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Alternativtext	Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and former United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva during negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal.
Negotiations in Geneva on the Iran nuclear deal (JCPoA) are evidence of Switzerland's commitment to international disarmament. (© FDFA)

Arms control, disarmament and combating arms proliferation are among the priorities of Swiss security policy, the aim of which is to increase national security by reducing global arsenals and to improve international stability while strengthening trust and transparency between states. Switzerland is also committed to preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and working towards their ultimate elimination.

As a neutral state, Switzerland has a major interest in ensuring that compliance with international law takes precedence over the expression of political or military power. In keeping with its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland supports multilateral agreements which not only promote security, stability and peace, but also which strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, alleviate the suffering caused by armed conflicts, protect civilians and promote human security in general.

Guiding principles

Switzerland is committed to building bridges between all actors in order to identify pragmatic and ambitious solutions to the challenges posed by the arms race.

  • Switzerland attaches great importance to the ability of international organisations to act and to the development of international law.
  • Switzerland favours legally binding instruments of international law over purely political commitments, and works for the development of new instruments to meet contemporary challenges.
  • Switzerland is committed to universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory agreements based on the principle of the indivisibility of security.
  • Switzerland is committed to ensuring that civil society is included in these non-proliferation and disarmament processes.

Switzerland's objectives

Switzerland pursues an active, pragmatic arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation policy. Switzerland is committed to preserving existing norms, including arms-specific agreements and others relating to international law in general. With a few exceptions, Switzerland adheres to all legally binding instruments available to it, including the following: 

  • First Committee of the UN General Assembly
  • Conference on Disarmament, Geneva (CD)
  • United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC)
  • Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (TNP)
  • Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
  • Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)
  • Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)
  • Confidence- and security-building measures of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Convention)
  • Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM)
  • Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

In the area of non-proliferation, Switzerland adheres to the following export control regimes and codes of conduct:

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
  • Australia Group (AG)
  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
  • Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)
  • The Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC)[A1]

Switzerland attaches great importance to multilateral regimes, in particular those negotiated within the framework of the UN. It is especially supportive of the Secretary-General's Agenda for Disarmament and confers particular importance on International Geneva as a key global hub for disarmament.

Scientific and technological progress also has an impact on the field of armaments, and Switzerland sees it as essential to consider the repercussions of these developments on international law, in particular on international humanitarian law. For example, it is currently engaged in discussions concerning the development of a normative framework for (lethal) autonomous weapons systems.

In the field of conventional weapons, Switzerland is primarily an advocate for respecting the norms and instruments of international humanitarian law that limit or prohibit the use of certain conventional weapons. It is also committed to better control of the arms trade, particularly in crisis zones.

Furthermore, by making military action more transparent and predictable, instruments and agreements relating to military action make for greater stability and mutual trust, and help to prevent the acquisition of weapons, which are sources of destabilisation. Switzerland is committed to this issue in particular within the framework of the OSCE. 

Last update 26.01.2022