Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Switzerland in U.N. within months

A Swiss woman casts her vote in a suburb of Geneva  

By CNN's European Political Editor, Robin Oakley

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- Switzerland will join the United Nations as its 190th member within a few months following a victory Sunday for the Yes campaign in the country's referendum on the issue.

Counting was still going on but the Swiss government said the voters backed its call for the country to join the world body, with a majority in the popular vote and across the 20 states and six half states -- called cantons.

Geneva already hosts the U.N.'s European headquarters and other agencies, but opponents had argued that membership would threaten the country's prized independence and neutrality.

The government's position had been backed by most parties, Swiss businessmen and the trades unions.

The Swiss vote in a nationwide referendum on whether they should join the United Nations. CNN's Robin Oakley reports (March 1)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

But opposition led by the charismatic chemicals billionaire Christoph Blocher left the government uncertain until the end of the outcome whether it would carry enough cantons.

In 1986, the last referendum on joining the United Nations, 76 percent of Swiss opposed the idea.

Those seeking to open Switzerland further are expected to renew a campaign for the country to join the European Union, an idea voters rejected last year.

Now that Switzerland has voted to join the U.N., should its next move be towards joining the EU?

View Results


The Swiss, who came down against U.N. membership the last time they were asked in 1986, do not go in for fast-food democracy.

Organising a campaign, getting up a petition and debating the issue in parliament has taken nearly five years. Persuading the nation to seek EU membership would be sure to take even longer.

Its government would like to see Switzerland move towards EU membership. But it won't be rushing that argument.

Persuading their fiercely independent nation that they wouldn't need to lose their neutrality on joining the U.N. was one thing.

Getting such an independent people to concede powers to to the European Union would be much tougher. And the land of the cuckoo clock doesn't do things in a hurry.


• Swiss divided on U.N. vote
March 2, 2002
• Swiss to vote on U.N. membership
January 8, 2002
• Swiss votes to keep army
December 2, 2001
• Swiss vote on capping number of foreign nationals
September 24, 2000
• Swiss parliament legalises abortion
March 24, 2001
• Swiss set to reject EU talks
March 4, 2001
• Swiss reject EU link
March 4, 2001

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top