2-3/2008 Content

83 (2008) 2-3: Arms Control in the 21st Century

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Una Becker / Harald Müller / Elvira Rosert


The Quest for International Nuclear Order
William Walker

After the early attempt to eliminate nuclear weapons had failed, an international order had to be constructed that, by institutionalising restraint among states with diverse power resources, would ensure survival and generate stability within the anarchic international system. This article explores the nature of this order, and considers why it fell into disarray after developing strongly in the early post-Cold War period. The opportunity to achieve a more profound limitation of nuclear arms was missed. Although complete nuclear disarmament remains the primary goal in face of mounting dangers, chances of achievement are being diminished by international tensions, power transitions, and intrinsic difficulties of implementation.

The Regimes to Control Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons
Una Becker / Harald Müller / Tabea Seidler-Diekmann

The regimes to control weapons of mass destruction fulfil important security functions and contribute to preventing terrorism using these weapons. An analysis based on regime theory reveals stabilising and destabilising tendencies as well as conflicts along a north-south divide. In the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the discrimination between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states, combined with the insufficient implementation of the disarmament obligation, has a destabilising effect. The biological weapons regime shows a new dynamic regarding biosecurity, but also continuing conflicts over technological exchange and verification. Although the chemical weapons regime appears to be the most stable, urgent action is needed to mitigate and prevent conflicts in the areas of, for example, verification and disarmament. In order for the regimes to effectively fulfil their tasks, structural deficits need to be redressed, and the disarmament, nonproliferation as well as cooperation obligations all need to be implemented fully and in a balanced way.

Bridging the Gaps: Achieving the Potential of the Nonproliferation Treaties to Combat Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Terrorism
Jonathan B. Tucker

The claim that multilateral non-proliferation treaties are of little value in the fight against nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism does not hold up under scrutiny. These instruments strengthen the international norm against the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), require member states to adopt implementing legislation making the treaty prohibitions binding on their citizens at home and abroad, and provide an institutional framework for international consultation and cooperation. Nevertheless, national implementation of the non-proliferation treaties must be improved if they are to achieve their potential as a tool for combating WMD terrorism.

Preventive Arms Control
Jürgen Altmann

For many decades, technological innovation has been a centerpiece of the preparations for war. Often new weapons have made the military situation between potential opponents more instable. Preventive arms control aims at containing these and other negative consequences in advance. It remains relevant after the Cold War and would also limit terrorist access to new technologies and systems. By means of a criteria set one can assess new technologies. If preventive limitations appear necessary, advantages and disadvantages of various options have to be weighed and verification methods have to be devised. Urgent challenges are posed by the accelerating technological advance inter alia in biotechnology, nanotechnology and robotics.


Is the Weaponization of Space Unavoidable? Opportunities and Prospects
for Arms Control in Outer Space 
Götz Neuneck

Outer Space is increasingly being used by leading states for various civilian and commercial purposes, but also for military means. As a result of the Cold War, the USA and Russia have refrained from deploying operational weapons in space due to the provocative and expensive nature of space-based weapons (SW). Already, the United States is focusing its research effort on achieving possible means of controlling the earth’s orbit and outer space. Russia and China could very easily develop “asymmetrical means” to counter US dominance in space. This article examines the international debate around this set of problems as well as the political and technical consequences of a possible weaponization of space. The goal should be the establishment of an arms control regime centered upon a binding and verifiable ban on all kinds of space weapons. Viable steps towards this could include confidence-building measures as well as institutional and technical steps. The EU should become the vanguard of arms control in space.

The Future of Regional Arms Control
Oliver Meier

Against the background of the current crisis in multilateral arms control, regional confidence-building and disarmament approaches are receiving increased attention. Regional arms control’s core functions are the establishment of a military balance and the improvement of military transparency between conflict parties. Regional arms control regimes can also contribute to post-conflict settlements and aim to involve external powers. Regional arms control can strengthen multilateral agreements by bringing problem states closer to global norms and improving the national implementation of multilateral agreements. While the focus in Europe is on consolidating regional arms control agreements, conflict parties in the Middle East and South Asia have yet to establish the preconditions for progress in arms control. In the future, regional arms control is likely to contribute to the solution of regional conflicts and in strengthening global arms control norms.

Humanitarian Arms Control in the 21st Century
Simone Wisotzki

Over the last decade, three new regimes were set up in the realm of humanitarian arms control. It is characteristic for these new forms of arms control and disarmament that the treaties were deliberately negotiated outside existing institutions such as the United Nations: this was the case for the anti-personnel mines convention as well as for the recent cluster munitions convention. Moreover, humanitarian arms control, in particular the Programme of Action on the Illicit Traffi cking of Small Arms, also aims at reforming the security sector. At the same time, the new regimes are confronted with the challenges of the 21st century: Fragile statehood, the privatisation of security, resource wars, organised crime, terrorism as well as poverty and economic underdevelopment all place constraints on their implementation.


Kenya: Crisis, mediation and the prospects of the „Grand Coalition“
Axel Harneit-Sievers

After the change of government in 2002, many observers saw Kenya as an exemplary case of successful democratic transition in Africa. The unexpected explosion of violence after the presidential and parliamentary elections of December 27, 2007, has questioned this image. It has made obvious the country’s serious social and political problems. This essay analyzes the electoral process and the escalation of violence in January 2008 which brought Kenya to the brink of civil war. The violence did not only result from protests against the widely-alleged rigging of the presidential vote, but also from a far-reaching ethno-political polarization. The successful conflict mediation by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan operated under intense international pressure. The perspectives of the “Grand Coalition”, formed in spring 2008, can be assessed with careful optimism.