Leading Swiss figures call on Switzerland to join UN nuclear ban treaty


34 leading Swiss personalities from politics, diplomacy, academia and civil society have called on the Swiss government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The eminent group includes two former federal councillors, former presidents and vice-presidents of the ICRC, two former Swiss State Secretaries and several other former ambassadors, as well as the mayors of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Winterthur and Zurich. They were joined in the appeal by professors, experts in international law and representatives from civil society organisations.

The group argues that in light of the recent threats to use nuclear weapons in the context of the war in Ukraine, signing the TPNW is the most realistic way to avoid further nuclear escalation. Adhering to the TPNW would enhance Switzerland's and Europe's security, and restore Switzerland's international credibility and reputation as a champion of humanitarian affairs.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN said: "The Federal council needs to adopt a more ambitious position and join the TPNW. The overwhelming majority of Swiss people want their government to join the treaty. Both Chambers of Parliament, the largest Swiss cities, and now 32 high-profile experts are calling on the Swiss authorities to honour its long standing tradition as a champion of humanitarian law. It's time for the Federal council to act".

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) prohibits signatory states from developing, testing, producing, possessing or stationing nuclear weapons on their own territory. It also prohibits the transfer, stockpiling, use and threat of use of these weapons. The treaty entered into force in 2021; as of November 2022, 91 states have signed it and 68 states have ratified it.

Switzerland played a key role in negotiating the TPNW, however, a signature by the Federal Council is still pending. The Federal Council is currently awaiting a reassessment, which should be available at the beginning of 2023. The signatories of the appeal see the Federal Council's delay in signing the TPNW as unjustified and call for Switzerland to join the treaty as soon as possible.

The treaty strengthens existing treaties on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, helps stigmatise nuclear weapons and outlines a legal path for the global abolition of nuclear weapons. In the tradition of prohibitions of other weapons of mass destruction such as the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, the TPNW is a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons. The TPNW also explicitly prohibits the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and thereby establishes a new norm against nuclear weapons.

Read the text of the appeal in French and German at our partners ICAN Switzerland and watch the recording of the press conference here: