Swiss National Council Commission Approves Proposal to Change Arms Export Law, Potentially Leading to Exports to Ukraine

The Security Policy Commission of the Swiss National Council (SIK-N) has passed a proposal to amend the War Material Act, potentially allowing indirect arms exports to Ukraine. The proposal was narrowly approved with a vote of 10 to 10, four abstentions, and a tie-breaking vote by SIK-N President Priska Seiler Graf.

The current law prohibits the re-export of Swiss arms to Ukraine, a stance that has been reconsidered following requests from several European countries. This led to parliamentary motions to relax the non-re-export prohibition.

The commission majority supports relaxing these restrictions for countries with similar export control systems and values as Switzerland, as detailed in Annex 2 of the War Material Ordinance. These countries would face a five-year limit on non-re-export declarations, rejecting proposals for longer or universal terms.

The amendment would allow recipient countries to transfer arms to a third country under strict conditions, including adherence to human rights and non-use against civilians. Re-export is also permitted if the third country is defending itself under recognized international law.

This proposal will now enter a consultation phase, with final parliamentary decision expected by spring 2025, potentially followed by a popular referendum, one of Switzerland’s direct democracy tools.