According to the latest worldwide Small Arms Survey, Switzerland ranks sixth among exporting countries, following the US, Germany, Austria, Italy and Brazil. The annual survey by Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Studies said Swiss exports amounted to USD 191 million (CHF 172 million) compared to the US lead of USD 917 million.
Survey authors said that the small arms trade has increased significantly over the last decade, from USD 2.3 billion in 2001 to USD 4.5 billion in 2011. It noted that some of these weapons have ended up in conflict zones and that Switzerland shared a responsibility in at least three cases. Swiss howitzers shipped to the United Arab Emirates were discovered in Morocco in 2004. Swiss ammunition found its way from Qatar to Libya in 2011 and hand grenades exported to the United Arab Emirates in 2003 ended up in Syria after transiting Jordan. The survey nevertheless praised Switzerland for its high level of transparency compared to other countries.
The survey authors noted that while many countries, including Switzerland, have so-called “non-forwarding” clauses to guard against small arms being deviated to third countries, “the best prevention is to deny an export licence to countries that may transfer weapons further on.” They also recommended that mechanisms such as buy-back schemes for guns, strengthening export controls, codes of conduct and ammunition marking must be assessed continually so that best practices can be passed on from region to region.