were bigger and therefore you have to join others in order to tackle the global inter-relationship. And then thirdly, I think, the Swiss started to understand in 1980s and 90s that the very big countries in the world started to depart from global multilateralism, tried to do it on their own and to go unilateral and bilateral and alliances of friends and that this was a danger to small countries because at the end of the day, a functioning international order needs the participation of all and we were increasingly worried by the unilateralism, not only of the United States, but of other big countries in the world. And therefore we started as a member of the United Nations, not only to engage into innovative human security and sustainable development environmental policies but also we thought it is important that we strengthen the UN and make it more attractive not only for the small but also for the big, not only for the big but also for the small countries in the world. So just to give you a couple of examples on our initiative over the past years which where we tried to be rather innovative and bring new issues to the UN and have the UN work and respond to new challenges. We have been very active in mine actions and elimination of mine personal mines, mine action policies as well as control and limitation of trafficking in small arms. We have been on both in the core groups of countries addressing mine action problems and small arms problems. We invested the lot into the knowledge base which allowed countries to decide policies on mine action and small arms. We build up a Geneva Center for humanitarian de-mining which today is somehow the informal secretariat of the international community to know where the mines are and so to define programs. We initiated the Geneva Small Arms Survey who is today the authoritative institution to know what is happening in the traffic of small arms all over the world. And both these initiatives allowed the international community and the UN to device policies and program to address these issues. We have been also very engaged as a member of the UN and contributor to UN funds and program, to orient those funds and programs in order to help elimination of mines and destruction of small arms programs. We have very much been engaged again on this sort of human security at large policy on building structure for the accountability of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. We have been in the core group of countries building up the International Criminal Court. We have supported the special tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. At the present moment a Swiss is the Chief Legal Council of Ban Ki-moon's legal team and he is working on an international tribunal on a mixed tribunal in Lebanon to deal with the murder of Hariri. So we have worked a lot on accountability issues and prevention of genocide issues. We have been quite instrumental at the UN to develop and strengthen the UN's capacity on mediation prevention issues and we have with other countries pushed the former and the present Secretary General to create capacities to mediate in conflict. So just a couple of weeks ago Ban Ki-moon, the new Secretary General finally building on work which has been done before created the created the mediation support unit, the rule of law unit at the United Nation which are units in order to help countries to deal with difficult issues, back stopping negotiating processes and supporting rule of law projects all over the world. So these are some of the activities in the area more of dealing with new types of conflicts. In the area of environment we have invested a lot first in knowing what is happening to the environment, so the sort of international assessment as we have seen it emerge from the International Panel for Climate Change was very much carried by many states including ours to in order to get a reasonable scientific basis for political decision making. We have taken an initiative to device similarly to - into the millennium development goals global environmental goals and we this is an initiative we are bringing at the present moment to the United Nations so that countries could agree not only on millennium development goals but also on environmental goals and define targets and indicators in order to know where we stand and what we have to do and how to progress. So these are some of the policies and ideas we are bringing to the United Nations and then, as I said, we have been very much concerned of, on on unilateralism and on the weakening of the United Nations so we tried to strengthen the UN where we thought it was the weakest. In some of the key institutions where we thought that the UN would not deliver up to our expectations and human rights was definitely one of the crucial areas where we where we felt strongly that the former commission on Human Rights had lost had lost a lot of credibility. It was talked down but it had a lot, lost a lot of credibility because it was focusing almost exclusively on basically naming and shaming in the public space without having any serious policies followed. So we tried to inject the idea of creating a human new Human Rights Council. This should be a body which would not be able just to meet once a year but the throughout the year which would be able to respond more concretely to the upcoming Human Rights challenges which would have a better membership because we we asked for pledges for those who wanted to be and to sit on the Human Rights Council to engage in concrete pledges, to have more serious elections on the Human Rights Council because those pledges afterwards would be discussed and controlled in what we call a universal periodic review which would be a mechanism to which