The Philippine Mission in Geneva is one of the 84 Foreign Service Posts of the Philippines. Six other Permanent Missions are in New York, Jakarta, Bangkok, Paris, Vienna, and Nairobi.
President Diosdado Macapagal, with the support of Congress, established the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UNOG and other International Organizations in Geneva through the Appropriation Act of 1963 (RA No. 3845). The Philippine Mission began operations in a temporary office in Hotel du Rhone on 7 January 1964.
From its temporary office, the Philippine Mission moved to No. 72, Rue de Lausanne, located near the right bank of Lake Geneva. On 15 December 1978, the Philippine Mission moved to its present location at Avenue Blanc 47. The office also houses the Philippine Consulate General, which has jurisdiction over Geneva and Vaud, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, which has overall jurisdiction over Switzerland.
The following served as Permanent Representatives: Vicente Albano Pacis (1963-1966); Hortencio Brilliantes (1966-1986); Rosalinda de Perio-Santos (1986-1989); Narcisa L. Escaler (1989-1992); Lilia R. Bautista (November 1992- July 1999); Samuel T. Ramel (2000- 2003); Enrique A. Manalo (2003-2007); Erlinda F. Basilio (2007-2010); Evan P. Garcia (2010-2013); and Cecilia B. Rebong (2013-2016).
Ambassador Evan Garcia currently serving his second term as Permanent Representative.
PHILIPPINE FOREIGN POLICY
The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides the following foundation of Philippine foreign policy:
The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice. (Article II, Section 2)
The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination. (Article II, Section 7)
The Department of Foreign Affairs, mandated by Republic Act No. 7157 or the "Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991," implements Philippine foreign policy under the following three (3) pillars:
1. Preservation and enhancement of national security
2. Promotion and attainment of economic security
3. Protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.
ADVOCACIES IN GENEVA
As a center of multilateral diplomacy, Geneva is the location of the headquarters of ten UN bodies, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); six specialized agencies, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO); related organizations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and several international organizations outside the UN system, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ICRC), and World Trade Organization (WTO). Geneva is also home to several other UN regional or liaison offices and about 170 non-governmental organizations with consultative status at the UN.
Key advocacies of the Philippines in international diplomacy include the rule of law; human rights, especially the rights of migrants, women and children; disaster risk reduction and management; sustainable development and inclusive growth, including the promotion of micro, small, and medium enterprises; humanitarian affairs; and climate change, among others.
In pursuit of these advocacies, the Philippines is actively involved in various groupings that represent common interests. It has played leadership roles in many of these groups, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the ASEAN Committee in Geneva, the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the Colombo Process, the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, and the Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative, and the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Climate change and the environment
As a country that is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the Philippines is actively involved in global efforts to address and raise awareness about climate change. The Philippines was the President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) from January 2015 to August 2016, focusing on promoting climate change issues in the five focus sectors of human rights, health, labor, migration and displacement, and science. The CVF is an advocacy group that aims to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change particularly on vulnerable countries and, in this regard, join efforts to ensure the speedy ratification of the Paris Agreement and the heightening of climate change ambition.
Several activities, ranging from panel discussions to the delivery of related statements in various forums, were held in 2016 in partnership with the CVF Permanent Missions and with concerned international bodies such as the Human Rights Council, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, World Humanitarian Summit, and International Panel on Climate Change. The Philippines is now a member of the CVF Troika together with Costa Rica, the preceding President, and Ethiopia, the current President.
The Philippines was also the principal author of a resolution on Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction which, among other activities, encourages member-states to develop and implement management plans for wetlands, increase the knowledge base on wetlands and further studying their role in disaster risk reduction, and recognize the roles and potential contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities in wetlands management. The resolution was adopted by the Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention in Uruguay in June 2015.
The participation of the Philippines in various disarmament meetings and conferences is aimed to promote and support international and regional efforts in the field of disarmament; promoting goodwill and amity with other States Parties in complying with treaty obligations; increasing the Philippines’ bilateral and multilateral cooperation through enhancement of capacity-building of various government agencies; promoting the first pillar of the Philippine foreign policy through protection of national security and collective and human security; and acknowledging the importance of implementing different international disarmament conventions with respect to international humanitarian law, such as the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Protocols, Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMC), Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
The Philippines is an active member of the Geneva Chapter of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Non-Proliferation Disarmament Initiative, and the International Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament.
