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11. Conventional arms control


I. Introduction

II. European arms control

III. Building military security cooperation in the OSCE area

IV. Control of inhumane weapons

V. Conclusions

Table 11.1. Aggregate treaty-limited equipment holdings of the states parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe, as of 1 January 2010


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The prospects for advances in European arms control appeared better in 2009 than in preceding years, even though the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) regime has remained in limbo since December 2007, when Russia unilaterally suspended its participation. As part of the Corfu process, a wide-ranging dialogue on European security, the significance of arms control for European security was reacknowledged by all Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) participating states. At the 2009 Athens OSCE Ministerial Council these states reaffirmed the desire to overcome the long-standing deadlock in the main regimes—the CFE Treaty and the Vienna Document on confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). In relation to broader security, Russia insists on convening a Euro-Atlantic summit with the aim of crowning it with a European security treaty. The Western states demonstrated caution and restraint, making their consent contingent on the adequacy of the substance and scope of an eventual agreement.


The United States has embarked on a thorough review of the US arms control agenda, and in February 2010 a Special Envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was appointed to start consultations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European partners and Russia on the future of the CFE regime.


Further steps were taken to make the Western Balkans subregional arms control framework more self-reliant. European security-related measures that are associated with arms control aim to respond to traditional as well as new threats and to risks and challenges. However, progress as regards the Vienna Document CSBMs remains at a standstill. The OSCE participants strive to counter cross-dimensional threats that are increasingly of a local and subregional nature. With the decreased norm-setting activity, the practical assistance given to the Euro-Atlantic states through the implementation of select projects remains a chief activity in the improvement of security and stability in the OSCE region.


Efforts to control ‘inhumane weapons’ continued in 2009, although with less dynamism than that demonstrated in 2008 by the ‘Oslo process’ on cluster munitions. The grass-roots ‘processes’ and conventions as well as the traditional intergovernmental treaties and protocols compete, yet continue to have a mutually reinforcing moral impact as they strive to address the problems of human suffering and the betterment of living conditions in conflict-ridden areas and throughout the world.



Dr Zdzislaw Lachowski (Poland) is a Senior Fellow with the SIPRI Euro-Atlantic Security Programme.