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Interview by CIRID

Charlotte Meierhofer: “ Geneva must absolutely preserve its international identity and its solidarity with Africa.”


Candidates speak on international Geneva

CIRID - What actions do you envision for Geneva to contribute to the promotion of peace and development for Africa, especially in areas still in crisis (Maghreb, Great Lakes, Horn of Africa)?

I am very committed to peace in the world. Geneva is one of the international pillars of the preservation of this peace. It is an international city, a city of solidarity, a city of diplomacy. Geneva benefits a lot from this image and Geneva brings a lot to the world because of this same image. The diplomacy and solidarity actions towards Africa show that Geneva is attached to this role. That is why I think it is an identity that Geneva must absolutely preserve and consolidate. From a perfectly practical point of view, I campaign for Geneva's solidarity action to be increasingly directed towards all associations and in particular the "small" associations that are active on the ground in Africa. Obviously, the large NGOs based in Geneva are useful, but there is also a need to give more space to small and humane NGOs working closely with the needy populations. With good monitoring mechanisms put in place, Geneva will be able to benefit from their responsiveness and their local control of the field. Areas such as health, education, agriculture and microcredit are relevant to my proposal. 

What place can the African diaspora, together with Geneva and international civil society, have in this design?

Of course, I know the African diaspora quite well, since I myself have been a part of it for many decades. I am proud of the dual culture that the African diaspora brings, which benefits both Switzerland and the African countries of origin. That is why I invite the African diaspora to do two things: first the diaspora must get involved locally, here in Geneva. There is a lot to do in housing, health, integration. The African diaspora must take an interest in the life of the city in order to help Geneva and better communicate its assets. Then I invite the diaspora to engage in solidarity and cooperation with Africa. I myself have created in Geneva an NGO working in Cameroon, the ASMED (Association Solidarity Mother Child Development) at the service of early childhood, including the education of young girls in this country. Such actions coming from the diaspora and supported by the civil society and the partners of Geneva have an invaluable impact in the everyday life of the vulnerable people. This is also Geneva.

Beyond, what can and should be the role of the Swiss Confederation in this context and how do you intend to contribute?

Geneva is a canton like no other, because of its openness and its international experience. Geneva must assume its role and ask Bern to become even more involved in development cooperation. Geneva must support Bern, offer it original ideas and remain at the forefront of Switzerland's actions of solidarity and diplomacy in the world. This is also how Geneva International will remain a popular and respected label.