The Philippines recognizes the importance of the various disarmament treaties, especially the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, hence its decision to volunteer and serve as President of the highly successful 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that resulted in the 64 Point Action Plan. The Philippines remains engaged in this process and is pursuing the fulfilment of all the action points agreed upon in 2010 in order to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
Disaster Risk Reduction & Management
The Philippines—whose geography makes the country prone to typhoons, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters—is recognized for successfully crafting and implementing policies both at the national and local levels to reduce disaster risk.
The Philippines was chair of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Support Group from June 2015 to June 2016 at a crucial time that required that the international community sustained the momentum for implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement with an overall aim of mitigating disasters.
As Chair, the Philippines led the group guided by two overarching strategic priorities: supporting the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and linking the disaster risk reduction agenda to other international processes. The Philippines also advocated for mainstreaming and integration of DRR within and across all sectors, including health, environment, tourism, business, among others, which are relevant to the country’s priorities in DRR.
The Philippines is a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization from 2015 to 2018. The Philippine Mission assists the Secretary of Health who is herself the Member of the Executive Board. At the WHO, the Philippines was also the Regional Coordinator for the Western Pacific Region in 2016, facilitating balanced regional representation in the various steering committees, working groups, and ad hoc discussions between Member-States and the Secretariat.
The Philippine Mission promotes and supports the public health agenda at the global level, paying particular attention to governance issues including discussions on Organizational Reform, Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Promoting the Health of Migrants, and the Health Workforce. These issues complement advocacies in the context of ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region, which include Strengthening Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage.
The Philippines has been recognized by the WHO and by Member States as for its leadership in the area of innovative health financing, with reference to the crafting of the Sin Tax Reform law (2012) and how it has been implemented on schedule. The Sin Tax Reform Law, which aims to limit the consumption of tobacco and alcohol by imposing a unitary tax on these “sin” products, was designed not only to serve as a behavioural intervention. It was also designed to fund public health programs by directing revenue collected from the tax toward the projects of the Department of Health. A health law with a revenue collection component, the Philippine Sin Tax reform law is seen as an excellent innovation toward financing the national public health agenda, the Philippines is viewed by Member States in a similar situation as a champion and advocate for both Tobacco and Alcohol control, with the aim of arresting the rising incidence of Non-Communicable diseases.
Technical public health issues of interest to the Philippines include the discussion on Pandemics, a threat that the Filipino diaspora in vulnerable situations face; Dengue and Tuberculosis, communicable diseases that continue to post a significant public health burden; Maternal and Child health and the unfinished agenda of the MDG; and, Non-Communicable Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and preventable diseases that will increasingly burden the Philippine health system if appropriate interventions are not immediately implemented.
The Philippine Mission works with closely with the Department of Health and other agencies to provide seamless coordination between the Philippine Government, the World Health Organization, and other institutions engaged in the public health discussion at the global, regional and country levels.
The Philippines hosts the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila.
The Philippines was elected by the UN General Assembly to a seat in the Human Rights Council from 2016 to 2018. This is the Philippines’ 4th term as a Council member, having served in 2006-2008, 2009-2012 and 2013-2015.
In the Council, the Philippines advocates the promotion of the rights and welfare of vulnerable sectors such as women, migrants, children, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities; combating of trafficking-in-persons; and climate change.
The Philippines is proud of its longstanding history as an active champion of human rights. The Philippines was among the members of the first UN Commission, which drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947. Six decades later in 2006, the Philippines became a founding member of the Human Rights Council. Its abiding respect for human rights is rooted in the national consciousness forged by its historical experiences. Fundamental freedoms and the bill of human rights are vital for the Filipino people and nation, which are held sacrosanct in Philippine laws. Enshrined in the Constitution is the protection of the dignity of every human being and guaranty of full respect for human rights.
The Philippines is a signatory to the eight core UN human rights conventions and other human rights instruments and is deeply committed to carrying out its obligations within such frameworks.
The Philippines successfully took part in periodic reviews (“revalida”) in 2016 in three UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, namely, the Committee Against Torture (CAT), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). The Philippines presented key initiatives and action plans to the Committees during the constructive dialogues.
The Philippines is preparing to participate in the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2017, after successful UPRs in 2008 and 2012.
The Philippines proactively pursues its interests in humanitarian affairs, particularly in emergency preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation. In 2016, the Philippines participated in the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey and contributed to the Agenda for Humanity that outlined the changes needed to reduce humanitarian suffering and lessen the vulnerability of people on a global scale.
