The independent resource on global security

13. Conventional arms control



I. Introduction

II. European arms control

III. European CSBMs

IV. Non-European CSBM arrangements

V. Landmines and certain conventional weapons

VI. Conclusions

Table 13.1. CFE and CFE-1A ceilings and holdings in the ATTU zone, as of 1 January 2002 [PDF]


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In 2001 there were a number of positive changes in the multilateral and regional conventional arms control regimes. The general trend was a focus by the international community on regional and domestic sources of conflict and relevant arms control measures, particularly those of an operational character. In Europe the focus was on the implementation of agreed measures and the search for new approaches to the politico–military dialogue.


The 1999 Agreement on Adaptation of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe is being implemented, but Russia’s non-compliance has hindered its entry into force. The second review conference was held in 2001. Russia has made insufficient progress towards complying with its obligations with regard to agreed flank levels, but it has met its commitments regarding troop withdrawals from Moldova. In Georgia the future of one Russian military base and the continued presence of Russian forces remain to be resolved. The Balkan arms control regimes worked well, and the agreement on regional stabilization ‘in and around Yugoslavia’ was successfully concluded. Regional and bilateral confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) continued to work smoothly, and new bilateral CSBMs were introduced in Europe. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) military doctrine seminar evaluated new threats and challenges and identified possible additional directions for the work of the OSCE. After years of deadlock, the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on 1 January 2002, after Russia and Belarus ratified it in 2001.


There are 4 characteristic features of the process of controlling weapons and consolidating military security in Europe today. First, the ‘hard’ (structural) steps of regulating armaments are being replaced by ‘soft’ (operational) arrangements, such as CSBMs, risk reduction, transparency and other cooperative mechanisms. Second, the new measures are increasingly becoming region-oriented—moving from the pan-European to the regional, subregional, bilateral and even domestic level. Third, there is debate as to whether CSBMs are applicable in times of crisis or conflict. There is no consensus on this issue, and while one view is that new arrangements, mechanisms and institutions are needed, others believe that the necessary instruments exist but that the political will is lacking. Fourth, the autonomous role of CSBMs in regulating relations between states is increasingly constrained by their inclusion in synergistic packages of military and non-military measures for crisis management, conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation (e.g., the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe) or in counter-terrorism schemes. Soft measures may be effective in resolving security problems in volatile regions and combating terrorism in Europe. Although the European model of conventional arms control measures is seen as a positive example, conventional arms control remains a low security priority elsewhere in the world.


The number of parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (APM Convention) continued to increase. The regulation of excessively injurious conventional weapons or those that have an indiscriminate effect has gained prominence as concern has grown in the international community about the suffering of civilians and combatants. The 2001 Second Review Conference of the Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Convention extended the application of the convention to domestic armed conflicts and expressed support for additional work on other issues of humanitarian concern.



Dr Zdzislaw Lachowski (Poland) is Leader of the SIPRI Project on Conventional Arms Control. He formerly worked at the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw. He has published extensively on the problems of European military security and arms control as well as issues concerning European political integration. He is the author of chapters in the SIPRI volume A Future Arms Control Agenda: Proceedings of Nobel Symposium 118, 1999 (2001) and in Between the Balance of Forces and Cooperative Security in Europe: Adapting the CFE Regime to the New Security Environment (1999, in Polish) and has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 1992.