Controlling the transfer of goods and technologies is key to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, uncontrolled trade in conventional arms and the unwanted proliferation of related technologies and intangible goods such as expertise. Export controls help governments implement commitments arising from multilateral arms control treaties, notably the Arms Trade Treaty, Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 1540.
Switzerland is a member of the four non-binding international export control regimes – Australia Group, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime and the Wassenaar Arrangement – which also guide its export controls. Each regime has between 30 and 50 participating states that agree on detailed lists of goods in order to set out uniform export control criteria.
Switzerland controls the export of arms and dual-use goods (which could be used for either civilian or military purposes) based on these lists.
Export controls are most effective when they are applied by all the major supplier countries with as much standardisation as possible. By implementing the decisions of the various regimes, Switzerland is able to meet the obligations and interests arising from its constitution and foreign and security policy, as well as to protect its private-sector export companies from reputational damage and ensure its access to cutting-edge technologies.
Controls on international trade in nuclear goods aim to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and related components. As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Switzerland is committed to harmonised export controls for nuclear goods at multilateral level and exchanges relevant information within the group.
Switzerland has been a member since 1991 and took on annual chairmanship of the group in 2017.
Chemical and biological goods
Switzerland works with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Australia Group towards the destruction and non-proliferation of chemical weapons, and for the control of goods and components used for this purpose.