Switzerland is a leading supporter of the
Council's action on country situations, standing out in the Western Group and in
the Council as a whole. Its engagement is non-selective and principled.
Switzerland's greatest attribute is its ability to find creative ways of
engaging on situations or issues otherwise ignored by the Council.
Voting Record in 2016
Switzerland's work on country situations at the Council and its leadership during the period under review are commendable. Switzerland stepped up its engagement in the Council and led on two initiatives on country situations where other Western countries failed to act decisively. The first was a joint statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain. Switzerland mobilized 28 countries during the June 2012 session of the Council to press the Bahrain government to stop abuses and implement reforms recommended by the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry. This initiative was particularly significant given the Council’s failure to respond to violations committed against protesters in the country during the Arab uprising in 2011. Switzerland coordinated two other joint statements on Bahrain during the March and September 2013 sessions of the Council, the latest joined by 47 countries. The second Swiss-led initiative was a cross-regional joint statement calling for the referral of the Syrian case to the ICC, another initiative that influential Western countries were reluctant to pursue at the Council.
These Swiss-led initiatives proved that a middle ground exists between total inaction at the Council and full-fledged mobilization through a resolution, and that states can find innovative ways to challenge the double standards and the apathy of the Council on a broader range of situations. The Swiss actions are a clear example of a new form of engagement in which a group of concerned states can press a government to improve its rights record, or can act to try to raise the bar of the Council’s engagement, even when the Council as a whole is unwilling to step up to the challenge. This approach can also be used as a stepping-stone for stronger action.
Switzerland had an almost flawless voting record under agenda items 2 and 4 during the examined period. The only blot in this respect was its abstention on amendments that would have strengthened the Libya resolution in March 2012. Switzerland also supported the joint statements on the human rights situation in Eritrea and the general joint statement in support of the Council’s work on country situations.
In 2012, Switzerland voted in favor of all but two of the resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. In 2013 Switzerland voted in favor of all the resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, except the resolution on the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan on which it abstained.
In 2012 and 2013, Switzerland co-sponsored a
total of 39 country-specific resolutions on a variety of situations, under
agenda items 1, 2, 4, 7 and 10. Switzerland also
participated in almost all country-specific debates. Switzerland’s objective
statements based on the facts were a positive contribution to the Council.
Switzerland should take its excellent engagement a step further by considering
tabling its country initiatives, which now have very broad support, as
resolutions of the Council.