every country would have to respond to abort on critical questions. So we tried to fix and to repair and to inject ideas for the creation of a Human Rights Council. And here again we are at present moment at a very critical stage of decision, we have had a year ago the decision by the General Assembly to create this Human Rights Council and for a year now in Geneva countries have negotiated the details of the work of this of this council. By 18 of June, the Council will have to decide on the working mechanisms on the agenda on the way to approach human rights and we are at the present moment at a very critical stage where countries will have to find compromise on the different ways on how we look at human rights and so we are, by far not out of the woods in having created a perfect institution but we have some basis on where we hope that it will be able to address human rights with less double standards in a more cooperative approach, to have human rights more followed by concrete action on the ground by capacity building by strengthening national capacities to deal human rights instead of just conference, diplomacies, naming and shamings. This is an interesting concept because basically, this approach on human rights draws directly from experience we have had in our human rights dialogues with difficult countries like China or Iran, where we thought, there was no point in just going to the public market, only it might be good to discuss public human rights issues, but there should be concrete actions followed, so we would like to have this council and this institution and the human rights at the work of the United Nations more bound to ground work, to dialogue, to critical dialogue, to less double standards because everybody would really be exposed to the same kind of scrutiny. We have engaged for other reform projects like the peace building commission or reform of the Security Council but I won't go into too much details here. I just would like to to switch at this stage after this sort of general overview on some of the activities, we have developed at the UN over the past couple of years, on our view and what we did specifically in some of the Asian countries and I start with where Asia starts coming from Switzerland and Asia doesn't start in China, when you come from Switzerland. Asia stars in the occupied Palestinian territories because this is actually where the sword of first exposure to critical security, human rights development, human security issues starts and this is a region where we have been particularly active for the past years. We tried to use our traditional profile as a humanitarian actor in order to establish humanitarian dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians. We were quite instrumental in bringing Magen David Adom the Israeli equivalent to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent into the international movement of the Red cross and Red crescent and as you know this has happened just a couple of months ago. For the first time, the Israeli movement is able to join the international movement. We have established quiet dialogues between Israeli and Palestinian Red Cross and Red Crescent society and the Magen David Adom. This again has been instrumental. We have we have worked on an access regime for humanitarian actors in Gaza. We have produced a study which we have quietly submitted to the Israelis and Palestinians which clearly shows that Gaza is not a sustainable framework for the future. Gaza 2010 will be a place with no human security following melting down of structures. So something which is not sustainable not - neither in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians in order to have them work together for more cooperative arrangements. We have brought Israeli and Palestinian politicians together in order to think and to work the details of a possible peace agreement. You may remember that a couple of two years ago, the so called Geneva initiative was launched which was negotiated by Beilin from the Israeli side and Rabbo from the Palestinian side and which tried to detail how a two state solution in Palestine should look like. So this is human security at work on the ground in Asia when you come from Europe. It's just another perspective but I think it's an interesting it's an interesting entry point. We haven't been terribly active neither in Afghanistan nor Iraq because of two reasons - because of security reasons in Iraq primarily but also because of a lacking legitimacy of international actors to be active. I mean, this was one of the big problem with the US unilateral activity and action in Iraq. That countries like ours, even if we were to have wished to be helpful in humanitarian or other areas which would have a lot of constitutional difficulties to get into Iraq because as long as we don't have UN mandate and UN cover it is extremely difficult to become active. Just to explain to you why we would be active in Palestine but we were basically reduced to minimal humanitarian activities in Iraq and and some of Afghanistan. We have been very much engaged in Sri Lanka, in the civil war in Sri Lanka, together with the United Nations again. But here it's also an interesting format in corporation framework. Norway has basically negotiated between the Sri Lankan governments and the Tamil tigers. And in a close cooperation with Norway we did back channel these negotiations so we basically ran a network of Singhalese and Tamil scientists, civil society and political figures which tried to work quietly on solutions which then were brought to the negotiating table. So it was a close cooperation then between two countries Norway and Switzerland working on the civil war. And then came in the United Nations which