Update: 11.10.2019

Switzerland abstains twice at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council has already met twice in special sessions, both times passing a resolution condemning a country. Both times, Switzerland abstained. A first special session was held on July 6, 2006, at which Israel was condemned for attacks in Gaza. The second one condemned Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on August 11, 2006.

The Swiss ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Blaise Godet, said regarding the latter that he considered the final resolution to be asymmetrical and unbalanced, hence the Swiss abstention: «But it still contains certain elements that we agree with», he told Swissinfo. By doing so, the country preserves an attitude of neutrality within the new UN body. Switzerland is the only Western country that did not vote against the second resolution. It did, however, condemn both parties for their attack against civilians, called for an immediate cease-fire and later welcomed the Security Council resolution. Switzerland is the depository state of the Geneva Conventions, which set the standards for international humanitarian laws and which have been signed by all countries in the world.

On May 9, 2006, Switzerland was elected with 47 other countries at the new Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, which aims to exert moral pressure on countries it deems to be violating UN accords. The Council, which stems from a Swiss initiative, meets three times a year, and can convene emergency sessions. Such sessions can be called by a minimum of one third of the members. The first regular session of the Human Rights Council took place from 19 to 30 June 2006 in Geneva.

Second Resolution of the Human Rights Council

First Resolution of the Human Rights Council

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