Featured affiliate: Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee (“Group for a Switzerland without an Army”)

GSOA activists hold a banner against weapons exports

The “Group for a Switzerland without an Army” (GSoA, Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee) is one of the main Swiss pacifist groups. Not only for its number of members – around 25,000 – but also because of the successes the organization has acheived: in 1989 the Swiss Armed Forces were surprised when a popular initiative launched by GSoA resulted in more than 35% of the population wanting to abolish the army. The shock following this lack of support for the military has not yet been overcome.

Another important milestone in the history of GSoA was the introduction of an alternative civil service for conscripts unwilling to complete their obligatory service in the armed forces. The refusal to buy new fighter jets in 2014, another popular consultation forced by GSoA. This refusal was another shock for the parliament.

Although the roots of GSoA lie in the political resistance against the obligation of military service and the army itself, the organization covers a brought spectrum of security-political subjects, such as the Swiss arms exports or foreign deployments of the army. Recently, the investments of pension funds and the national bank in the worldwide arms industry has been a major dossier. The Swiss National Bank holds stocks in arms producing companies such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin and is unwilling to let go of them in order “to keep investments as broad as possible”. The same goes for the investments of private banks or pension and benefit institutions. Unwilling to accept that the production of conventional and internationally banned weapons is financed by Swiss money, GSoA collected 100,000 signatures to give the population the chance to express their disapproval. Although the date of the consultation is not set yet, the initiative already shows its first accomplishments: several cantonal pension funds have decided to quit investing in weapon production.

The next project is already awaiting in the wings: The Swiss Federal Council decided to slacken the regulation of arms exports and is willing to allow the Swiss arms industry to sell their products to countries involved in civil wars. To distance Switzerland so gravely from its humanitarian tradition is unacceptable to us – once again we call on the people to take action, and we are ready to launch our next initiative.

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