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Switzerland’s First Chamber in favour of joining Nuclear Ban Treaty without delay

Bern, 5 June – The lower house of Switzerland’s parliament, the National Council, adopted a motion today calling on the Government to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as soon as possible and submit it to Parliament for ratification. A majority of Swiss MPs from all political parties voted in favour of the motion, reaffirming Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition.

“We are extremely pleased that the members of the National Council let themselves be guided by our humanitarian values in this important matter,” said Annette Willi of ICAN Switzerland. “The support from representatives from all political parties is a testament to the strong public interest and the urgency of this issue.”

The Presidents of the International Committee of the Red Cross and of the Swiss Red Cross recently called on the Swiss Parliament not to break with its humanitarian tradition in this matter.

ICAN Switzerland congratulated Socialist MP Carlo Sommaruga on introducing the motion in December 2017, together with MPs from all political parties represented in the National Council, and thanked the MPs who voted in favour in this important matter.

At a time of serious international tensions, with politicians openly threatening to use nuclear weapons, this decision sends a clear message: nuclear weapons are unacceptable; they must be prohibited like the other weapons of mass destruction.

Against this backdrop, the TPNW represents a beacon of hope and an essential stepping stone on the path toward a nuclear weapons free world. With the support of a majority of states, including Switzerland, this Treaty can mark a historical turning point towards the end of the nuclear era.

Switzerland participated in the Treaty’s negotiation and voted in favour of it at the UN last July. The Swiss Government acknowledges that the prohibition of nuclear weapons is in accordance “with core interests and traditional values of Switzerland, including its security interests”. The Treaty strengthens existing disarmament and non-proliferation instruments and reinforces a rules-based international order that contributes to the security of all.

Nevertheless, the Swiss Government did not back the motion. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ignazio Cassis, said in February that he wanted to hold off deciding whether or not to join the Treaty until after an internal analysis of the instrument had been completed. The results of that analysis are expected to be available before the fall, when the second chamber of Parliament votes on the motion.

“Today’s vote was important for Switzerland’s reputation and to reaffirm its neutrality,” said Annette Willi.  “The majority of states support this Treaty. How could Switzerland continue to be a credible bridge-builder in multilateral disarmament whilst remaining outside of this historic UN agreement? Switzerland must show leadership and sign the Treaty without further delay.”