" It must be clear to all of us that in the twenty-first century, many of the challenges we face are global. And from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to the trafficking of small arms, from climate change to the emergence of new, deadly viruses - they have all the potential to threaten not only our stability, but our survival. We need to redouble our efforts to find common ground and purpose again. We need to move towards creating a network of effective mutually reinforcing mechanisms - regional and global - that are flexible and responsive to the reality we live in tDDAy."1
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER ENVISAGED a substantial role for regional organizations in promoting international peace and security, although it was not until the end of the cold war that they assumed a more active role. A Group of Governmental Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General concluded in 1981 that there was a vast and, to a large extent unexplored, potential for progress in disarmament, if the global approach was supplemented with determined and systematic efforts at the level of the different regions.2
The Group of Experts found that progress in regional disarmament, the equitable solution of problems and the just settlement of disputes at the regional level, along with regional confidence-building measures, could create conditions that would promote disarmament and relax tension at the global level.3
Over the years, the United Nations has sought to enhance the role of regional approaches to disarmament and security, including as a complement to global efforts. By adapting regional initiatives to the specific needs of the participating States, it was possible to reach agreement on measures more far-reaching than those that could be adopted at the global level. Concluding its consideration of the question in 1993, the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) adopted guidelines and recommendations for regional approaches to disarmament. The Commission found that regional and global approaches to disarmament and arms limitation complemented each other and should be pursued simultaneously, in order to promote regional and international peace and security.4
The changing political climate of the post-cold war period prompted further analysis of the United Nation's role in advancing regional approaches to disarmament. Given the surge in conflict-related demands on the UN after the end of the cold war and the Security Council's increasing central role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the Organization's wider mission demanded the participation of not only individual States and the United Nations system, but also regional and subregional actors.
Initially, regional proposals sought to limit conventional weapons and armed forces at the end of the Second World War, but by the mid-1950's, the spread of nuclear weapons in Europe had become a predominant concern. Several proposals were made to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) in different parts of the world or to freeze the level of nuclear forces pending actual reductions. Indeed, in the decades that followed, the establishment of such zones in the world assumed particular importance in light of the nuclear threat. The regional approach was first applied to the nuclear field in the late 1950's with the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Antarctica.5
It was subsequently expanded with the creation of NWFZs in other parts of the world, thus promoting nuclear non-proliferation: Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco, 1967); the South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga, 1985); Southeast Asia (Bangkok Treaty, 1995); and Africa (Pelindaba Treaty, 1995). (For the status of these Treaties, see a ppendix I.)
In 1999, the UNDC adopted guidelines and recommendations for the establishment of future nuclear-weapon-free zones, advancing the notion that regional and global approaches to disarmament and arms limitation complemented each other and should be pursued simultaneously.6
The document noted that NWFZs had ceased to be exceptional in the global strategic environment with more than 100 States signatories or parties to such treaties covering more than 50 per cent of the Earth's land mass. It underscored that such zones were an important disarmament tool, which contributed to the primary objective of strengthening regional peace and security and, by extension, international peace and security.
Major regional disarmament arrangements on conventional arms have also been established. They include the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact and the related document on confidence- and security- building measures,7
through which significant reductions in conventional arms and armed forces, as well as confidence-building and confidence- and security-building measures (CBMs/CSBMs) were undertaken. The CFE, including its verification procedures survived the end of the Warsaw Pact in July 1991 and, in 1999, the verification procedures were amended to take account of national forces rather than bloc strength. The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted two instruments: the 1997 Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials;8
and the 1999 Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions.9
Several CBMs have been undertaken in Asia through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF),10
and through bilateral and multilateral agreements. In June 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)11
was established to promote mutual confidence and trust and consolidate multilateral cooperation in the maintenance and strengthening of peace, security and stability in the region.
The growing number of conflicts in Africa in the 1990's prompted the United Nations and several regional and subregional organizations to focus their attention on resolving them and preventing future ones. Efforts intensified to curb proliferation of conventional arms, especially the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW). Under the umbrella of regional and subregional organizations, important initiatives were undertaken in many regions of the world.12
Indeed, increased global concern over the proliferation of and illicit trade in SALW and its devastating consequences led in 2001 to the convening of the UN Conference on the issue.13
This chapter deals with issues concerning developments in specific regions related to NWFZs, confidence-building, and conventional disarmament.
See Press Release SG/SM/8665 of 11 April 2003.
See Study on All Aspects of Regional Disarmament
(United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.81.IX.2.)
A/48/42, annex II, "Guidelines and recommendations for regional approaches to disarmament within the context of global security". See also A/54/42, annex I, "Establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned".
For details, see A/57/346, 26 August 2002, Report of the Secretary on the Question of Antarctica.
Report of the Disarmament Commission, 1999 (A/54/42).
For the texts of the CFE Treaty and Vienna Documents on CSBMs, which were updated at the Istanbul Summit meeting in 1999, see documents CFE.DOC/2/99/ and FSC.DOC/1/99.
A/53/78, annex. The text is reproduced in The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
, volume 22:1997, appendix III, (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.98.IX.1).
AG/RES.1607 (XXXIX-0/99). The text is reproduced in The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
, volume 24:1999, appendix II, (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.00.IX.1).
Non-mandatory CBMs discussed and implemented within the ARF include: exchange of information on observation and prior notification of military exercises, exchange of visits to military establishments and naval vessels, holding seminars and workshops with defence and military officials, visits to defence facilities and dialogue on defence policy and conversion.
Member States of the SCO are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
See The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
, volume 27:2002, chapter III, (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.03.IX.1).
See The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
, volume 26:2001, chapter III, (United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.02.IX.1).