Switzerland commits to the struggle against anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions

Bern, 04.04.2013 - Worldwide in 2011/2012, some 325,000 anti-personnel mines and more than 150,000 cluster bombs were destroyed. Nevertheless, millions of people continue to be threatened by these weapons both during conflicts and after hostilities have ceased. Switzerland is an important actor in the struggle against anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and the explosive remnants of war, and last year spent CHF 17.25 million for this purpose. Today, on “International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action”, it offers information about its commitment in 2012.

Anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war maim and kill thousands of people every year. Worldwide estimates are of some 10,000 victims. They threaten millions of people in conflict zones and they prevent economic and social development for long periods after the cessation of hostilities. Mine-clearing efforts in the last ten years have reduced the number of victims by a third. This includes Switzerland’s commitment which, since the 1990s, has made a decisive contribution to the work of the international community in this area. Switzerland is one of the ten biggest financial contributors. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) work on the basis of the 2012 – 2015 Mine Strategy.

Since 1997, the “Ottawa Convention” has embodied a worldwide ban on anti-personnel mines, and, since 2010, a similar convention bans the use of cluster munitions (in force in Switzerland since 2013). These are important milestones. Switzerland, together with other countries, will continue to advocate for the universal ratification of these conventions and their application, and in particular work to win over major countries that have not yet done so to accede to the conventions.

In addition to political work at the international level, the FDFA is also active in specific anti-personnel mine projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Senegal, Somalia/Somaliland, South Sudan and Chad. In addition, it is working with a number of partners such as the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and the non-governmental organisation “Geneva Call”. This NGO works with armed non-state groups, providing them with information and trying out ways and means to enable them to forgo the use of anti-personnel mines and clear minefields to protect civilian populations in areas under their control. 

In 2012, the Swiss Armed Forces seconded within the framework of military peace promotion an average of twelve of its members to the UN mine-clearing programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laos, Somalia/Somaliland, South Sudan, and Western Sahara, as well as to the UN headquarters in New York. Their main tasks were to build up local capacities, management and leadership structures and to train personnel for mine-clearing work.

Contacts for further information:

FDFA Information
Tel. +41 (0)31 322 31 53

DDPS Communications
Ms Karin Suini
Tel. +41 (0)31 324 50 86

Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports