Nuclear weapons ban: Switzerland calls for consensus-oriented negotiations and the inclusion of all stakeholders

Bern, 28.10.2016 - Switzerland is actively working at the multilateral level to achieve the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Achieving the desired goal of nuclear disarmament requires the broadest possible support for a ban on nuclear weapons. Because the resolution to launch talks on a nuclear weapons ban did not provide for consensus-oriented rules for future negotiations, Switzerland cast an abstaining vote in the UN General Assembly's disarmament committee.

The UN General Assembly's disarmament committee adopted a resolution on 27 October 2016 in New York to launch negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Unlike biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons have not been banned. Switzerland recognises that there is a gap in international law in this respect. In Switzerland's view, additional legal instruments are necessary in order to implement the disarmament obligation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

It considers it imperative that the negotiation process be inclusive and that a future nuclear weapons ban be supported by as many states as possible because such a ban will be significantly more effective if it is supported by states that already possess nuclear weapons. In order to facilitate the broadest possible participation in this process, Switzerland had put forward concrete proposals for consensus-oriented decision-making mechanisms and had called for the inclusion of all stakeholders.

Because the text of the resolution made no reference to negotiations that would be as consensus-oriented as possible, Switzerland cast an abstaining vote. Switzerland explained its position in its statement on its abstention.

Switzerland will take part in the negotiations, which are set to begin in 2017, with the aim of building bridges and helping to prevent a further polarisation of the international community. Switzerland advocates a nuclear disarmament policy that makes a genuine contribution to security by facilitating effective steps towards disarmament and that also furthers strategic stability.

Switzerland will continue to work for practical and sustainable measures to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons. One of Switzerland's priorities is to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons and specifically to reduce the operational readiness of nuclear weapons ('de-alerting'). Furthermore, Switzerland supports cooperative approaches to verify nuclear disarmament. To this end, it has submitted to the disarmament committee a resolution that has garnered trans-regional support.

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