Swiss president praises UN migration deal

Alain Berset with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday Keystone

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Swiss President Alain Berset is calling the new UN migration deal a “great triumph”. Meanwhile, Swiss parliamentarians are looking into a travel ban for refugees. 

This content was published on September 27, 2018 - 10:35

Berset, who co-presented the plan with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, called it a “great triumph of cooperation in multilateral diplomacy that the negotiations on the pact will bear fruit in these difficult times”. 

Berset, the Swiss home affairs minister who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, praised the pact on Wednesday as the first historic document of its kind that all of the world’s countries worked on together – with the exception of Hungary and the United States. 

The negotiations were led by the Swiss UN ambassador to New York, Jürg Lauber, and his Mexican counterpart. The Global Compact for MigrationExternal link should help to make migration safer, more orderly and better regulated. 

Yet in Bern, parliamentarians want to place additional travel restrictions on refugees. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have approved a measure that strip foreign nationals of their refugee status if they visit their home countries.

This is not in line with international law, as the head of the Swiss office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Swiss public television, RTS, on Thursday. 

“It gives the State Secretariat for Migration the freedom to really prohibit a whole group of refugees from travelling to undefined countries without looking at individual behaviour,” said Anja Klug in an interview. 

Climate and healthcare 

On Wednesday, Berset also met UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a discussion on climate change, which both agreed should be a priority for the UN. Guterres told Berset that he valued ​​the stabilising effect of Switzerland in this volatile world. 

Berset also discussed Iran’s economic relations with the Islamic Republic with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. On top of that, Berset met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for an exchange on possible closer cooperation in migration policy. 

On Thursday, Berset will attend a summit about healthcare in crisis areas and during emergencies.

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