Update: 08.03.2007

Prohibition of exports of war materials: initiative submitted

The initiative «For the prohibition of exporting war materials» – including 109,000 valid signatures — was handed to the Swiss Chancellor on the 21st September 2007 (the International Day of Peace). The initiative was launched by the Organisation for a Switzerland without an Army (GsoA). Thirty-five separate organisations and political parties, including the Social Democrats and the Greens, participated in the organising committee.

The Initiative

The initiative demands the inclusion of an article in the federal constitution that outlaws the export of war materials, including light and small calibre weapons, their munitions as well as intangible military items (such as technology). The prohibition does not affect the export of equipment for the recovery of landmines or the export of weapons used for sport and hunting. The Initiative further calls for Switzerland to devise a coherent foreign policy and to commit itself to the promotion of peace and Human Rights (with particular emphasis on the rights of women and children.)

Parliamentary efforts in vain

In the past, a number of initiatives by the Social Democrats and the Greens, with similar goals, have failed in parliament. The most recent occasion was 6th March 2007, when a tightening of the laws governing the export of war materials was rejected. The Social Democrats’ and Greens’ initiatives demanded that the criteria for the approval of the export of war materials be definitively laid down in law. However the Commission for Security Policy (SIK) and the majority in the chamber were of the opinion that the current principles were satisfactorily stringent.

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