tried to implement through the funds and programs some development humanitarian, demining policies in order to facilitate and to support this peace process. We have been very active in Nepal. Nepal has been the first country in which the Swiss Development Corporation became active at the beginning of the 1960s. We have been in Nepal since the beginning of the 1960 in Development Corporation. Our development people knew almost everybody on the governments and also on the opposition side in Nepal. So we started quite dialogue in Switzerland between the Maoists and the government in Katmandu. We had two years ago a civilian peace advisor dispatched to our Development Cooperation office in Katmandu and we tried to foster this dialogue. In the Human Rights Commission we had a resolution launched in cooperation with the then government of the King in order to allow the United Nation's High Commissioner Human Rights go into Nepal. And it was this resolution which allowed the UN presence on the ground and then the UN office started again to foster the dialogue on critical human rights issues. And the UN office was as instrumental as were some of the back channel talks in order to foster the dialogue between the parties. And then we had to deal with new global realities. I mean, Nepal is in between China and India. So you better talk to China and India in order to bring the parties together. So this was certainly one of the more interesting and successful initiative where again a country with a strong tradition, could devise behind-the-scene work, could prepare the ground for the UN and once the situation was ripe, the UN could come in and could devise a major operation. And as you know since last December, the UN has a strong presence in Nepal devising the disarmament and arms reduction talk between the Maoists and the government. They are looking at the collection of arms program. The UN is together with the Swiss who works in the UN team continuing the negotiations and the preparation for the elections which would take place. This is an interesting example where a small country can in cooperation with the UN have an impact. Of course, we have also worked with bigger countries and that's where I got friend with John Kamm in our human rights dialogue with China. Switzerland has been the first country to send a delegation to China after Tiananmen and the reason why we sent a delegation was that, of course, we recognized the importance of of the emerging Chinese market of China as an international player but at the same time said if we want to have a sustainable relationship in the future we have to address areas of concern and its in the earlier 1990s already when we started to propose to the Chinese that we establish a human rights dialogue where we could raise critical issues of concern to both countries and that a meaningful development of relation should not comprise economic social cultural areas only but should comprise the delicate issues of human rights where we had a lot of perception and also real problems and that's, I think, we I would say we have never learnt so much as we did in the human rights dialogue with China because both sides started to move in concept and practice. We started to understand that we could not just speak about the global norms that realities are different from one area to the other. There is no abstract way in implementing global norms you have to take into consideration what the realities on the ground are and the Chinese started to understand that you could not excuse every human rights violation with the specificity of your situation. That there were something like a global public opinion, a global concern and that this was not something which they could just get out of it and in the long term discard as an important element of the strategy. That's where we started to engage in sometimes open and sometimes more quite ways together with the valuable help of Dui Hua and John Kamm in order, who was instrumental to inject knowledge and know-how into that dialogue because, of course, if you are small country you don't have an administration which knows the details about the legislation, the individual cases. You have to look who has the best knowledge and definitely John had it and so we started to work quietly on trying to raise individual cases, trying to be precise with the Chinese on where we thought that the deficiencies in the legal system where. These are some of the examples where we tried to to use dialogue as an instrument of transformation. So this is just some of the of the examples of our activities in Asia. Some of them bilateral, some of them at the UN, most of them in a combination between a unilateral Swiss initiative and knowledge together with know-how and knowledge of others, together with an the international platform which helps to to give meaningful implementation of what single countries can do. Now at the United Nations, I think, the past couple of years have been extremely interested, interesting also because of what I would say the tectonic shift in power relationships in the world. I mean, you know better than I do that the emergence of China and India has been of a crucial concern and it has been part of the debate in the United States. This is certainly something which has transformed the way the UN is working over the past years considerably and changes in China has been the have been the most crucial factor to change the dynamic of the political decision making process at the UN because the big difference between 1996 and 2000 when I was an observer at the UN and my work today is to see that China's main focus today is not to keep out of an international discussion but is engaging on each and every issue. The Chinese do have