Minister talks small states

The foreign minister of Liechtenstein spoke about multilateral organizations and whether small states – such as Liechtenstein – can play a role in global issues at the Elliott School of International Affairs Wednesday.

Claudia Fritsche and Roland Marxer, Liechtenstein’s ambassadors to the United States and United Nations respectively, joined Rita Kieber-Beck – the foreign minister – in the event, sponsored by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Kieber-Beck said being a small state gives Liechtenstein the opportunity to raise issues that might be difficult for other countries to raise, as Liechtenstein does not have a military or any alliances to other countries.

“We try to be one voice that doesn’t have to stick on other countries,” she said. “We are free to have an opinion that doesn’t have to speak in one voice like the European Union.”

Fritsche said also said there are advantages to being a small state.

“On delicate issues we can have quite an independent view,” she said.

Lichtenstein celebrated its 200th anniversary of sovereignty last year. Over the past few decades the country has transformed itself from a poor farming nation before World War II to one of the most industrialized countries in the world. Home to just 35,000 people, Lichtenstein has made a name for itself as a tax haven for international businesses, thanks to its low tax rates.

In the past 20 years, Liechtenstein has become much more involved in global affairs, joining international organizations including the European Free Trade Association, United Nations, European Economic Area and the World Trade Organization.

Kieber-Beck argued the United Nations Security Council needs a new structure which represents the geopolitical character of today’s world. The five permanent members of the council should be required to explain their decisions whenever they use their veto power, she said.

“It is impossible to find a way to reform veto power,” Kieber-Beck said. “We are not in favor of having more states as members with veto power.”

Kieber-Beck said Lichtenstein is a firm supporter of the International Criminal Court, but that the international community needs to work together to better define a crime of aggression, one of the four reasons the ICC could be called to rule on a situation.

She closed her speech by saying she looked forward to working with the United States especially on topics such as the rule of law and promoting respect for human rights and civil liberties.

Michael Brown, the dean of the Elliott School also spoke at the event said, “One of the things that makes the Elliott School truly distinct and unique is its ability to bring people together to discuss international issues.”

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