Regional disarmament

"TDDAy, the United Nations is cooperating with regional organizations in stabilization processes in many countries around the world. While our cooperation is being enhanced, we have to consider more thoroughly the comparative strengths of different organizations, be they global, regional or subregional, and move towards the creation of strategic partnerships that meet tDDAy's and tomorrow's challenges."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. In 1981, a Group of Governmental Experts appointed by the Secretary-General concluded 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 UN Disarmament Commission (the Commission) 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 Nations role in advancing regional approaches to disarmament. Given the surge in conflict-related demands on the Organization after the end of the cold war and the increasing central role for the Security Council in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the Organization's wider mission demanded the participation not only of individual States and the United Nations system, but also of 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-1950s, 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 continent 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 1950s with the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Antarctica.5 It was subsequently expanded with the creation of NWFZs in populated parts of the world, thus promoting nuclear non-proliferation - Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco, 1967); the South Pacific (Treaty of Raratonga, 1985); Southeast Asia (Bangkok Treaty, 1995); and Africa (Pelindaba Treaty, 1995). (For the status of these Treaties, see Appendix I).
In 1999, the Disarmament Commission 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 (NAT)) 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 1990s prompted the United Nations and 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 to the convening of the United Nations Conference on the issue in 2001.13
This chapter deals with issues concerning developments in specific regions related to NWFZs, confidence-building, and conventional disarmament.

1Statement at Security Council meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in the processes of stabilization on , 20 July 2004. At
2See: Study on All Aspects of Regional Disarmament (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.81.IX.2.)
4Disarmament Commission "Guidelines and recommendations for regional approaches to disarmament within the context of global security (A/48/42), Annex II. See also "Establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned" (A/54/42), Annex I.
5See the most recent report of the Secretary-General on Antarctica (A/57/346), available from
6Report of the Disarmament Commission (A/54/42).
7 For the texts of the CFE Treaty and Vienna Documents on CSBMs, which were updated at the Istanbul Summit in 1999, see documents CFE.DOCUMENT/2/99/ and FSC.DOCUMENT/1/99.
8 A/53/78, Annex. The text is reproduced in The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 22, 1997, Appendix III. (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.98.IX.1).
9AG/RES.1607 (XXXIX-0/99). For text, see The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 24, 1999, Appendix II (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.00.IX.1). Also available from http://www.oas/legal/intro.htm (Treaties and Agreements).
10Non-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.
11 Member States of SCO are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
12See The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 27, 2002 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.02.IX.1), chapter III.
13See The Yearbook, vol. 26, 2001 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.01.IX.1).