Switzerland: Ratification of Biological Weapons Convention

Action type
Government of the United States of America
04 May 1976

“On ratification of the aforesaid Convention, the last two declarations will be repeated as formal reservations.

“The Ambassador of Switzerland avails himself of this occasion to renew to His Excellency the Secretary of State the assurances of his high consideration.”

 The Swiss ratification contains the following declarations, which, in translation, read as follows:

 “1.  Owing to the fact that the Convention also applies to weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such biological agents or toxins, the delimitation of its scope of application can cause difficulties since there are scarcely any weapons, equipment, or means of delivery peculiar to such use; therefore, Switzerland reserves the right to decide for itself what auxiliary means fall within that definition.

“2.  By reason of the obligations resulting from its status as a perpetually neutral State, Switzerland is bound to make the general reservation that its collaboration within the framework of this Convention cannot go beyond the terms prescribed by that status.  This reservation refers especially to Article VII of the Convention as well as to any similar clause that could replace or supplement that provision of the Convention (or any other arrangement).”

 The views of the Government of the United States of America with regard to Reservation No. 1 quoted above, are contained in the Secretary of State’s note to the Ambassador of Switzerland dated August 18, 1976, the text of which reads as follows:

 “The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of Switzerland and has the honor to refer to the deposit on May 4, 1976, of the instrument of ratification by the Government of Switzerland of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, which was done at Washington, London and Moscow on April 10, 1972.  It is noted that the instrument of ratification contains the following reservations:

1.  Du fait que la Convention s’applique aussi aux armes, à l’équipement ou aux vecteurs destinés à l’emploi des agents biologiques ou des toxines, la délimitation de son champ d’application peut donner lieu à des difficultés, vu qu’il n’y a guère d’armes, d’équipement ou de vecteurs typiques à cet emploi.  La Suisse se réserve dès lors de décider elle-même quels moyens auxiliaires tombent sous cette définition;

2.  En raison des obligations résultant de son statut d’Etat perpétuellement neutre, la Suisse est tenue de faire la réserve de portée générale que sa collaboration dans le cadre de cette Convention ne peut aller au-delà de ce que ce statut lui impose.  Cette réserve vise spécialement l’article VII de la Convention ainsi que toute clause analogue qui pourrait remplacer ou compléter cette disposition dans la Convention (ou dans un autre arrangement).

“As is stated in the first Swiss reservation, the Convention prohibits the development, production, or stockpiling of weapons, equipment, or means of delivery designed to use the prohibited agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.  In the view of the United States Government, this prohibition would apply only to (a) weapons, equipment and means of delivery the design of which indicated that they could have no other use than that specified, and (b) weapons, equipment and means of delivery the design of which indicated that they were specifically intended to be capable of the use specified.  The Government of the United States shares the view of the Government of Switzerland that there are few weapons, equipment, or means of delivery peculiar to the uses referred to.  It does not, however, believe that it would be appropriate, on this ground alone, for States to reserve unilaterally the right to decide which weapons, equipment or means of delivery fell within that definition.  Therefore, while acknowledging the entry into force of the Convention between itself and the Government of Switzerland, the United States Government enters its objection to this reservation.

“As provided by Article XIV, paragraph 5, the Government of the United States is informing the States signatory and acceding to the Convention at Washington of the deposit of the ratification by Switzerland and the accompanying reservations.

“In the performance of the depositary duties of the Government of the United States under the Convention, similar circulation is being given to the present note.”

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