Its leading role in humanitarian affairs was also demonstrated in its many different engagements as Vice-Chair of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Executive Committee Bureau (ended in October 2016); First Chair of the Asia-Pacific Regional Group of the UN Consultative Group on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (UN-CMCoord, culminated in October 2016); and Founding member/Steering Group member of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, the follow-up to the Nansen Initiative consultative process. Engagements in these multilateral fora/initiatives are the Mission’s contributions to the international community’s efforts to address current gaps and challenges in humanitarian action and to act upon shared responsibilities for humanity.
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
The Philippines has dynamic involvement in the IPU through its active participation in IPU’s various statutory bodies and committees and pledges commitment and support to the IPU.
During the 131st IPU session in 2014, the then Senate President Franklin Drilon served as Vice President of the IPU Executive Committee representing the Asia-Pacific Region and Representative Mercedes K. Alvarez was elected to the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians representing the Asia Pacific Group. The Forum of Young Parliamentarians was established in 2013 as a formal and permanent body dedicated to enhancing the quantitative and qualitative participation of young people in parliaments and in the IPU.
Members of the Philippine congressional delegation are actively engaged in the discussions of the IPU on women parliamentarians and in the IPU human rights committee particularly during the General Debate on the emergency item with the theme, “Human Rights Abuses as Precursors of Conflict: Parliaments as Early Responders” and at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.
The Philippines continues to register positive strides in championing decent work, with the International Labor Organization (ILO) recognizing it as one (1) of eight (8) countries that have achieved 15 or more decent work programme results, which are concrete outcomes of the tripartite-supported Philippine Labor and Employment Plan on Decent Work.
The Philippines led initiatives to improve the working drafts on Fair Recruitment Principles and Operational Guidelines, which aim to address abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices and prevent human trafficking and forced labor, and the amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, particularly on ship certification procedure and occupational safety and health in relation to measures against harassment and bullying of seafarers on board ships.
The Philippines pursues the responsibility for migrants’ rights protection not only as a human rights obligation but also of economic and social logic of the social and economic contribution of migrant to the country. Some nine (9) per cent of the total Philippine population work or reside abroad. Their inward remittance accounts for 8 to 10 per cent of the Philippine GDP. This financial remittance of overseas Filipino workers, while considered private funds, makes overseas employment among the most important sources of the Philippines’ export earnings.
The Philippines is a firm believer that international migration governance is a shared responsibility of countries of origins, transit, and destination. Embracing this shared responsibility starts with constructive dialogue and the acceptance of states of their obligations as duty bearers of human rights and their recognition of the positive contribution of migrants to countries of origins, transit and destination.
The Philippines, alongside the United States, was the Co-Chair of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative. After a series of regional and thematic consultations spanning two years, MICIC was launched in New York (June) and in Geneva (September). The MICIC Guidelines are a set of principles and voluntary guidelines that may be used by States and other stakeholders in responding to the protection needs of migrants caught in countries in crisis due to conflict or natural disaster.
In the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and international migration governance, the Philippines has held key leadership positions and is a member of the IOM Working Group on IOM-UN Relations. The Philippines is also an active player in the Global Forum on Migration and Development. It is a member of the ad hoc working group on the 2030 Agenda and Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration, as well as the GFMD Steering Group.
The Philippines is also part of the Colombo Process, a regional consultative process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labor, and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, a forum for discussing issues related to temporary labor mobility in Asia.
Trade and development
The Philippines is the Vice President of the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD from September 2016 to September 2017. The Philippines was Vice-Chair of the G77 and China in 2014, prior to becoming its Chair in 2015. Further, the Philippines was chair of the Asia-Pacific Group from August 2014 to February 2016.
The Philippines played a major role in the adoption of the Nairobi Maafikiano or the Nairobi Action Plan in July 2016 during the 14th session of UNCTAD. The Philippines also served as one of the “Friends of the Chair” and was able to secure agreement on all the substantive paragraphs entitled “Contributing to the effective implementation of and follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and relevant outcomes from global conferences and summits, as related to trade and development.” In UNCTAD and other related economic fora, the Philippines champions the mainstreaming of micro-small and medium enterprises in the economy.
In the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Philippines is active in efforts to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, guided by a groundbreaking national initiative that regulates the use of traditional knowledge and other intellectual properties of indigenous peoples and local communities. The World Summit for the Information Society Forum, under the ambit of the International Telecommunications Union, also cited the Philippines in 2016 for its outstanding use of ICT to promote employment and livelihood training by providing a platform that allows easy public access to services such as education and recruitment.
The Philippine Consulate General in Geneva has consular jurisdiction over the cantons of Geneva and Vaud.
Last updated on 22 March 2017