Today: Tuesday, 28 May 2024 year

Switzerland may abandon the ban on arms exports to warring countries.

Switzerland may abandon the ban on arms exports to warring countries.

Swiss authorities have begun consultations to lift the ban on arms exports, according to a statement on the website of the country’s Federal Council.

“The Federal Council on 15 May 2024 opened a consultation procedure on amendments to the Federal Law on Military Property (LFMG). It introduces a new article giving the Federal Council exclusive jurisdiction, which allows it, in exceptional circumstances, to deviate from the criteria for authorizing the export of weapons when this require significant foreign policy or security interests. The Federal Council will continue to be responsible for compliance with Switzerland’s international obligations, in particular the law on neutrality,” the document says.

It is clarified that the application of exclusive jurisdiction may, for example, “be necessary” for the export of spare parts and assembly elements within the framework of industrial cooperation between Swiss subcontractors and arms companies from partner states “suddenly” involved in an armed conflict. Consultations will last until September 4.

Article 22a of the Swiss military property law prohibits the export of weapons to countries involved in war, violating human rights, or if there is a risk that they will be used against civilians. In addition, the restriction applies if there is a possibility that weapons will end up in an “undesirable country.”

In May 2023, the Security Policy Commission of the Cantonal Council (Senate) proposed introducing a new article 22b, allowing for a derogation from the criteria that a state must meet in order for Switzerland to export weapons there. In August, the government supported this initiative. In November, the Security Policy Commission of the Grand Chamber of Parliament voted for this amendment, which cannot be applied to Ukraine.

The Swiss Constitution stipulates that the government and parliament ensure the maintenance of neutrality. The country’s authorities have previously, citing this principle, rejected requests from Germany, Spain and Denmark to re-export ammunition produced in the confederation to Ukraine.