Letter from the President of Switzerland

(Unofficial translation)

30 October 2012

Dear Peace Messengers,

More than 20 years after the cold war, several thousand nuclear weapons are still deployed. Many of them are on hair-trigger alert and can be fired within a few minutes. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki humanity experienced the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Since then we have known that nuclear weapons can kill millions, maybe billions, of human beings and the consequences of these weapons cannot be controlled within time or space.

Thus the Swiss government welcomes the already reached steps towards nuclear disarmament, especially in the framework of the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the achievements are not satisfying. The need for action is visible given the many challenges of the nuclear issue.

As long as these weapons exist, they are likely to be used again. This would lead to catastrophic humanitarian consequences for all live on our planet. Preventing this from happening is an enormous global challenge. The role of civil society seems especially important to me. This is why we support the campaign for a ban on nuclear weapons. It is an honour for me to receive the paper cranes made by the peace messengers. They have become a symbol of support for a ban of nuclear weapons.

Switzerland, which is a non-nuclear weapons state and has committed itself legally to never possess such weapons, is obliged to act. Therefore, some time ago the Swiss Federal Council decided to put more effort into the issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Swiss government is engaged in pushing for the delegitimization of nuclear weapons as a preparatory step for a ban on nuclear weapons, to be followed by the development of stricter and wider international instruments to ban nuclear weapons.

As a recent step, Switzerland and 34 other nations have pointed out the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the United Nations General Assembly. We called on all states to intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and free our world from these weapons.

Eveline Widmer Schlumpf

President of Switzerland

View original letter (German)

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