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17. Conventional arms control



I. Introduction

II. European arms control

III. Arms control and confidence building in the Balkans

IV. Building confidence and stability in Europe

V. The Treaty on Open Skies

VI. Building confidence and security in the western hemisphere

VII. Explosive remnants of war

VIII. Conclusions


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More than four years after the 1999 Agreement on Adaptation of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) was signed, the conventional arms control process in Europe remains deadlocked. The main sticking point continues to be Russia’s non-compliance with the commitments it made at the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Istanbul Summit, particularly those regarding the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Georgia and Moldova. The second wave of NATO enlargement caused Russia to intensify its diplomatic and political rhetoric in 2003 and early 2004, alleging that enlargement would deal a ‘fatal blow’ to the European conventional arms control regime. The resulting confrontation has made both NATO and Russia aware of the need to find a means to deal with the problem.


In 2003 the OSCE participating states remained focused on improving certain norm- and standard-setting measures (NSSMs) and developing new ones in order to better respond to the various threats and challenges facing Europe and its perimeter.


In 2003 a Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) was published to assist participating states in implementing the 2000 OSCE SALW Document. A great deal of work was also done to promote the 1994 Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security (COC) in the states of Central Asia and the Caucasus and in other former Soviet states. The OSCE’s efforts to combat terrorism led the participating states to propose new arms control-related initiatives. Most significantly, at the OSCE Maastricht Ministerial Council, the OSCE Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition was adopted, setting out a process whereby requesting states would receive assistance with the destruction of their surplus ammunition.


The Treaty on Open Skies had a smooth second year of implementation. Three states ratified the treaty in 2003, and several others are in the process of doing so.


In the Balkans, regional arms control continues to work well, evidently unaffected by political, economic and other factors in the region.


Although the European conventional arms control regime is by far the most advanced of its type in the world, significant progress is being made in other regions. Within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS), headway was made in 2003 in elaborating the confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) process in the western hemisphere. A Meeting of Experts on CSBMs took place in Miami, Florida, which built on earlier meetings organized during the 1990s. Recommendations were made on voluntary CSBMs dealing with both traditional and new security threats.


At the November Meeting of States Parties to the 1981 Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW Convention), Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) was adopted. Among other things, the protocol commits signatories to clear or assist in the clearance of ERW following armed conflicts. The protocol was opened for signature and ratification. The attention given to restricting the use of anti-vehicle mines demonstrates the willingness of states to mitigate the consequences of the use of weapons that predominantly affect civilians.



Dr Zdzislaw Lachowski (Poland) is Leader of the SIPRI European Security and Arms Control Project. 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 No. 1 (Dec. 2002) and a contributor to Armament and Disarmament in the Caucasus and Central Asia, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 3 (July 2003). He is the co-editor of International Security in a Time of Change: Threats—Concepts—Institutions (in Polish, Warsaw, 2003) and has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 1992.


Martin Sjögren (Sweden) has been a Research Assistant on the SIPRI European Security and Arms Control Project since 2003. Before joining SIPRI, he was involved in various projects for Save the Children Sweden. He contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook in 2003.