an opinion on UN reform, on mine action, on small arms, on the International Criminal Court, on the Middle East, on Darfur, on Kosovo. Each and every place where the UN is active, it's it's not just - do not go into this conflict because this is an is just an illicit sort of way of of the international community, on infringing on National sovereignty. The Chinese have changed. They come to the UN negotiating table with a strong opinion, with a strong view and strong positions on each and every issue on the global agenda. So this has considerably changed the way a country like Switzerland has to operate. Because of course, as a small country, you come you are not in a position to come like the like the United States and China. You don't have a veto power. You have to work for the largest possible consensus. So you have to interact with the Chinese, with India, with the key actors, which are emerging on the international scenes. And one of the way we tried to break the sword of traditional way the UN does business is also that we tried to focus on our global vocation as Switzerland, maybe you not on our being a European but being also a country which has always been economically, socially interested in global affairs overall. So we started to look for allies on each and every issue we were interested and to shape alliances trans regionally and not limited to Europe. We were probably and we are probably the country with the most groups of friends which we constituted in all continents of the world. We started and supported the Human Rights Council with a strong alliance in Latin America of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica. We had friends in Africa, South Africa, Mali, Tanzania. We have friends in Asia, the Philippines, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Japan. And so we started to look into trans regional alliances and to see that we find the way in dealing with the very, very big guys at the table. The United States, the Chinas, the Russias. So it has the dynamic of decision making at the United Nations has changed considerably. Now we have had an Asian Secretary General coming in. And this was another interesting dynamic which changed the way of operation at the UN. Ban Ki-moon is confronted in his Secretary Generalship with the usual dilemmas of the Secretary General whether and the the dilemma is do I want to be Secretary or General. And actually he finds himself as a dilemma that he has to be both of them. But the way he interprets his being Secretary and General, is very different from what we have seen from Kofi Annan. Maybe it's there only about Secretary and General. Kofi has given himself Kofi Annan has given himself also the profile of the Secretary General as a sort of secular Pope. I mean he is the man who comes in, in the morning and says to the press who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. And it is interesting to see how Ban Ki-moon interprets these role of Secretary, of General and of secular Pope. The new Secretary General coming from Asia he has tuned down quite a lot the secular pope issue. You can't see Ban Ki-moon everyday in value judgments on who he thinks is on the good or the wrong side. But he is working very efficiently and effectively behind the scenes on some of the conflicts. He has visited the Arab summit. He has visited the African summit. He has decided that Darfur is a huge problem and therefore he has to find a way in bringing African and Arab constituency to exert pressure on the parties in Darfur in order to move to a negotiated settlement. So he has much been the sort of behind the scene, Secretary General. It is clear that his style of being an Asian has as older institution it shakes the beginnings, people have to get used to new styles and this is a very different style. It sounds like a clichÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© but of course, the Secretary General is a very soft and moderately spoke - spoken person, never really quite profiled, but the end of the day, he works extremely hard and efficiently behind the scenes to bring parties together. So he has given his role of rather one of working in and on conflicts and making the UN behind the scenes work a little bit more profiled than maybe the public presence. So I would like if you agree to stop here just with a few remarks which, I think, are necessary to do in San Francisco and in the United states because otherwise this would probably be the first question to a Swiss on how the US-Swiss relations have developed in the United Nations. In these sort of power - power shifts we had a very interesting time over the past a couple of years, I must say. There is no question and no doubt that there are so many communalities in values and policies between a country like Switzerland and the United States that there is a big area of common understanding. The biggest and most unproblematic common understanding is that, we want value for money, we want the United Nations to be effective, efficient and we have been strong partners in some of the key UN reform projects. But of course, the past years and the agenda I have told to you has also brought us in some conflict with the present administration. Mine action, small arms, international justice, sustainable development, Kyoto Protocol have not been really at the top of the agenda of this administration. So the relationship at the United Nations has been an interesting one. On one side extremely close to the US on may issues and we have been partners in developing many common projects, but also of course a rather conflictual one on some of those new areas on which we tried to push the UN agenda. I will stop it here and would be delighted to take questions. Thanks a lot.