“The days of à la carte cooperation are over.”

January 09, 2024

Take the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which aims to ban nuclear weapons worldwide. Switzerland’s security also relies to a certain extent on NATO’s nuclear deterrent, and that would be a reason for Switzerland not to sign the treaty either. That means there’s a conflict of objectives between Swiss people’s security and their humanitarian commitment. That calls for flexible cooperation between the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and other departments. In this respect, membership of the Security Council is a good training camp for the Swiss administration.

Can you give us an example of this?
Take the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which aims to ban nuclear weapons worldwide. All NATO states and other Western countries, and even Japan – the only country ever to have suffered a nuclear attack – have decided to stay out of the treaty because compliance can’t be monitored and because they see nuclear deterrence as an essential part of their security. Switzerland’s security also relies to a certain extent on NATO’s nuclear deterrent, and that would be a reason for Switzerland not to sign the treaty either.

I can tell you’re about to say “but”.
With reference to Switzerland’s long humanitarian tradition – after all, the International Committee of the Red Cross is based in Geneva – it’s often argued that Switzerland must sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. That means there’s a conflict of objectives between Swiss people’s security and their humanitarian commitment. This conflict has been unresolved for years.

Switzerland has been a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since June 2022. That’s an arena where quick decisions are of the essence again and again.
Yes, Switzerland always has to adopt a position at short notice. That calls for flexible cooperation between the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and other departments. In this respect, membership of the Security Council is a good training camp for the Swiss administration. I’m pleasantly surprised at how well things have worked out so far.

The source of this news is from ETH Zurich

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