Swiss takes the helm at the UN The Swiss who convinced his countrymen to finally join the United Nations in 2002--after 36 years hosting its European headquarters--has begun his job as the president of the UN General Assembly. Former Federal Councillor and Foreign and Economic Affairs Minister (1999-2006) Joseph Deiss was elected in June after being the only person put forward for the job.
The General Assembly's presidency is officially known as the highest office in the UN; however, unlike current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Deiss will not have decision-making powers. In fact, Deiss likens his role to that of a referee who must mediate between different teams, while also moving the international community (and various blocs in the UN) forward when issues become hotly contested.
Current Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey attended September's vote in New York, calling Deiss' election a "great honour for Switzerland", as well as an important sign of the international community's recognition of the Swiss commitment to advancing security and peace worldwide.
Multilingual Deiss points to his...