Switzerland's policy on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation is a cornerstone of Swiss security policy. As the Federal Council stated in its foreign policy strategy for 2016–2019, Switzerland's commitment to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation is a priority theme for working towards greater international security and a just and viable international order.
The goal is to enhance international stability and security by way of effective international organisations and an efficient multilateral system, in a spirit of trust and transparency. In keeping with its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland also advocates for multilateral agreements that promote not only security, stability and peace but also greater respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, relief from the suffering caused by armed conflicts, protection of civilians, and human security in general.
Switzerland uses all resources at its disposal to exert its influence, at both the multilateral and bilateral levels. For instance, Switzerland has been a member of the UN Conference on Disarmament since 1996, has ratified all major disarmament treaties and is actively engaged in relevant international bodies to strengthen arms control and disarmament efforts. As a neutral and non-aligned country, Switzerland has a strong interest in ensuring that compliance with international law takes precedence over political or military strength, as this builds accountability and stability in international relations.
The context surrounding the policy on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation is becoming increasingly complex. This is due in part to the growing multipolarity of the international system and the fact that non-state actors are challenging the state's monopoly on the use of force.
This year's report on the policy on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation outlines the activities Switzerland has undertaken to realise its objectives since the last report in 2012.
One example is Switzerland's efforts to ban and eliminate all categories of weapons of mass destruction, which pose a serious threat to international security as well as to the general public. Switzerland works to uphold the prevailing norms in this domain and to prevent their erosion. This includes active support for the international missions to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, for example, or an initiative to reduce the operational readiness of nuclear weapons. Regarding conventional weapons, Switzerland is committed to adherence to the standards and instruments of international humanitarian law that restrict or prohibit the use of conventional weapons. In this regard, for instance, it calls for new weapons such as autonomous weapons systems to be tested against the rules of international law. Switzerland also campaigns for better control of arms trading and against illicit flows of small arms, light weapons and ammunition; it does this, for example, by supporting activities for their safe and secure management and disposal.
The report places particular emphasis on the challenges that technological progress brings for the policy on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation and presents Switzerland's various activities in response to this. Furthermore, the report sets out the priorities of Switzerland's policy on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation for the coming years.
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