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Country Reports
SWITZERLAND, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Switzerland signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. In signing for the Swiss Confederation, President Flavio Cotti emphasized three key points during his speech to the Conference: “The first point is the need to obtain universal acceptance of the agreement?.The second area we need to address is implementation of the agreement?.All nations must work together to help those faced with the enormous task of mine clearing and above all helping the victims?.It is crucially important - and this is my third key point - that this ban is not merely circumvented in the future by the deployment of other weapons with comparable effects of the development of new technologies.”[1]

Switzerland ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 24 March 1998 and deposited its instrument of ratification in New York the same day. The Treaty was ratified within 3 months, even though ratification procedures in Switzerland usually last for several years. Switzerland, under Article 18, committed itself to immediately abide by Article 1 of the Convention until the Mine Ban Treaty comes into effect.

Switzerland has not always been in the front line of the battle against mines. In May 1996, during the final session of the CCW review conference in Geneva, it supported language regarding the continued use of “smart” mines and long transition periods before new restrictions take effect. Yet not long after, government policy changed and Switzerland became firmly committed to the Ottawa process. This political change was due in large part to the pressure generated by public opinion against these weapons which grew as a result of the strongly critical campaign led by the Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL) and that pursued by the ICRC whose headquarters are in Geneva. These efforts helped convince the Swiss Parliament to pass legislation in favor of a total ban on 6 December 1996, making it the third country in the world to enact a domestic ban. Switzerland joined the leading group of countries fighting against mines.

The Swiss law is not just specific to APMs, but a broader law concerning war materiel. The section specific to antipersonnel mines forbids the development, manufacture, procurement as an intermediary, acquiring, passing on to any person, importing, exporting, transporting, storing or possessing antipersonnel mines. Its definition includes devices both designed or adapted to function as APMs, therefore the Swiss prohibition is broader than the Mine Ban Treaty. Initially, this was not the case. Despite strong criticism from the SCBL, the first definition of APMs contained in the law included the word “primarily.”[2] But, in order to coincide with the definition in the Mine Ban Treaty, a motion to modify the law was passed in the Parliament on 4 March 1998, and the word “primarily” was removed from the definition.[3]

The Swiss law does not encompass antivehicle mines with anti-handling devices, even when such devices cause them to function as APMs when an individual unintentionally disturbs them. The diplomatic record of the MBT negotiations indicates that such weapons would be prohibited under the Treaty.[4] The Swiss Campaign is pressing the government to modify the national law without delay in order to have it coincide with the diplomatic understanding concerning antivehicle mines with anti-handling devices.

Switzerland was an active member of the core group of governments that led the Ottawa Process and took responsibility for developing and promoting the treaty. During the negotiations of the treaty, the Swiss delegation proposed that the number of ratifications for the Mine Ban Treaty to enter into force should be reduced to 20 countries. This proposal was introduced in order to counterbalance a proposal by other countries who wanted this critical number to be 60. Of course, the number of ratifications necessary for entry into force was ultimately decided as 40. One rather curious point is that the SCBL was able to get the government to raise the issue of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices as a concern vis-a-vis the MBT, only to have Switzerland not deal with the problem in its domestic law.

Switzerland has already begun to draw up the report for the UN General Secretary as required by the MBT. The government intends to hand it over officially and make it public during the Maputo Conference in Mozambique, some four months before it is required under the Treaty. Until then, the Swiss authorities have been reluctant to release data for the Landmine Monitor, in the belief that the Treaty’s trustee ought to be the first to receive the information. After several negotiating sessions with the Swiss Campaign, some information has been provided, which is included in this report.[5]

Switzerland ratified and deposited amended Protocol II of the CCW on 24 March 1998.

During the Ottawa process, Switzerland opposed dealing with the mines question within the Conference on Disarmament in order to avoid the risks both of undermining the Mine Ban Treaty and that action in the CD would allow governments to not support the Ottawa Process in favor of a less restrictive regime.. Switzerland opposes tackling the subject of a transfer ban within the CD if the definition is not the same as that of the Ottawa Treaty.


