Further development of military peace support: Implementation status
Bern, 17.12.2021 - The Federal Council wants to further develop Switzerland's participation in military peace support and place even greater emphasis on high-quality contributions. The DDPS drew up a report containing concrete recommendations on this issue in November 2020, and the Federal Council instructed the DDPS and the FDFA to implement these recommendations. At its meeting on 17 December 2021, the Federal Council took note of the progress made so far and instructed the DDPS to submit by October 2022 a bill for consultation regarding partial revision of the Armed Forces Act.
Switzerland has participated in military peace support missions since 1953. The international environment in which such operations take place has changed considerably over the past 15 years or so, and with it the demand for military services. The November 2020 report highlights the areas in which the Swiss Armed Forces can develop their contributions to military peace support going forward, expanding their focus geographically. It also confirms the importance of focusing on high-quality contributions. Switzerland's main contribution to peacekeeping is in UN missions.
The report contains eight recommendations. Since it was published, the DDPS along with the FDFA has carried out in-depth analyses and begun implementing the recommendations. Certain aspects require a revision of the Armed Forces Act, so the Federal Council has instructed the DDPS to prepare a bill for consultation by autumn 2022. The proposed amendments are as follows:
• The Federal Council will have the authority to deploy up to ten armed individuals for self-defence and assistance in self-defence if this is required for security reasons or if the UN requires it; Parliament is to retain the authority to decide on the deployment of armed contingents.
• Members of the armed forces will now be able to conduct civil support services abroad, providing military expertise as army representatives in support of the FDFA in peace processes outside of missions mandated by the UN or OSCE. These are unarmed missions by individual armed forces specialists to provide military advice; Peace processes outside UN or OSCE mandates may arise when parties to a conflict request Switzerland to mediate in the early stages of the peace process or to avert a crisis. Such processes often take place in regions and states where the armed forces enjoy a high degree of influence or social status.
The other recommendations can be implemented within the current statutory framework. The Federal Council has taken note of the progress already made, such as improvements in training and the introduction of more flexible employment conditions to encourage the recruitment of enough specialists for military peacebuilding missions. The following specific measures are now being implemented:
• A special 'international' career path is intended to enable women to complete regular training as army officers and then to be deployed on several UN missions without any obligation to remain in the Armed Forces afterwards.
• Thanks to adapted training, militia members who volunteer for longer peace support missions are now also able to take on functions that were previously reserved for professional members of the Armed Forces.
• A legal review has shown that the Swiss Armed Forces may in principle participate in EU training missions, provided these are related to a UN mandate. However, each case should be assessed individually.
Furthermore, in the medium to long term Switzerland wants to be in a position to offer the UN additional military services for peace support that are in particular demand. Specifically, this means:
• Switzerland now participates in the UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and has registered three company-sized units this summer. Until now, Switzerland had only deployed individuals such as military observers and staff officers in this system. The UN can now consider these deployments in its operational planning. However, Switzerland is still free to decide in each specific case whether it wants to provide these military assets for deployment.
• Going forward, Switzerland intends to provide even more airlift capabilities with helicopters in international peace missions. This will be taken into account in future procurement planning, particularly in view of the planned replacement of the existing Super Puma and Cougar fleets, due to take place towards the end of this decade.
• Analyses have shown that states that provide the UN with reconnaissance drones have a great need for specialists in image evaluation. This gives Switzerland the opportunity to provide the UN with evaluation officers, who can be integrated into the contingents of those countries that themselves provide reconnaissance drones.
Address for enquiries
Deputy Head of DDPS Communications / DDPS Spokesperson
+41 58 484 26 17
The Federal Council
General Secretariat DDPS
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs