Confidence-building measures (CBMs) are planned procedures to prevent hostilities, to avert escalation, to reduce military tension, and to build mutual trust between countries. They have been applied since the dawn of civilization, on all continents.
At present, too few military CBMs are in place. Many regions lack even the most basic military CBMs.
Each country is in a unique strategic environment. Military CBMs can be tailored to the security needs of any country or region.
Transparency in armaments
Confidence and trust grow when States are open about their military capacities and plans. That is why governments can report every year their national military spending to the UN, as well as their recent weapons transfers. Regions wishing to develop military CBMs may build upon existing United Nations tools: the UN Report on Military Expenditures or the UN Register of Conventional Arms. They could conduct regular bilateral or regional discussions on information provided to these global instruments and on the strategic considerations underpinning the policy decisions reported therein.
Other military CBMs
Many more military CBMs are possible: from advance notification of exercises and opening up courses in military academies, to establishing demilitarized zones and joint peacekeeping battalions.
The United Nations can assist
The key to effective CBMs is the quality of the procedures underpinning them. The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs stands ready to assist governments and regional organizations in developing bilateral or regional military CBMs tailored to the situation.
Information on CBMs in the field of conventional arms
CBMs in the regional and subregional context
CBMs in outer space
Regional CBMs in Central Africa