Update: 26.03.2009

2008 was Great for the Export of War Material

Exports of Swiss war materials increased by more than 55% in 2008, announced the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) on 17 February 2009. This represents a mere 0.33%  of the overall Swiss exports in 2008. Pacifist organisations including Switzerland without an Army criticise the fact that Switzerland exports war material towards counties in latent conflict, such as Pakistan, in continuous state of war, such as Israel or with little respect for human rights, such as Saudi Arabia.

To export or not to export

Switzerland's cabinet has come out against a people's initiative launched by Switzerland without an Army to prohibit the export of war materials and will not be forwarding a counter-proposal. Debates at the Parliament go on. According to the cabinet (Swiss Federal Council), Switzerland already has a strict approval procedure for arms exports, orientated towards international standards. It said that no state involved in armed conflict – either international or within its own borders – would be able to purchase weapons from Switzerland. Systematic and serious human rights violators would also be blacklisted, as would poor states receiving humanitarian assistance from Switzerland. Regimes likely to proliferate and those who might use the weapons on their own citizens would also be banned.

The Swiss Federal Council confirmed its policy on 25 March, 2009. Out of fifteen demands for war material exportation examined, it refused several addressed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan "due to the unsatistying political context and the human rights situation" in these three countries. 

To import or not to import

According the Seco press release, the five largest overall buyers of war materials were Pakistan (CHF110 million) followed by Denmark (84 million), Germany (81 million), Belgium (79 million) and Great Britain (47 million). On the other hand, Switzerland refused war material to ten countries, including four from Eastern Europe, three from Asia, two from Africa, and one from the Middle-East – mostly due to instable internal situation or having serious human rights issues.

Further information

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