Switzerland

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2018

Summary: State Party Switzerland ratified the convention on 17 July 2012 and amended legislation in 2013 to enforce its implementation of the convention. Switzerland has participated every meeting of the convention and voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017. Switzerland works to universalize the convention and has condemned new use of cluster munitions. It has elaborated its views on several important issues relating to the convention’s interpretation and implementation.

In its initial transparency report for the convention, provided in 2013, Switzerland confirmed it never used or produced cluster munitions, but imported them in the past. Switzerland is poised to announce completion of the destruction of its stockpile of 205,894 cluster munitions and 12.2 million submunitions. It destroyed 24,687 cluster munitions and 1.7 million submunitions in 2017 and 60 cluster munitions and 3,920 submunitions remained to be destroyed. Switzerland has significantly reduced the number of cluster munitions that it is retaining for research and training.

Policy

The Swiss Confederation signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 17 July 2012, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 January 2013.

Switzerland amended its 1996 Federal Law on War Material in 2013 to provide for penal sanctions and fines to enforce the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[1] It also amended the Criminal Procedure Code in line with the Federal Act on War Material. The chief of the armed forces issued a directive, effective 1 June 2013, “that regulates and adapts military instruction of artillery, as well as the technical amendments to artillery systems and simulators.”[2]

Switzerland submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 June 2013 and has provided updated annual reports since then, most recently in April 2018.[3]

Switzerland was among the first countries to propose international action on cluster munitions and its position shifted to fully endorse a comprehensive prohibition during the Oslo Process that created the convention.[4]

Switzerland engages proactively in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has attended every meeting of the convention, most recently the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in September 2017.[5] Switzerland has served as the convention’s co-coordinator on the general status and operation of the convention since 2015.

Switzerland voted in favor of a keyUN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation of the convention in December 2017.[6]

Switzerland has condemned new use of cluster munitions and believes it is “essential” that States Parties meet suspected cluster munition use with a “strong and systematic” response.[7] It has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria several times since 2012.[8]

Switzerland has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2017.[9] Switzerland has also voted in favor of Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria,most recently in March 2018.[10]

Switzerland is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Interpretive issues

During the Dublin negotiations on the ban convention, Switzerland chaired challenging informal sessions on “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party) that resulted in Article 21, a provision that the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has criticized as the worst element of the convention.[11]

In an October 2010 explanatory report on the convention, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs noted that the concepts of assistance or encouragement that are contained in the Convention on Cluster Munitions are not defined in Swiss law or other international law. On the prohibition on assistance with prohibited acts in joint military operations, the report articulated the Federal Council’s view that, under the convention, Switzerland cannot ask its allies to use cluster munitions in the framework of joint military operations, provided that the choice of munitions used is under its exclusive control.[12]

Switzerland’s 2013 amendment to the Federal Law on War Material prohibits the direct financing of the development, manufacture, or acquisition of cluster munitions.[13] The indirect financing of these activities is also prohibited, but with a clause stipulating, “if the intention is to bypass the prohibition on direct financing.”[14] NGOs PAX and FairFin have expressed concern that the wording of the amendment prohibiting indirect investment would “constitute a major exception to the prohibition” and noted that the amendments did not set criteria to identify which companies are involved in the development, manufacturing, or acquisition of cluster munitions.[15] In a May 2017 report on worldwide investment in cluster munitions, PAX listed Credit Suisse as investing in cluster munitions producers and also noted steps taken by Credit Suisse to curb such investments.[16]

In 2013, the Swiss bank UBS announced that following the entry into force of Switzerland’s implementation legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it “will not provide credit facilities, capital market transactions as well as buying and holding equity and/or bonds (including derivatives) of companies that are involved in the development, production or purchase of these controversial weapons.”[17] In 2011, Credit Suisse announced a new policy to exclude companies producing cluster munitions and landmines from its credit, investment banking, and asset management activities.[18]

Use, production, and transfer

Switzerland has never used or exported cluster munitions.[19] According to its transparency reports, the “Swiss Armed Forces have never fired cluster munitions in Switzerland, even for training purposes.”[20]

Under the status and progress of programs for the conversion or decommissioning of production facilities, Switzerland’s initial Article 7 report in 2013 stated that “Switzerland never had production facilities of cluster munitions as such. As indicated during the ratification process, according to a license agreement with the manufacturer, the munitions were purchased abroad and enterprises based in Switzerland (now RUAG Munitions), after adding specific features to increase the reliability of the ammunitions, reassembled them exclusively for the Swiss Armed Forces.”[21]

