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Postulat Eppenberger 89.689, "Gute Dienste zur Informationskultur" ¦ Declaration against genocide

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28.Aug 90   Begleitbrief zum Bericht über das Postulat Eppenberger 89.689

 Where the League of Nations went
and where an unreformed United Nations apparently is heading inexorably,
and details, in French, of a plan of Swiss parliamentarians to do something about it
(Postulat Eppenberger no. 89.689 "Accès à l'information. Bons Offices de la Suisse")

Vers une mémoire culturelle universelle, CORUM paper - 21 août 1990
letter to signatories of Postulat Eppenberger - 28 August 1990
ICESC statement on effectiveness of UN Human Rights Commission - 27 February 1995
CORUM-UNOG letter on past and current UN-related works - 25 April 1995
ICESC statement on indigenous peoples treaties and watch list - 23 August 1995
ICESC-UN Secretary-General letter on budgetary relief - 14 February 1996
NGO Habeas Corpus list (RED LIST; in the planning stage)


      The Written Statement to the United Nations Economic and Social Council of 17 July 1995 said it all in the title:

This followed unbearable developments on the ground in the midst of Europe which the International Court of Justice gravely reflected on in its Order of 13 September 1993 by stating, inter alia, that      This bodes ill not only for the United Nations as an instrument of peace,casting a long shadow over its credibility, its usefulness and its legitimacy.Which is all the more regrettable, as its many Specialized Agencies, as a rule, are doing excellent work and are more and more indispensable.This is the case, e.g., with the International Telecommunications Union ITUand, most importantly, with the UN Library and its Archives. Moreover, it plays into the hands of its numerous critics, chief among them the powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee,The Honorable Senator Jesse Helms, who has been calling for the United States to quit the UN and work for its replacement by a league of genuine democracies (1).

     Whatever the future holds for the venerable Palais des Nations in Geneva,its Archives and Library have all become an important factor of their ownfor conflict prevention, analysis and resolution, for diplomacy and for international arbitration. The UN's growing budget problems constitute a serious menace to the maintenance of the related services. And the on-going efforts to computerize the catalogues of both the Archives and the Library and to provide for prompt world-wide access to this unique stock of informationhave been severely hampered the more so as they continue to lack a solid basis independent of the vaguaries of the UN buget cutters.

     Thus the Swiss Parliamentarians were right on target when, on 8 February 1990, they unanimously adopted a request to the Swiss Government to examinewhich good offices in line with its traditions Switzerland could provide to the family of nations. This was to be in lieu of joining the UN, as a message of traditional genuine solidarity. Indeed, instead of supporting the UN budget with its eventual share of some US$ 15 million, they preferred to help secure the maintenance of all related servicesboth in times of war and peace.Those with a memory, with a vision and an agenda reaching beyond the next electionhave regretted the Swiss administration's initial dismal handling of this initiative.  And they have not given up hope to live the realization of this relatively modest, yet universally acclaimed Swiss good offices project.

In 1998, modern Switzerland will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Perhaps by that time the Swiss leadership, too will have not merely recognizedthe illusions and dangers associated with ill-considered pipe-dreams - such as the uncoordinated and opportunistic revaluation of Switzerland's gold reserves as a means to finance the foreseeably dead-on-arrival seven-billion Swiss franc Solidarity Foundation. Circumstances may thus bring about an early change of mind and encourage the Swiss Government to take advantage of that occasion to go ahead in earnest with this economically - and politically - far more rational and realizable project.


