Mission of Switzerland to the international organisations covering nuclear issues

Ambassador Benno Laggner, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the IAEA and CTBTO, shaking hands with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.
Ambassador Benno Laggner, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the IAEA and CTBTO, (left) with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. © Andrew Piatt / IAEA

Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, strengthening nuclear safety and security, promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technologies and strengthening non-proliferation in general: the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Vienna plays an active role in the relevant international organisations and other bodies to advance these objectives. For this purpose, the Mission supports these organisations and bodies, plays an active role in contributing to their activities and represents Swiss interests and policies.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

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The Swiss Mission works with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to strengthen global nuclear safety and security, to strengthen non-proliferation and to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technologies for sustainable development. Switzerland is a founding member of the IAEA. It is among the 20 largest contributors to the Agency’s Regular Budget and the separate Technical Cooperation Fund, and participates actively in the decision-making processes.

The Swiss Mission plays an active role in the IAEA’s policy-making organs, such as the General Conference, which is composed of representatives of all Member States and meets every year in mid-September. Switzerland alternates with other Member States belonging to the Western European Group on the Board of Governors in accordance with a rotation schedule. Switzerland is represented on the Board of Governors for the period 2020 to 2023 by Ambassador Benno Laggner, the Resident Representative of Switzerland to the IAEA.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO)

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Switzerland ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999 and considers this treaty an indispensable element for a world without nuclear weapons. The international organisation responsible for implementing the treaty (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, CTBTO) is operating on a provisional basis in the form of a so-called Preparatory Commission until the entry into force of the CTBT, which requires its ratification by all relevant states.

The Swiss Mission plays an active role in the Preparatory Commission and its Working Groups. Switzerland is among the 20 largest contributors to the Regular Budget of the Preparatory Commission and operates an auxiliary seismic station in the Davos region as part of the International Monitoring System of the CTBT.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

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In addition to working with the IAEA and CTBTO, the Swiss Mission also plays an active role in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an export control regime that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is achieved through the national implementation of agreed guidelines for exports and lists of controlled nuclear items and nuclear-related dual-use items (i.e. items that can be used both for civilian and military purposes). Given its significant exports of dual-use items, Switzerland’s active participation in the NSG is important to advance Switzerland's foreign trade interests. Switzerland chaired the NSG in 1993-1994 and 2017-2018. The Zangger Committee was set up already before the establishment of the NSG to agree on a harmonized interpretation of the nuclear export control provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Wassenaar Arrangement

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The Wassenaar Arrangement is an export control regime for transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. Its Secretariat is located in Vienna. The Swiss Mission acts as the local point of contact.

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC)

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The Mission in Vienna also represents Switzerland in meetings of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC). The HCoC is a confidence-building instrument through which Subscribing States attempt to regulate the spread of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. In view of the on-going development of ballistic missiles and because the same technologies can also be used in civilian space programmes, Switzerland considers that the HCoC plays an important role as a multilateral transparency mechanism. In June 2020, Switzerland assumed the chairmanship of the HCoC for one year.