The Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter has disclosed that Switzerland will spend 11 billion francs to fight hunger, thirst, poverty and diseases in the world from 2013 to 2016.

This was revealed by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter during a public lecture jointly organized by the University of Geneva, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Foundation of Geneva and the Switzerland Confederation September 10, 2012 under the theme ?The United Nations and Switzerland in a changing world?.

In his speech delivered at the University of Geneva, Mr. Burkhalter said the Federal Council has requested 11 billion francs for Parliament to discuss, adding that the fight against poverty and hunger forms part of the ?values that the Federal Constitution defines as the objectives of the foreign policy of Switzerland?.

He again explained that the 11 billion francs indicates an ?expenditure of one franc per inhabitant per day in this country, which will fight against hunger, thirst, poverty and disease in the world.? The fund will be used for the development of trade and commerce developing countries. ?The fight against poverty also entails the development of trade and commerce that Switzerland wants to promote and develop, especially here in Geneva because she knows its history, it is the best way out of poverty?, Mr. Burkhalter said.

He indicated that foreign policy is both a defense of legitimate interests and the promotion of values and outlined the five values of Switzerland of which the fight against poverty forms the fourth value. The other values include the promotion of human  rights, democracy, peace and the protection of the environment and resources.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address at the public lecture commended Switzerland for its contribution to the eradication of poverty and hunger in the world. The UN Secretary-General said, ?I am very grateful for such a strong commitment and leadership from Switzerland?s government to eradicate this poverty by investing in people? adding that ?it is a great encouragement to all of us.? He applauded the fortitude and resilience of Switzerland toward increasing foreign aid in the era of economic crisis. ?I commend Switzerland for its commitment to development.  At a time when countries are cutting back on aid, Switzerland is stepping up. Switzerland is increasing assistance, investing in people and leading by example?, Ban Ki-moon said.

The public lecture held at the premises of the University of Geneva marks the tenth year of the membership of Switzerland to the United Nations. Switzerland joined the UN on 10 September 2002 and is the 190th member state of the UN.

By Stephen Yeboah, in Geneva, Switzerland

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