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17. Conventional arms control in Europe



I. Introduction

II. European arms control

III. NATO membership for the Baltic states and the CFE Treaty

IV. Sub-regional arms control in Europe

V. European CSBMs

VI. Conclusions


Read the full chapter [PDF].


More than two years after its negotiated modernization, the conventional arms control adaptation process in Europe remains hamstrung with limited hope of opening it to other European states. Since the 1999 Agreement on Adaptation of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) was signed, it has been deadlocked by the issue of non-compliance. Progress is blocked by questions related to Russia’s failure to comply with the political commitments it made at the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Istanbul Summit Meeting regarding Georgia and Moldova.


The changes in the international scene, including the rapprochement between Russia and NATO after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA and the forthcoming enlargement of NATO and the European Union in 2004, will affect the evolution of military stability in Europe. Russia no longer actively opposes the admission of the Baltic states to NATO (although it considers it an inadequate response to current challenges and threats), but it clings to the view that they must first become parties to the CFE Treaty. Such signals from Russia have set the stage for a discussion of accession to the arms control regime devoid of the cold-war straitjacket.


Currently, the conventional arms control regime in Europe faces two major interrelated political challenges. The first is the deadlock over the entry into force of the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty. The second challenge is the enlargement of NATO in the vicinity of ‘Russia proper’ by the admission of the Baltic states. Russia continues to be concerned about the military consequences of NATO enlargement. In the run-up to the May 2004 NATO enlargement summit, Russia insists on closing the arms control ‘gap’ emerging on its borders because of the impending NATO membership of the Baltic states, and it is seeking an international-level legal solution to this development.


Significantly, most parties to the CFE Treaty demand Russian compliance not only with the letter of the treaty, but also with the spirit of cooperative security reflected in the commitments made by Russia at the OSCE Istanbul Summit Meeting. However, discussion of possible commitments and constraints to be adopted by the new NATO members has yet to begin.


Security building in Europe is increasingly influenced by the fight against terrorism. In 2002 the OSCE made further efforts to adapt its arms control tools to better deal with this threat by improving the implementation of the politico-military commitments made by its participating states. The OSCE made considerable progress in this area by enhancing the confidence- and security-building measures embodied in the 2000 Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the 1994 Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security.


At the regional level, the security situation in the Balkans has improved and it may soon be possible to hand over responsibility for the implementation of regional arms control and CSBM agreements to regional actors. The first attempt to use CSBMs with regard to naval activities in the Baltic and Black Sea regions was an interesting development in 2002.



Appendix 17A. Landmines and destruction efforts


Full text Appendix 17A [PDF].

The 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine (APM) Convention faces two major challenges. The first relates to mine action cooperation, given that funding levels appear to have stagnated. The second major challenge is bringing many important countries into the convention, including China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the USA. In this respect, the engagement of non-state actors in a ban on APMs is fundamental. Important developments have taken place within the 1981 Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Convention in the past two years, especially the agreement in December 2002 to start negotiations on a new protocol on explosive remnants of war. The APM and CCW landmine processes are generally mutually supportive and have contributed to increased international and bilateral assistance and cooperation in mine action.



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 on European politico-military integration. He is the author of The Adapted CFE Treaty and the Admission of the Baltic States to NATO (SIPRI Policy Paper, 2002) and has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 1992.


Frida Blom (Sweden) is President of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) in Stockholm. She is also a researcher for the Landmine Monitor Reports within the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).