Swiss bankers must divest from nuclear weapons

May 29, 2013

Investing in the production of nuclear weapons is now illegal in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council recently responded to an interpellation submitted by Evi Alleman of the Swiss Social Democratic Party who, referring to ICAN’s report Don’t Bank on the Bomb, demanded clarifications on whether investing in nuclear weapons is illegal according to Swiss law.

The interpretation of the law provided by the Swiss Federal Council was unambiguous in declaring that the financing of nuclear weapon producers is prohibited by the Swiss Federal Act on War Material, enacted in February 2013. Among the weapons prohibited by the Act, which also covers chemical and biological weapons, cluster bombs and landmines, only nuclear weapons are not explicitly outlawed by international law. By prohibiting any investment in the production of nuclear weapons, Switzerland contributes to making these weapons illegitimate – a decision consistent with the country’s engagement to achieve a universal ban.

The Swiss initiative is not alone. In 2005, the Norwegian Pension Fund divested from companies producing nuclear weapons and the Irish parliament is currently revising a bill that would achieve the same results.

“By continuing to providing money to nuclear weapons companies, banks and other financial institutions are currently facilitating the existence and even modernization of nuclear arsenals, thereby heightening the risk that these weapons will one day be used again,” says Beatrice Fihn, member of ICAN’s International Steering Group, “Divestment can help put an end to nuclear weapons and build momentum towards negotiations of a ban treaty.”

These initiatives are critical to delegitimizing these weapons. Investment in nuclear weapons must be considered a liability, not an economic opportunity.

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