In the past, Switzerland produced antipersonnel mines as well as some components. From 1967 to 1969, stake mines and Type 64 bounding mines were produced at a government-controlled facility. The quantities, costs and technical characteristics of these mines are unknown.[6] Switzerland also produced detonators for antipersonnel mines, for antitank mines and for sea mines, however it has been impossible to gather information about them. An answer made to a member of parliament by the Federal Council on 16 June 1993 stated, “Two firms produce detonators for mines in the field of artillery. One of them manufactures detonators for armor mines, and the other for floating mines.” In the 1980s two firms, Dixi and Relhor, manufactured micro-engineering and micro-electronic devices for antipersonnel mines. Relhor produced delayed action devices.[7]

Switzerland was involved in the transit of explosives between Bofors in Sweden and Valsella in Italy through a Swiss office based in Geneva, Cofitec and Casalee AG in Zürich.6 The Geneva-based firm Tavaro, S.A. manufactured self-neutralizing and self-destruction mechanisms for antipersonnel mines [8] In 1996, the Dixi was offering self-destruction devices for mines. For years, the company Ems-Patvag, belonging to a Swiss member of parliament Christoph Blocher, has manufactured detonators. His group is also in control of another firm which produces explosives in Döttikon, Switzerland.

With the Swiss law, all production of mines and mine components has ceased. Switzerland does not produce Claymore mines. With the end of production, there was no conversion program concerning production activities. These sectors just closed, because the production was not very important.

Regarding components, Switzerland does not produce any component devised to be part of antipersonnel mines; manufacturing for this is expressly forbidden by the Swiss law. The law specifies that such activity would be punished by imprisonment for a maximum of ten years if an individual intentionally: a) develops, manufactures, procures as an intermediary, acquires, passes on to any person, imports, exports, transports, stores or possesses antipersonnel mines, b) incites another person to commit any of the acts mentioned under paragraph a); or c) aids or abets the execution of any of the acts mentioned under paragraph a). Thus the manufacturing of components comes within the provisions of paragraphs b and c.

Switzerland neither produces nor does research into developing munitions that might have the same effects as antipersonnel mines. Research is being carried out in electronic closed-circuit devices as a possible alternative to antipersonnel mines.[9] Finally Switzerland did not license production of mines in other countries, nor transfer production technology to another country. The Swiss law provides for severe sanctions in case of infringement of the law: imprisonment for a maximum of ten years and a maximum fine of five million francs may be imposed. The law has no specific verification mechanism, but the Swiss NGOs keep a watchful eye on weapons manufacture and are ready to denounce publicly any infringement of the law.


On 11 May 1994 Switzerland announced a moratorium on the export of mines and components to non-signatories of Protocol II of the CCW. This moratorium was superseded by the December 1996 ban. Switzerland is not likely to have exported antipersonnel mines. On the other hand for several years, detonators and explosives were exported. In Switzerland export authorization is not required to export explosives.

Regarding imports, in 1958-59, Bofors sold AP mines to Switzerland. They were delivered until 1964. In 1964 and 1965 Switzerland imported Type 63 bounding mines from Germany.[10] The amounts and the costs are unknown. In 1970 Switzerland purchased 12 Claymores (M18A1) from the United States. This purchase was to test the reliability and efficiency of the mine. These mines were destroyed.

In 1992, Switzerland transferred bounding mines (type 64) to Austria to Sudsteirische Metallindustrie Gmbh (SMI) for destruction. These mines had become old and obsolete.[11] In 1993 Switzerland transferred 88,376 Type 49 antitank mines for destruction to this company.

Finally concerning transit, Swiss law forbids the transit of any mines through its territory, including those for any peackeeping operations or the UN. In 1996 and on demand of the Swiss government, the first law permitted this kind of transit but, further to an amendment introduced by the Swiss CBL, such exceptional authorizations were deleted from the law by a vote in the Parliament. The policy is clear: no mine shall either exist on or pass through Swiss territory.


All stocks have been destroyed and no mines were retained for training or any other purpose. Destruction of all APM stocks was completed in December 1997.

The following mines were destroyed:

- Bounding mine, Type 63: the whole stock has been destroyed (numbers unknown, military secret);

- Bounding mine, Type 64: the whole stock was destroyed in Austria (numbers unknown, military secret);

- Antitank mine, Type 49: the entire stock of 88,376 mines was destroyed in Austria.

- Type 59: the entire stock of three million mines was destroyed in Switzerland over a period of 3 years. These mines were dismantled and their explosive recycled. The 8 employees of a highly specialized firm achieved the task.[12]

Costs of the destruction:

- Bouncing mines, Type 63, in 1993: US$1 million;

- Bouncing mines, Type 64, from 1992 to 1994: US$3.7 million;

- Type 49: (unknown cost); and

- Type 59, from 1994 to 1997: US$3.6 million.

