The Swiss government has been given more flexibility when it comes to approving the export of war material. Both chambers of parliament have agreed to allow the government to deviate from previous restrictions on such exports in exceptional cases.
Against the opposition of left-wing parties in parliament including the Social Democrats and Greens, a center-right coalition approved an amendment to the War Material Act on Monday. This means a new article (Article 22b) will be added to the law.
According to the new article, the government may in future deviate from the previous licensing criteria for the export of war material abroad in exceptional circumstances. This must also be necessary to safeguard the country’s foreign or security policy interests.
Opponents of this amendment say that two years ago, Parliament deleted Article 22b from the government’s counter-proposal to the popular initiative “Against arms exports to countries at civil war”. This was a decisive factor in the withdrawal of this petition for a referendum. They argue that introducing Article 22b now is therefore undemocratic.
Last year, Switzerland exported a record amount of war material. However, there have been extensive debates about how arms exports, especially in times of war, align with Swiss neutrality and the country’s humanitarian tradition.
Source: Swiss Info