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Switzerland votes to join the UN

By mithrandir in News
Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 03:55:32 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

On Sunday March 03, 2002 Swiss voters decided in favour of joining the United Nations. This means that in September Switzerland will be accepted as the organisation's 190th member.

The Swiss referendum process is a tricky one - not only 50%+ votes are needed but also an approval by more than half of the cantons (member states) is required. Whilst 1,484,818 (54.6%) votes were cast in favour, compared to 1,236,067 (45.4%) against the adhesion, the second hurdle received a much narrower 12:11 result.

The issue was put up to vote for the first time back in 1986 and the referendum resulted in a landslide win for the opponents with ca. 75% of the participants saying 'Nay'. Up until now the country only enjoyed observer status (together with the Vatican), although it contributes 300 million dollars a year to UN humanitarian work and hosts a number of agencies.

The most important argument against membership was that it would be necessary to amend the constitution causing the country's so valued neutrality to be most likely compromised. Obviously the majority of voters came to the conclusion that it is possible to combine membership together the concept of neutrality, which dates back to the battle of Marignano in 1515. Nevertheless, Switzerland will now have to redefine its position in the international community. Interestingly enough Sweden, another traditionally neutral European country, practically gave up the concept a few weeks ago stating that neutrality is now only one of many possible positions it could adapt in an armed conflict.


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Switzerland votes to join the UN | 19 comments (19 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
The most important argument (4.14 / 7) (#1)
by myshka on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:25:55 PM EST

The most important argument against membership was that it would be necessary to amend the constitution causing the country's so valued neutrality to be most likely compromised.

I think the most important argument is that UN membership doesn't offer Switzerland or the Swiss people any benefits whatsoever. It ensues that membership is very much a waste of federal funds and represents, at its most basic level, a cynical ploy by government bureaucrats to secure another little playground where their services are "needed". I'm quite surprised at the results, since the boilerplate internationalist rhetoric espoused by the government and its supporters within centrist parties hadn't held much sway outside of the French-speaking cantons in the past.

What troubles me... (2.28 / 7) (#5)
by beergut on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:18:36 PM EST

... is the likely disarmament of the Swiss people as they (inevitably) give more sway to the UN.

Once disarmed, Switzerland will cease to be a reasonably free, democratic nation, and because of its riches it will be exploited and threatened by Euro-tinpots.

Truly, I pity the Swiiss, and wish to Hell the US would remove itself from the UN.

UN is UNnecessary.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

UN and guns? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by LeftOfCentre on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 09:21:05 PM EST

I don't understand the implied connection between the UN and disarmament of the citizenry. Can you elaborate?

[ Parent ]
UN's policies, or intents, is to disarm people. (none / 0) (#9)
by beergut on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 11:15:53 PM EST

According to a resolution to which the US strenuously objected, and which ultimately went down in defeat, but which was supported by lots of the other nations of the world, their goal is to "rid the world of small arms, and the traffic therein."

Just a gut feeling I have, but look for the UN to pressure Switzerland to disarm its citizenry in the next few years.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

this is bad? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by nodsmasher on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:26:53 PM EST

dosn't switzerland have a problem with gun related murder and they can't seem to get rid of guns do to inexplicable pride towrd owning a tool of death (like in the us)
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#17)
by beergut on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 12:49:16 PM EST

Switzerland does not have a problem with gun-related deaths.

Furthermore, Switzerland was able to maintain its neutrality because the costs of overrunning it would have been too great, because its citizenry is armed.

Gun deaths in the US, when drug-related crime is taken out of the picture, actually occur at a much lower rate than most of Europe. This is one of the myriad reasons I support drug legalization.

A firearm is no more a "tool of death" than, say, a car, or a knife. It's just a more efficient one, and one that can be used by a weak person to protect themselves against a stronger person.

Some people and their misconceptions...

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

guns (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by nodsmasher on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 06:34:15 PM EST

check out this artcle from the economist guns do kill people (though the drug war sucks too)
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
Sweden can't stand the pressure (4.66 / 3) (#2)
by hbw on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:32:54 PM EST

Interestingly enough Sweden, another traditionally neutral European country, practically gave up the concept a few weeks ago stating that neutrality is now only one of many possible positions it could adapt in an armed conflict.

I wouldn't say that Sweden gave it up. It's more like the current government (Socialdemokraterna) are kind of split, and so they try to satisfy everyone, and the result of that is just a half-assed government, doing a little bit of everything.

From their viewpoint, I think the major questions are these:

* Is it possible to be 'stable' country, with a good economy, a working democracy and so on, without participating in war-matters? (with the counter-example naturally being the U.S, which participates in all wars ;-)
* Sweden is a peaceful country. Should it give up its peace, and neutrality, in order to help and fight other countries out there?

I have discovered a truly marvelous signature, which unfortunately the margin is not large enough to contain.

Request for article (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by murklamannen on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:04:56 PM EST

Switzerland has always been the model democracy in my mind. Decentralised government which votes on nearly everything.
But is this true?
I'd really like to see a feature, made preferably by a Swiss person, about Swiss democracy(how it works, what the people think of it, does it work welle etc.)

Try... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by Rk on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:07:36 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Swiss Initiative & Referendum System (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by LeftOfCentre on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 09:14:28 PM EST

I agree that Switzerland seems like the model democracy. I'm not Swiss, but have some basic familiarity with their system. Citizens can vote on government proposals by collecting a certain number of signatures, triggering a binding referendum according to the constitution. In a similar way, the populace is able to legislate on their own. A good book on the topic is "The Referendum - Direct Democracy in Switzerland" by Kris Kobach. My perception is that most western nations pay lip service to democracy and citizens' participation. In Switzerland, they practice it for real and have done for a very long time.

[ Parent ]
To all those who think the UN is unnecessary (3.40 / 5) (#6)
by psicE on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 07:57:17 PM EST

Often it may seem that the UN is simply a waste of money. And it's true that many of its subsidiaries or related organisations are not just unnecessary but bad, such as the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank. However, the UN has done one very important thing for the world (among others): set up the state of Israel. Without the UN, the Jewish people would not currently have a homeland.

After World War II, when thousands of displaced Jews were in American and British camps, what if those Jews didn't have an Israel to go home too? British-owned Palestine only allowed 1,500 Jews in a month; if Israel wasn't formed soon after to give Jews a right of return, some people might have died of old age from staying in the camps for too long.

The Jews haven't had a homeland for millenniums, and it was due to the UN that they got one. As people say that the UN is useless and redundant, they should remember that.

Oh, yeah .. the UN supported that.. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
by arcade on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:51:16 AM EST

Yeah. The UN should be remembered for that stunt. Its because of the UN there is this crisis in te middle east, with a fascist country like Israel, knifing it out at all times with their arab neighbours.

Sorry, I don't think people belonging to one particular religion should have the right of their own homeland.

And if they should, why on earth should it be located where there already are living people, a place where there are _Bound_ to be wars because of it?

UN showed stupidity within stupidity with that move. If that is the most 'positive' thing they've done.. ohwell, then they are not needed.

[ Parent ]

What if you were Jewish? (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by psicE on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:40:48 AM EST

It's easy enough to say that the UN shouldn't have created Israel if you're Christian or Muslim (by descent). Your ancestors always had somewhere to go; if they were kicked out of one country, they could return to another. The Jews couldn't do that. Israel's re-creation by the UN was the first time that, if Jews were kicked out of other countries (like Germany), they'd have somewhere to go.

The UN never said that Palestinians couldn't stay in Israel. In fact, Israel is, along with Jordan, the only country in the Middle East that lets Palestinians become citizens.

In hindsight, we can say that if the UN had created Israel in North Dakota or Saskatchewan instead of Palestine, the wars in the Middle East might not be going on now. Still, back then, the United States was almost as anti-semitic as some Palestinians are now, and the UN's decision saved thousands of lives.

