The Justice and Peace Commission of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference (CES) opposes the expansion of arms exports from Switzerland and therefore supports the Korrektur, an initiative to “stop arms exports to countries in civil war”, promoted in 2018 by a coalition of parties, associations and religious organisations, including the Swiss episcopate.

At present, the Federal Council, the executive branch of the Confederation, is the only body competent to decide on arms exports by ordinance. Over the years, it has gradually relaxed the rules introduced in 2008 on the export of war material from Switzerland to countries at war.

The latest amendment dates from 2018, when, at the request of the arms industry, it further relaxed the ban on selling weapons to countries mired in war, with the only limitation being that there be “strong indications that the material in question is, given its characteristics, ised in the conflict”.

Hence the “Amendment Initiative”, also supported by Justice and Peace Switzerland, which seeks to ensure arms exports are no longer regulated by government ordinance, but by the Constitution and laws. This would allow Parliament and citizens by referendum to express their opinion and ensure greater transparency.

“The Justice and Peace Commission is convinced that weapons and wars do not make the world more just and peaceful, but that they monopolise the resources that are lacking to build a more peaceful and just world. This also applies to the exports of material for war and security technology”, reads a July 2 press release from the Swiss Justice and Peace Commission.

That is why the Commission supports the federal popular amendment initiative which, it says, “responds better to our concerns”.

According to Justice and Peace Switzerland, a counter-proposal presented last March by the Swiss Executive maintains in fact the status quo which the Church does not agree with.

“Neither economic benefit nor the safeguarding of jobs should prevail in an ethical evaluation of the export of war material. Rather, the primary ethical criterion must be the welfare of all people”, the note from the Commission concludes.

(With reporting by Vatican News)

More on Novena on the Church’s opposition to arms exports:

“Stop investing in unacceptable weapons”: Pax Christi pushes governments to embrace humanitarian disarmament post-COVID-19

Pope denounces in message for World Day of Poor: “Some hands are outstretched to accumulate money by the sale of weapons that others, including those of children, use to sow death and poverty”

In special COVID-19 prayers, Pope expresses hope “enormous funds” spent on arms may be redirected to research

Vatican cardinal deplores on coronavirus: “We don’t have enough masks but there are more than enough bullets”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.