United Nations, New York

Priorities at the United Nations

The participation in the multilateral work of the United Nations is a pillar of Liechtenstein’s foreign policy. Below follows a brief description of the priority areas of Liechtenstein’s engagement at United Nations Headquarters in New York:

Peace and Security

While Liechtenstein has never served as a member of the Security Council nor put its name forward as a candidate, it follows the work of the Council closely and regularly participates in formats open to non-Members, such as open debates, Arria formula meetings and other informal meetings.

Armed conflicts take a heavy toll on civilians, in particular women and children, and international law that protects civilians continues to be violated frequently and often systematically. Liechtenstein is a traditional supporter of the Security Council’s thematic agendas and regularly contributes to the relevant discussions.

Liechtenstein consistently highlights the need to strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law, which provides the essential legal framework for the protection of civilians during armed conflict. The Security Council has a key role in preventing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  With a view to making the Security Council more accountable for its performance to the UN membership, Liechtenstein has spearheaded the ACT Code of Conduct, whose signatories commit themselves to take decisive action to prevent and end mass atrocity crimes and not to vote against credible draft resolutions in the Security Council to that effect.

Liechtenstein supports efforts to strengthen the protection of vulnerable and marginalized persons and groups during conflict and advocates for inclusive participation during conflict resolution. Combatting sexual violence, often used as a war tactic or as an act of terrorism, is a key priority for Liechtenstein, with a particular focus on sexual and gender based violence against boys and men, which often remains unreported and unaddressed.

Liechtenstein supports the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), according to which States have a responsibility to protect their populations from the worst crimes under international law (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes). Liechtenstein is a member of the Humanitarian Liaison Working Group, supports the work of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Liechtenstein promotes and supports efforts to improve the working methods of the Security Council to enhance the Council’s performance in implementing its Charter responsibilities. Liechtenstein considers the frequent use of the veto to be strongly detrimental to the work of the Security Council, with negative impact on the United Nations as a whole, in particular when used in a manner incompatible with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Therefore, Liechtenstein is of the view that a veto cast in the Security Council should be discussed in the General Assembly and supports efforts to that end. Liechtenstein generally supports a stronger role of the General Assembly where the Security Council fails to implement its mandate, as it has done with the creation of the Syria Accountability Mechanism (IIIM). Liechtenstein has also supported the successful efforts by the ACT group to increase transparency and legitimacy in the process to select the Secretary-General.

International Criminal Justice

Liechtenstein is a strong advocate for the rule of law and international justice, with a particular focus on international criminal justice. It has supported the International Criminal Court (ICC) since its inception and participates actively 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 as well as the crime of aggression – and thus contributes to ending impunity and preventing future crimes. Liechtenstein support efforts to improve the ICC’s work and functioning.

Ambassador Wenaweser presided over the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda, which agreed on the provisions of the Rome Statute defining aggression as well as the conditions under which the ICC is able to exercise its jurisdiction. Liechtenstein became the first State to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression, for which the ICC has jurisdiction since 17 July 2018. Liechtenstein spearheads a global campaign for the ratification and implementation of the amendments and for increased public awareness of the need to criminalize illegal war-making.

Liechtenstein also seeks to explore other avenues to ensure justice for the most serious crimes under international law, where the ICC cannot exercise its jurisdiction and where the Security Council fails to take meaningful action.

Liechtenstein led efforts to create the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for assisting in the investigation of the crimes committed during the war in Syria – a new and innovative accountability mechanism that has already served as a model in other situations. The IIIM preserves and analyses evidence of violations of international law and prepares case files that can be used by national or international courts that have jurisdiction for such crimes. With the creation of the IIIM, the General Assembly has asserted its role and responsibility for matters of international peace and security, in particular when the Security Council is unable to meaningfully address a situation in accordance with its mandate.

Human Rights

Liechtenstein’s priority areas in the field of human rights include gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the protection of the rights of children, as well as the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, the fight against torture, the prohibition of the death penalty, and combatting transnational crime and corruption. Liechtenstein promotes the participation of civil society in intergovernmental decision-making processes and attaches high importance to the expertise of human rights special procedures and independent experts.

Liechtenstein supports mainstreaming human rights into all aspects of the work of the UN and advocates for more adequate resourcing of the human rights work of the UN, in particular for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Since joining the UN in 1990, Liechtenstein has been a strong advocate of the right of self-determination as a fundamental principle of the UN Charter. The right to self-determination, if applied consistently with international law, has the potential to prevent and end violence and conflict. In particular, Liechtenstein is interested in putting forward models for decentralized and devolved administration and governance that can better meet the needs of communities within a state, with the aim of preventing conflict and resolving tensions. In such a way, the realization of the right to self-determination can contribute to the enjoyment of all human rights and sustainable development, as envisioned by common Article 1 of the Human Rights Covenants.

Sustainable Development

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States agreed on 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform the world by 2030. Liechtenstein is fully committed to these goals and considers SDGs 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) as priorities. Liechtenstein is committed to building partnerships with the private sector and civil society to implement the SDGs.

A concrete example is the “Liechtenstein Initiative” for a Financial Sector Commission that identifies and disrupts illicit financial flows from human trafficking and modern slavery, which affects more than 40 million people worldwide, in particular women and girls. Set up as a public-private partnership the initiative responds to calls for such partnerships from the G7, the G20, the General Assembly and the Security Council and contributes directly to SDG targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2. The Liechtenstein Initiative was developed in partnership with the United Nations University, representatives of the Liechtenstein financial center and philanthropic foundations, as well as the Governments of Australia and the Netherlands.

Reform and Strengthening of the United Nations

Liechtenstein advocates for a variety of reforms at the United Nations, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness, legitimacy and transparency of its work.

Liechtenstein places particular emphasis on the reform of the Security Council, both its size and geographic representation as well as its working methods. With the „intermediate model”, Liechtenstein proposes the creation of a new category of long-term seats in the Council with the possibility for immediate reelection – a proposal intended to bridge the various diverging positions of Member States. With such a new category of seats no new veto rights would be created. In addition, Liechtenstein has put forward various proposals to improve the working methods of the Security Council, including as member of the ACT (Accountability, Transparency, Coherence) Group.

Other reform areas with traditional Liechtenstein engagement include the Human Rights Council and the Human Rights Treaty Body System.


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