Switzerland without an army: four demands for a consistent peace policy

As long as Switzerland is tolerating the arms trade, financial investments into arms manufacturers and military research at universities, it will continue to bear some of the responsibility for the wars and conflicts of the world. 

Arms companies thrive on global instability and worldwide fearmongering since this enables them to sell more weapons and military goods and to make a profit. However, this logic can be reversed: it is the very existence and distribution of weapons and military goods that actually causes global insecurity. 

Swiss banks and insurance and pension companies have found ways of getting a return on their investments into arms companies. The more that countries use weapons, the greater the return on the investments. Therefore global armament, and thus also military conflict and destabilisation, are attractive prospects to them. 

As well as domestically producing its own weapons and arms, the Swiss arms industry is also abusing the Swiss higher education system so that it can keep developing new military technology which is then sold on to be used in wars and conflicts around the world. 

The Group for a Switzerland Without an Army (GSoA) demands for Switzerland to stop doing business with death, to prohibit the arms trade and investments into arms companies and to introduce a civil clause for university research. 

A ban on war material exports! 

The profit that a cartridge yields is only a fraction of a Swiss franc. But with just the pull of a trigger, it ends a human life. Weapons and ammunition are made for killing people. War materials are supplied to the whole world from Switzerland too – per capita, Switzerland is one of the world’s ten biggest exporters of weapons. Since the relaxation of Switzerland’s War Material Ordinance in 2014, Switzerland is now also allowed to supply to states which systematically and grossly violate human rights. The tinderbox that is the Middle East is one of the main consumers of Swiss war materials. 

This means that Switzerland continues to fuel military conflicts around the world – and thus contributes to global instability and insecurity. Western democracies are also no strangers to wars and to violating human rights set out in international law. No matter whose hands they are in, weapons are always for killing people. 

No Swiss money for the wars of this world! 

Swiss banks and pension companies, in particular the Swiss National Bank (SNB), UBS and Credit Suisse, have a crucial role in the arms industry. They have financed the arms trade with figures in the billions. The SNB has invested in 34 of the 100 largest arms groups. Since 2011, UBS has invested more than three billion US dollars into companies also producing nuclear weapons and cluster munition, even though this was banned in February 2013. 

Generally, the codes of ethics which banks have are purely for the sake of image cultivation and do not prevent them from investing in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Switzerland is intricately woven into the arms trade; figures in the billions are at play. We therefore demand an effective ban on Swiss banks financing the arms industry, and we call for transparency in investment practices! 

Nothing but civil research and teaching! 

At Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), a multitude of people are commissioned by the arms industry and the military for the purpose of research and development. The University of Bern, for example, conducts studies on ballistics for the German Armed Forces to enable them to produce ever more effective weapons. The ETH is commissioned and funded by the US Air Force to carry out research into enhancing the performance of fighter jets. The University of Zurich has conducted research into facilitating searches in large data sets. 

Using tax money and the money from arms companies, public universities and their students research how to further develop deadly weapons and widen the scope of surveillance. Our universities are therefore directly involved in armament and warmongering. We demand a civil clause: a voluntary agreement by the universities to research and teach exclusively for civil and peaceful purposes. 

Get military fanatics out of federal parliament! 

The production and funding of weapons is regulated by law. It is up to parliament to decide on this law. The Swiss Federal Assembly could more strictly regulate weapon production or ban the exporting of war materials entirely. With the aid of legal restrictions, the financing of weapons manufacturers by the Swiss financial centre could also be impeded or prevented. However, the Swiss parliament is governed by the arms lobby who want to profit from war. 

The lobbyists act as a lubricant in the arms industry

Many members of parliament maintain direct relations with the arms lobby. Leo Müller of the National Assembly of the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland (CVP) provides the CEO of Pilatus Aircraft with a gateway to the federal house of parliament. Both the current domestic boss of the Zurich-based newspaper NZZ and the general secretary of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) are former employees of Farner, a PR company of the arms lobby. There are many areas in which we are still left in the dark: we demand transparency!