There has been no independent verification of the destruction of these stocks.

Switzerland retains Claymore mines whose name was changed after removal and destruction of their tripwires (at the beginning of 1996). They are now called: “charges dirigées 96 légères” (96 directional fragmentation explosives) The number in stock is unknown. But, in 1991 Switzerland bought FFV 013 Claymore-type mines worth US$17 million from Bofors in Sweden.[13]

The SCBL sought two expert lawyers’ advice on Claymores. According to their specialist knowledge of the interpretation on the Swiss law, they consider that the possession of Claymore mines, though altered, could be contrary to the Swiss law concerning antipersonnel mines. Therefore the Swiss Campaign will press this matter.

Swiss stocks also include antitank mines, Type 88 (A/T HPD F2 mines) from Thomson Brandt Armament worth US$225 million. They were purchased between 1991 and 1994. All of them are fitted with an anti-handling device type « senseur de mouvement ». (movement sensory device).[14] Some of them (about 100,000 pieces) were assembled in Switzerland by the Firm Tavaro S.A. (Geneva) and fitted with both self-neutralizing and antilift devices.[15]


Given the steady political situation and Swiss neutrality, there is no risk of use of antipersonnel mines in Switzerland. APMs have not been used in the past.

Mine Action

Various programs are being financed by the Swiss government and by private organizations. Funds allocated by the Swiss government from 1993 to 1997 include US$5.5 million for mine-clearance; $11 million for victim assistance; and $400,000 for mine awareness. The recipients have been mostly ICRC and United Nations for programs in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique and Bosnia. The sums allocated in 1998 by the Swiss government are still unknown.

In December 1997 the Swiss government announced in Ottawa the creation of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining. In 1998 the Swiss government launched the Bern Manifesto, a joint project with WHO and UNICEF for victims of violence and war.

From 1993 to 1996 the Swiss authorities, a private donor and the Foundation Pro Victimis–Switzerland financed an individual research project on the manufacturing of various bomb-disposal robots. Funding has ended and the project was suspended.

The foundation Pro Victimis, in Geneva, has financed 6 humanitarian mine clearance programs, between 1991 and 1999, for Cambodia (3), Haut-Karabakh (1) and Abkhazia (2), for a total amount of $1,525,700. It also supported the Geneva Center with a grant of US$800,000 in 1998.

Several NGOs support programs for mine victim assistance. The SCBL does not have concrete data on all such programs but notes that projects in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Cambodia are supported by the Swiss Protestant Mutual Aid, the Swiss Foundation for Landmine Victims Aid, the Swiss Organization for Workers Mutual Aid, the Swiss Afghanistan Friends Organization, Insieme per la Pace, among others.

Founded in 1997, the Swiss Mine Clearance Federation carried out two mine clearance programs in Sarajevo throughout 1998, clearing 67,800 sqm at a of approximately $180,000.

In 1998 the Swiss Red Cross offered mine awareness programs to Bosnian refugees in Switzerland during the war.

At the end of the 1980s, landmine victims from Afghanistan were treated, fit with prosthesis and given rehabilitative training in Swiss University Hospitals. These particular programs have been widened to include all victims, whether due to war, violence or terrorism.


[1]F. Cotti, President of the Swiss Confederation, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[2]“By antipersonnel mines are meant explosive devices placed under, upon, or in proximity to the ground or other surface, and primarily designed or adapted to explode upon the presence or proximity of, or contact with a person, and intended to put out of action, wound or kill one or more persons.” Swiss law, 6 December 1996.

[3]Swiss law, 4 March 1998.

[4]International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Statement to the Closing Plenary of the Oslo Diplomatic Conference on a Treaty to Ban Antipersonnel Landmines, 18 September 1997.

[5]The Swiss Campaign would like to thank the government for its cooperation with information for this report.

[6]Manufacture de munitions de Thoune, Switzerland.

[7]L’Express, 10 May 1995.

[8]Presentation of the device by the company management during a symposium held in Montreux, Switzerland in April 1993.

[9]Information supplied by the Swiss authorities.

[10]Information provided by the Swiss authorities.

[11] Information provided by the Swiss authorities.

[12] Information provided by the Swiss authorities.

[13]Press release, 16 December 1991.

[14]Information given by the Swiss authorities.

[15]Press release.