[ Parent ]
Recipe for disaster (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by yanisa on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 11:19:01 AM EST

You should never right wrongs with more wrongs. It's a sure way of making the problem even bigger.

I agree the plight of Jewish people in WW2 was horrible. However, the Jewish were not the only people destined for extinction by Hitler; my own people, Slovenias, were among them, too, along with Gypsies and others. Did we get our own country after WW2? Did the gypsies?

The holocaust does not give Israel any rights to treat the Palestinias like they do today. Note that the axiom above also stipulates that you can't fix the mess that is middle east with moving the Israeli away, as the Palestinias seem to want.

I'm not pretending to have a solution; I can offer only a way of eventually reaching one.


I think this line's mostly filler
[ Parent ]

UN Resolution 194 (none / 0) (#13)
by Vs on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:01:57 PM EST

So how's UN resolution 194 from 1948 coming around? Last time I checked nobody gave a damn.

On the UN website is a nice wrap up of the issue.
Where are the immoderate submissions?
[ Parent ]

why should the Jewish people have a homeland? (none / 0) (#14)
by sesquiped on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 07:06:46 PM EST

Today, most people in the industrialized world look at any nation whose government is affiliated with a religion as backwards and discriminatory. All except Israel. Why should there be any difference between Israel and the Muslim states? Why do the Jewish people get a homeland but not members of other religions?

But then, why wven support a "homeland" for the people of any religion? What relation do national government and religion have with each other that would make a religious state a good idea in any case?

(For the record, I was born to two Jewish parents and raised Jewish. I still consider myself ethnically Jewish, although religiously I am now an atheist.)

[ Parent ]
race not religion (none / 0) (#16)
by psicE on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:27:35 PM EST

Religion has very little to do with having a homeland. After all, most nations in the world were originally some form of pagan and later converted to Christianity or Islam. People don't advocate a Christian or Muslim homeland, because Christianity and Islam cover a wide range of races and ancestry; what does an Indonesian have in common with a Turk, what does a Mexican Catholic have in common with an Indian Christian, aside from religion?

Jews, on the other hand, never tried to convert large numbers of people, so the vast majority of religious Jews are also ethnic Jews. Just as ethnic Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, etc. have homelands, the Jews deserve a homeland.

The Orthodox Jews do, unfortunately, have a disproportionately high influence on Israel's government, but Israel is not a theocracy. Religious Jews, atheist Jews, and Palestinian Muslims alike can vote and run for office.

The only fundamental difference between Israel and, say, Italy is that, for the time being, any Jew who walks into Israel's borders with the intent to settle is a citizen, while Italians have to apply for citizenship (to Italy) before settling. There is no danger of Italians dying out from the world, while, when Israel was set up, there was a large danger of Jews being all but eradicated from all of the world except America (primarily New York area) and Palestine in small numbers. Also, native Italians would always be welcomed back into their native country, whereas Jews were often turned away from all countries; the only places they could go in the 1930s-40s were Palestine, the US, Britain, and France, and then only if they were within the quota.

Maybe when anti-semitism disappears from the world, then Israel can have a consistent immigration policy. Until then, it's a good thing for Jews who feel oppressed to have somewhere to go to. If Italians were hated the world over and were on the verge of dying out, I'd support the UN creating an Italian state with Italian right-of-return. It just so happens that the Jews were the hated ones. There are other groups, of course, that were oppressed; I'd support a UN-created Roma/gypsy ethnic state (if people of Roma descent wanted to move there), and one for any other groups that I can think of; but that has nothing to do with Israel.

(For the record, I was also born to two Jewish parents; the extent of our religion is to celebrate Jewish religious holidays, and I consider myself Wiccan.)

[ Parent ]
Great job ... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Stealth Tuna on Fri May 03, 2002 at 06:36:25 AM EST

starting yet another isearl/palestine flamewar :)

[ Parent ]
Switzerland votes to join the UN | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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