The participation in the multilateral work of the United Nations is an important pillar of the foreign policy of Liechtenstein. Below, a brief description of the most important priority areas of Liechtenstein’s activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York:
Liechtenstein actively advocates a variety of reforms at the United Nations, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness, legitimacy and transparency of its work. For example, Liechtenstein has submitted a compromise proposal in the on-going negotiations on the expansion of the UN Security Council. For the past several years, UN Member States have been unable to agree if new permanent seats should be created or if there should be merely an increase in the number of elected two-year seats. Liechtenstein proposes the creation of an additional category of longer-term seats, with terms of office of 8-10 years and the possibility of immediate re-election (‘quasi-permanent’ seats). In the opinion of Liechtenstein, the improvement of the working methods of the Security Council is even more important than expansion. Liechtenstein is a member of the S-5 Group (together with Costa Rica, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland), which engages in a dialogue with members of the Security Council and all other UN Member States in order to bring about improvements in the working methods of the Council. The group has already been able to effect some such improvements.
For some years, Liechtenstein has advocated a reform of the Human Rights system of the UN. Liechtenstein was a key actor in the creation of the Human Rights Council (2006). Furthermore, in the spring of 2011, Ambassador Wenaweser facilitated the General Assembly negotiations on the review of the Human Rights Council. Liechtenstein also takes an active part in the reform of the treaty bodies of UN Human Rights instruments.
An important concern in the area of reform is the relationship of the UN to the Group of 20 (G20), which has, in the past years, taken a central role in the area of international financial and economic governance. Liechtenstein is a member of the informal Global Governance Group (3G), which works to achieve a better working relationship between the UN and the G20. It demands greater transparency and legitimacy of G20 decisions through strengthening the role of the UN in the areas of finance and economics.
Alongside its efforts to reform the United Nations, the Liechtenstein delegation also participates actively in the intergovernmental work of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with human rights. Liechtenstein’s priorities are the protection and strengthening of the rights of women and children as well as combatting violence against women and children. Ending a culture of impunity for crimes against women and children, the active promotion of the equality of women as well as the participation of children are central to these efforts. Further priority areas in the field of human rights are the protection of the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons and of those living with HIV/AIDS, the fight against torture, the prohibition of the death penalty, combatting transnational crime and corruption, as well as the advocacy of the freedom of expression and religion. Liechtenstein appreciates the participation of NGOs in intergovernmental decision-making processes and attaches special value to the expertise of independent special rapporteurs. Liechtenstein therefore has an express interest in engaging with representatives of civil society and holders of UN mandates.
In the areas of peace and security and counterterrorism, the Permanent Mission in New York is an important link between the work and decisions of the Security Council and the authorities in Liechtenstein. Council decisions, such as those concerning financial sanctions against persons responsible for threats to international peace and security and measures in the fight against the financing of terrorism, have a direct effect on the financial centre of Liechtenstein and must be implemented. Such activities are coordinated by the Financial Intelligence Unit, which is responsible for internationally recognized implementation and effective controls in this area. The Liechtenstein delegation transmits reports to the various subsidiary bodies of the Security Council, e.g. the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) and the sanctions committees, to enable them to consider the efficacy of such measures. In this connection, Liechtenstein regularly emphasizes the importance of protecting human rights and preserving due process in the fight against terrorism.
Liechtenstein supports the International Criminal Court (ICC) and participates intensively in the work of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC. The Court is responsible for prosecuting the most serious crimes under international law (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression) and thus contributes to ending impunity and preventing future crimes.
Ambassador Wenaweser was President of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC from 2008 to 1011, and, in this capacity, presided over the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda. At the Conference, States Parties were able to agree to a historical compromise on the definition of aggression (essentially a use of force of a State against another State that grossly violates international law) as well as the conditions under which the ICC will be able to exercise its jurisdiction over this crime starting in 2017. This advance in international law was prepared through a ten-year negotiating process, which was led by Liechtenstein from 2003 to 2010.
This success was made possible through collaboration with the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination of Princeton University, which hosted a series of intersessional negotiations between 2004 and 2009.
On 8 May 2012, Liechtenstein became the first State to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute on the Crime of Aggression. Liechtenstein has since joined with the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression to spearhead a global campaign to encourage and support States in ratifying and implementing the amendments and to raise public awareness.
Respect for and development of international law is of special interest to small states, as international law forms an important counterweight to the doctrine of “might makes right.” Liechtenstein participates keenly in the legislative work of the UN General Assembly, especially in the framework of the Sixth Committee (legal affairs). Liechtenstein actively works to advance the rule of law. In response to a joint Liechtenstein–Mexico initiative, the General Assembly has taken up the topic of “the rule of law at the national and international level” in its agenda. A resolution on this topic, facilitated by Liechtenstein and Mexico, is adopted on an annual basis (most recently in the 65th Session).
Liechtenstein is a member of the Humanitarian Liaison Working Group, a group of donor countries that follows and supports the work of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Special attention is paid to the efficacy of the consolidated appeals process through which OCHA raises funds for populations in emergency situations. Liechtenstein is one of the most important donor countries of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which was established at the 2005 World Summit. Liechtenstein does not limit itself to supporting the coordination work of OCHA, however, but also supports individual agencies through voluntary contributions, e.g. the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
In this connection, the protection of civilians during and after armed conflicts, and especially the protection of women and children, is of special concern. Liechtenstein is therefore actively involved in the “Friends of Children in Armed Conflict” and the “Friends of Women, Peace and Security”. Both groups work for better protection mechanisms within the UN system. In cooperation with its partners, Liechtenstein also contributes its own initiatives. For example, the Permanent Mission supported the production of a charity CD for child soldiers. Liechtenstein also supports an NGO project that transmits monthly action points to the Security Council to help it better implement its own standards in the area of Women, Peace and Security in country-specific situations.
Liechtenstein, together with other likeminded States, promotes the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). According to this principle, which was adopted by the World Summit in 20005, each State has a responsibility to protect its population from the worst crimes under international law (genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes). If a State cannot fulfil this responsibility, the international community, and especially the UN Security Council, has a role to play.