Initially, in 2007, Switzerland stated that it “stopped the production of cluster munitions in 2003.”[22] However, in 2009 Switzerland issued the clarification later provided in the Article 7 report that it “did never per seproduce cluster munitions” because “according to a license agreement with the manufacturer, the munitions were purchased abroad and enterprises based in Switzerland, after adding specific features to increase the reliability of the ammunitions, reassembled them (exclusively for the Swiss Armed Forces).” According to the clarification, “This process ended in the last quarter of 2004. Since then, no further treatment or assembly of cluster munitions has taken place in Switzerland.”[23]

In the past, Switzerland imported cluster munitions from Israel and the United Kingdom.[24] In 2012, Switzerland informed States Parties that it purchased the 120mm mortar projectiles and 155mm artillery projectiles containing M85 submunitions during arms procurement programs from 1988 to 1999.[25] Swiss military officials previously informed Human Rights Watch (HRW) that 155mm artillery projectiles and 120mm mortar projectiles with M85 submunitions were imported from Israel Military Industries and Swiss firms then modified (“Helveticized”) the submunitions’ safeguards and reassembled the weapons.[26]

Switzerland acquired DM702 SMArt-155 sensor fuzed weapons from Germany in 2001.[27] The SMArt 155 artillery round contains two submunitions, but it is not considered a cluster munition under the Convention on Cluster Munitions because it meets the five technical criteria set out by negotiators as necessary to avoid the negative effects of cluster munitions.[28]

Stockpiling

Switzerland initially a stockpile of 201,895 cluster munitions and 11,615,282 submunitions.[29] It destroyed 3,999 cluster bombs (Fliegerbombe 79) and 587,853 BL755 Mk1 submunitions held by the Swiss air force between 1997 and 2000, prior to creation of the convention.[30]

Cluster munitions once stockpiled by Switzerland[31]

Type

Quantity

Cluster munitions

Submunitions

Fliegerbombe 79 cluster bombs and BL755 Mk1 submunitions

3,999

587,853

155mm KaG-88, each containing 63 submunitions

118,303

7,453,089

155mm KaG-90, each containing 49 submunitions

14,981

1,258,404

155mm KaG-88/99, each containing 84 submunitions

41,661

2,041,389

120mm MP-98, each containing 32 submunitions

26,950

862,400

Total

205,894

12,203,135

 

Stockpile destruction

Under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Switzerland is required to destroy all stockpiled cluster munitions under its jurisdiction and control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 January 2021.

Switzerland has destroyed the vast majority of its cluster munitions since starting the process in December 2013. As of 1 July 2018, it was poised to announce completion of the stockpile destruction as it had destroyed 201,839 cluster munitions and 11,611,490 submunitions by the end of 2017, as shown in the following table. By the end of 2017, just 60 cluster munitions and 3,920 submunitions remained to be destroyed.[32]

Switzerland’s cluster munition stockpile destruction (as of 31 December 2017)[33]

Type

Quantity destroyed

Quantity remaining

Munitions

Submunitions

Munitions

Submunitions

155mm KaG-88

118,283

7,451,829

20

1,260

155mm KaG-90

41,641

2,040,409

20

980

155mm KaG-88/99

14,961

1,256,724

20

1,680

120mm MP-98

26,954

862,528

0

0

Total

201,839

11,611,490

60

3,920

 

During 2017, Switzerland destroyed a total of 24,687 cluster munitions and 1,732,143 submunitions.[34]

In 2013, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection, and Sport and Armasuisse, the government’s arms procurement agency, awarded the stockpile destruction contract to Nammo Buck GmbH in Germany and Nammo NAD AS in Norway.[35] Switzerland transferred the 120mm MP-98 cluster munitions to Norway, where they were destroyed by the end of 2016 via controlled detonation at Nammo NAD AS underground facilities in Løkken Verk.[36]

Switzerland transferred the 155mm cluster munition projectiles to Germany, where Nammo Buck GmbH in Pinnow is destroying them through a process that involves removing the ejection charge, separating out the submunitions, and destroying the metal parts, pyrotechnics, and explosives.[37] By the end of December 2017, approximately 99% of the KaG-88 cluster munitions and 99% of the KaG-90 cluster munitions had been destroyed.[38] Switzerland said the last remaining stocks of 155mm KaG-88 cluster munitions will be destroyed by the end of 2018 and the 155mm cluster munition stocks should be completely destroyed by the end of 2018.[39]

