ease arms exports
Security politicians call for “Lex Ukraine”
States have repeatedly put pressure on Switzerland to be able to deliver armaments to Ukraine. However, this is contrary to Swiss law. The Security Commission of the National Council now wants to change that – and quickly.
Published: 6 minutes ago
Denmark was not allowed to transfer Swiss-made Piranha wheeled armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.
Daniel BallmerEditor Politics
Since the start of the Ukraine war, the Federal Council has caused heads to shake abroad. For reasons of neutrality, he repeatedly turned down requests for the export of armaments. Because Ukraine is a party to the war, Denmark was not allowed to pass on Swiss Piranha wheeled infantry fighting vehicles, Germany was not allowed to pass on tank ammunition and Spain was not allowed to pass on anti-aircraft guns.
But now things are moving. After the War Material Act was only tightened last summer, there have been discussions about easing it for months. Even the SP wants to allow exceptions when a country like Ukraine is attacked and the United Nations condemn it. At the same time, the Security Commission of the Council of States (SiK-S) will soon discuss a motion by FDP President Thierry Burkart (47) for easing.
Commission calls for a tailor-made exemption
Now the National Council Sister Commission (SiK-N) is even ahead of her. On Tuesday, their majority of 14 votes to 11 passed two Commission proposals. Both are available in Blick – and they pack a punch.
SiK-N wants to step on the gas with an urgent, tailor-made commission initiative – a “Lex Ukraine”. For example, Switzerland should waive the non-re-export declaration if “the war material is re-exported to Ukraine in connection with the Russian-Ukrainian war”. If the Commission has its way, the change in the law will come into force on May 1st and would initially be limited to the end of 2025.
When the War Material Act was tightened, it was clear “that there could be unforeseeable situations that could require a pragmatic approach from Switzerland,” the commission explains. That was certainly the case today. With the temporary solution, however, rules that were only recently decided are not to be changed again. At the same time, Switzerland would be given options for action “to be able to make a contribution to Ukraine in the western alliance of values”.
Lean on United Nations
The second motion of the commission is based on the proposal of the SP. Exceptions should therefore be made possible in the War Material Act. At the request of a foreign government, the Federal Council should be able to lift the declaration of non-re-export if a situation is involved that the United Nations Security Council has declared to be in conflict with the international law prohibiting the use of force. Nor must it conflict with Switzerland’s overriding foreign policy interests.
Should the Security Council not come to a decision because of a veto – as in the case of Russia’s war in Ukraine – the General Assembly of the United Nations would have to declare a violation of the international law prohibition on the use of force with a two-thirds majority.
Neutrality is not violated
The majority of the Commission is convinced that a “Lex Ukraine” will not violate Switzerland’s neutrality. Because Switzerland itself would not deliver weapons directly to Ukraine. The decision lies solely with countries that have previously obtained war material in Switzerland. The non-re-export declaration would only become obsolete in the case of re-exports to Ukraine.
The SiK-N does not seem to have any concerns about this. So it should be noted that “these are all democratic countries, which for their part have to make a well-considered decision”.
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