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Part II Practice—Scholarly and Practitioner Accounts of UN Treaty-Making, A International Peace and Security, Ch.7A United Nations Weapons Control Treaties

Barry Kellman

From: The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties

Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, Santiago Villalpando

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 December 2023

Armed conflict — Weapons control

Weapons control was born of necessity to reduce the existential threats of weapons technologies following the last century’s world wars. In a dangerous and anarchic world, security can be enhanced by substituting multilateral agreements for unconstrained procurement, deployment, and transfer of weapons. This chapter focuses on four aspects of weapons control treaties: (1) nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, (2) eradication of chemical and biological weapons, (3) prohibition of unique inhumane weapons, and (4) restriction of the trade in conventional weapons. Cumulatively, these treaties serve to lower the risk of war, reduce war’s devastation should it begin, and curtail the enormous financial drain of procuring and stockpiling weapons. Methodologies have developed with established institutions and stipulated procedures that influence virtually every state’s military choices, significantly enhancing global security. These treaties have enabled humanity to stanch the inherent tendency of employing advancing technologies to make and use more powerful weapons. By significantly contributing to capping centuries of accelerating violence and by restraining how escalating fears of an adversary’s weapons can accelerate political friction into armed conflict, these treaties have contributed to building a more secure world order, thereby enabling diplomacy and other processes to help address more deep-rooted social conditions. It is perhaps the greatest achievement of these treaties to have fostered trust among the vast majority of states and their populations with regard to lethal weapons, enabling maturation of innumerable initiatives for promoting peace.

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