In 2017, Switzerland allocated CHF10 million for national stockpile destruction, adding to the CHF40 million allocated in 2013 for destruction of the stocks.[40]

Retention

Switzerland has retained 53 munitions and 2,867 submunitions for research and training purposes.[41] This represents approximately 38% of the original number that Switzerland said it would retain. In 2013–2015, Switzerland reported it would retain 138 cluster munitions and 7,346 submunitions. Itsignificantly reduced that number in 2016 to retain 84 cluster munitions and 4,672 submunitions and decreased that again inApril 2018 to the current total of 53 munitions and 2,867 submunitions.[42]

Switzerland has not reported if the 85 cluster munitions and 4,479 submunitions destroyed since 2015 were consumed in the course of training and research or simply destroyed.

Cluster munitions retained by Switzerland (as of 31 December 2017)[43]

Type

Quantity

Cluster munitions

Submunitions

155mm KaG-88

29

1,827

155mm KaG-90

16

784

120mm MP-98

8

256

Total

53

2,867

 

Switzerland has said that the retained cluster munitions will be used for the development of and training in cluster munition and explosive submunition detection, clearance, or destruction techniques (by the Swiss EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] Centre) as well as for the development of counter-measures.

The amendments to the Law on War Material allow for the retention of cluster munitions for training and research purposes, but state that the number retained should not exceed that absolutely necessary for these purposes.[44]



[1] Penal sanctions for violations of the convention of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine for intentional violations and up to one year and/or a fine for negligence. “Loi fédérale sur le matériel de guerre (LFMG). Modification du 16 mars 2012” (“Federal Law on War Material (LFMG). Amendment of 16 March 2012”), 16 March 2012. The amendments to the Federal Law on War Material prohibit the development, manufacture, purchase, acquisition, transfer, import, export, transport, and stockpiling or possession in any other manner of cluster munitions, and also the assistance or encouragement of any of the above acts.

[2] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Reports, Form A, 30 April 2014; and 30 June 2013.

[3] Each annual report covers activities in the preceding calendar year while the initial report covers various time periods according to this explanation: “Certain information (e.g. projects in the context of international cooperation and assistance) refers to a limited time period, such as the previous calendar year, while other initial information is not fixed to a specific time frame. Please note the indications on the respective forms.”

[4] For more details on Switzerland’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 165–169.

[5] Switzerland participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

[6] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017. Switzerland voted in favor of previous UNGA resolutions promoting the convention in 2015 and 2016.

[7] In Switzerland’s 2015 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Mine Action Strategy, published by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland explicitly names Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen as sites of cluster munition attacks.

[8] Federal Department of Foreign Affairs press release, “Switzerland condemns the use of cluster munitions by Syrian government forces in the strongest possible terms,” 24 October 2012; and statement of Switzerland, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 24 October 2012. Notes by HRW. At the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2013, it stated that, “Switzerland is deeply concerned about the use of cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines in Syria.” See, statement of Switzerland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013; and statement of Switzerland, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 7 October 2013.

[9] “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 72/191, 19 December 2017. Switzerland voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions in 2013–2016.

[10] “The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” HRC Resolution 37/29, 23 March 2018. Switzerland voted in favor of similar HRC resolutions in 2016–2017.

[11] A United States (US) Department of State cable dated 20 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011, shows how US officials discussed interoperability concerns with Swiss Amb. Christine Schraner Burgener, who served as Friend of the President of the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions. See, “Oslo Process: PM/WRA consultations with Amb. Schraner – ‘Friend of the Chair’ for interoperability,” US Department of State cable 08BERN238 dated 20 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011. The US subsequently thanked Switzerland for its work in securing the ban convention’s interoperability provisions (Article 21). See, “Convention on Cluster Munitions and interoperability,” US Department of State cable 08BERN618 dated 3 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011. Swiss officials note that Article 21 helped to secure support from major stockpilers for the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions “and thereby that article contributed substantively to the establishment of the convention.” They also emphasized that Amb. Schraner regularly consulted with CMC representatives during the negotiation of Article 21. Email from François Garraux, Policy and Military Advisor Arms Control and Disarmament, Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 11 July 2012.