(1)      A mere window-dressing won't wash. Commenting this further surprise announcement of the Swiss Government, the Tribune de Genève of 14 August 1997 said it bluntly in its title: "Le palais Wilson ne suffit pas à fair une capitale des droits de l'homme" (the Palais Wilson is not enough for making a human rights capital).  Indeed, moving the UN Center for Human Rights to Geneva's most prestigious and at great cost renovated plush Palais Wilson - which initially housed the League of Nations -will present an opportunity for the overdue house-cleaning at the UN in Geneva (UNOG) - as would moving a bit further, say to Bonn, Paris or elsewhere, as one discontent observer suggested. At any rate, it will be no substitute, not for effectively reigning in apparently out-of-control UN officials and even less for the host government's prompt and reliable return to visa and other practicesnot reminiscent of WW2 but fully in line with its obligations and more noble humanitarian traditions.  Indeed, if it wants to be taken seriously, the UN must strictly heed and enforce first of all in-housethe human rights it preaches on the public square.  And it must under no circumstance be seen to violate its own Charter, principles and rules inside its own walls,as happened repeatedly and intolerably, e.g., in the case of Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud.  If it did and continues to do so on its own, it may be bad enough for its confidence-inspiring and hope-generating new Secretary-General to personally and radically root out this cancer at the UNOG. But should it turn out that its officials there were allowed to do so at the request of the host or third governments, it may already be too late for corresponding surgery and reforms.  And the surgeon may be left to record the UN's thus accelerated pace to where the League of Nations eventually wound up - in the dustbin of history.

Whatever the outcome there, the Swiss Government has its own independent responsibilities in this matter. Ignoring alarm bells rung by Swiss lawmakers wont make the problems go away.  It would thus be well advised if it were to stop stone-walling and to promptly clean up its own act with more than

To be sure, Switzerland must stand its own ground and vigorously defend itself against attacks from without and within.  Naturally, its Citizens stand by its record - and so must those among them entrusted with public offices.  Its sovereign, i.e. its informed citizenry - and nobody else! - will decide what to do on fundamental matters.  And there is no reason to doubt that in due course it will do what it will consider to be right and decline to do what it will see as wrong - not earlier and not later, not more and not less.  Accordingly, Swiss leaders must not let themselves be stampeded into any move which is inconsistent with Switzerland's historical roots, its traditions and its special vocations - least in the realms of security (permanent armed neutrality), political independence as well as economic and cultural liberties and ties.  In their hearts every one of these leaders knows that they have outlived his/her public usefulness if - instead of promptly and on their own repairing the aberrations committed by some of their agents, e.g. in the Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud and other cases - they find themselves compelled to take recourse to stone-walling, coverup and other undignified and generally harmful behavior.  For that suggests to their co-Citizens also that they are no longer in a position to strictly heed the substance of their oath of office or, worse, they no longer consider it as embracing the above fundamental principles.

Swiss Federal Councillors who are worth both their salt and continued public trust will never forget who is the real sovereign of this country.  Moreover, they will carefully observe and attend to the often obscured undercurrents of history, also in such fields as ethnicity, indigenous peoples and regionalism. They can and will thus not even be tempted to place Switzerland's eggs all into one basket - not on the NATO front, not on the EU front and not on the UN front. Staying outside the largely discredited and perhaps also irreparably damaged political parts of the United Nations system, they will instead develop an infrastructure and supporting rôle for collecting and maintaining the cultural and legal records particularly of the indigenous peoples as a coming focal point of related activities - beginning with the vast and essentially under-used orphaned treaty material commendably put together by professor Alfonso Martinez. Which would be perfectly in line with Switzerland's generally appreciable and appreciated traditions, as even its most vocal foreign critics seem to admit. Indeed, very much attentive to "vox populi vox Dei",Senator Helms, for one, seems to have been favorably impressedby the "Sonderfall Schweiz", i.e. some of the more honorable things typically Swiss,like the world-wide unique votes of a truly independent-minded people on
(a)membership in the UN,
(b) membership in the European Economic Space,
(c) prohibition to acquire nuclear weapons, and
(d) abolition of the national army.
Reflecting over 700 years of democratic traditions and a deeply-rooted keen sense for what it takes to stay lastingly out of other people's quarrels - all these proposals were resoundingly rejected by the Swiss voters in the past few decades.

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