Switzerland to ban investment in cluster munitions

Switzerland is poised to join a number of countries that have outlawed investments in cluster munitions, after the Swiss National Council passed two motions on 10 March 2010 to prohibit financial support for the production of all banned weapons. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) welcomed the step and called on more countries to follow suit, to eradicate the double standard of banning cluster munitions while allowing financial institutions to benefit from their production elsewhere.

“The Swiss Parliament has sent a clear message it aims to stop the flow of funding to weapons that kill and maim civilians – weapons such as landmines and cluster bombs that are banned under national and international law,” said Paul Vermeulen of Handicap International Switzerland, a CMC member organisation that has been a strong advocate for disinvestment. “We look forward to finalising legislation that will prevent civilian casualties while upholding ethical investment practices, and hope that Switzerland will soon honour its commitment to ratify the treaty banning cluster munitions.”

Switzerland signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Oslo signing ceremony in December 2008, but it has still not ratified. The CMC urges as many states as possible to join the treaty and begin to implement its provisions this year. The treaty takes effect on 1 August, which coincides with Switzerland’s National Day.

Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand have all banned investment in cluster munition production, while parliamentary initiatives on the issue are under way in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway.

CMC member organisations IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen will launch an update to their October 2009 report, “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions – a shared responsibility” in Geneva on 14 April.