[12] Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, “Ratification de la Convention du 30 mai 2008 sur les armes à sous-munitions et modification de la loi du 13 décembre 1996 sur la matériel de guerre: Rapport explicatif (projet) pour la procédure de consultation” (“Ratification of the Convention of 30 May 2008 on Cluster Munitions and the Amendment of the Law of 13 December 1996 on War Materials, Explanatory Report (Draft) for the Procedure on Consultation”), October 2010, Section 6.2.

[13] A prison sentence of up to five years and/or a fine. Article 35(b)(3), however, contains another qualifier that “If the offender only accommodates the possible violation of the prohibition of funding provided under Art. 8b and 8c, he will not be punishable under the provisions.” Article 8(b)(2) states: “For the purposes of this Act [the] following acts are considered as direct financing: the direct extension of credits, loans and donations or comparable financial benefits to cover the costs of or to promote the development, manufacturing or the acquisition of prohibited war materiel.”

[14] Article 8(c) states: “It is prohibited to finance indirectly the development, manufacturing or acquisition of forbidden war materiel if the intention is to bypass the prohibition on direct financing. For the purposes of this Act [the] following acts are considered as indirect financing: a. the participation in companies that develop, manufacture or acquire forbidden war materiel [and] b. the purchase of bonds or other investments products issued by such companies.” Translation by FairFin.

[15] IKV Pax Christi and FairFin, Worldwide investments in Cluster Munitions: a shared responsibility (Utrecht, December 2013), pp. 20–22.

[17] UBS press release, “UBS amends its policies pertaining to controversial weapons,” 28 February 2013.

[18] Stop Explosive Investments press release, “New Credit Suisse policy furthers Swiss disinvestment in cluster bombs,” 3 February 2011.

[19] Letter from Micheline Calmy-Rey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2009; and statement by Amb. Christine Schraner Burgener, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2007.

[20] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Reports, Form F, 30 April 2014; and 30 June 2013.

[21] Convention on Cluster Munitions Initial Article 7 Report, Form E, 30 June 2013.

[22] Statement by Amb. Schraner Burgener, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2007.

[23] Letter from Micheline Calmy-Rey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2009. Most observers would judge that the activities engaged in constitute “production,” that is, modifying the original manufacturer’s product for improved performance in combat, then re-loading, re-assembling, and re-packaging the projectiles into a condition suitable for storage or use.

[24] Statement of Switzerland, Berlin Conference on the Destruction of Cluster Munitions, 25 June 2009; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form E, 30 June 2013.

[25] Statement by Amb. Urs Schmid, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 13 September 2012.

[26] Interviews with the delegation of Switzerland, Convention on Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 16–20 February 2009. These weapons were also on display at the International Workshop on Preventive Technical Measures for Munitions in Thun in May 2004, which HRW attended, and representatives offered this same explanation.

[27] Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, “Armament Programs 2003−1990,” undated. See also, Rheinmetall DeTec AG, “SMArt 155—Proven Reliability and Accuracy,” June 2005.

[28] Article 2.2(c) excludes munitions with submunitions if they have less than 10 submunitions, and each submunition weighs more than four kilograms, can detect and engage a single target object, and is equipped with electronic self-destruction and self-deactivation features.

[29] The ground-launched 155mm M-109 and M-109 Kawest self-propelled howitzers, 155mm Bison fortress cannons, and 120mm fortress mortars used M85 self-destructing submunitions. They were part of different arms procurement programs (1988, 1991, 1993, and 1999), hence the numbers behind the abbreviation “KaG,” which stands for the German term Kanistergeschoss. Email from François Garraux, Policy and Military Advisor, Arms Control and Disarmament Policy, Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, 23 August 2011.

[30] Convention on Cluster Munitions initial Article 7 Reports, Form B, 30 April 2014; and 30 June 2013; and email from François Garraux, Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, 23 August 2011.

[31] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 June 2013.

[32] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Statement of Switzerland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid. Switzerland previously stated that the destruction of both the 155mm KaG-88 and the 120mm MP-98 would be completed in 2016. Switzerland also previously stated that the last remaining stocks of 155mm KaG-88 cluster munitions will be destroyed by the end of 2017. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 April 2018.

[40] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2018; and statement of Switzerland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 17 April 2013.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.; 30 April 2017; 30 April 2016; 30 April 2015; 30 April 2014; and 30 June 2013.

[44] “Loi fédérale sur le matériel de guerre (LFMG). Modification du 16 mars 2012” (“Federal Law on War Material (LFMG). Amendment of 16 March 2012”), 16 March 2012, Article 8(a)(3).