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20 Global Governance 203 (2014)
A Banner Year for Conventional Arms Control - the Arms Trade Treaty and the Small Arms Challenge

handle is hein.journals/glogo20 and id is 215 raw text is: Global Governance 20 (2014), 203-212

A Banner Year for Conventional
Arms Control? The Arms Trade Treaty
and the Small Arms Challenge
Paul Meyer
of the global efforts to control weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since
the advent of the atomic era, the focus of arms control and disarmament
activity has been overwhelmingly on nuclear weapons and their lesser, if still
ugly, stepsisters of biological and chemical weapons. The initial multilateral
arms control agreements concerned themselves with limits on the testing of
nuclear weapons and, shortly thereafter, with their nonproliferation (e.g., the
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968). Bilateral US-Soviet/Russian arms
control arrangements also predominantly dealt with the reduction of strate-
gic nuclear forces and restraints on deployments of defenses against (nuclear-
tipped) ballistic missiles. Efforts to reduce major conventional weapon
systems were also taken up in the 1980s in the context of negotiations
between the opposing alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, eventually
culminating in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) of
1989. This treaty provided for a massive reduction in the conventional forces
that had confronted each other for years in Central Europe and established a
new, far more stable security order on the continent. Even the CFE Treaty,
however, tended to be overshadowed by other major disarmament agreements
concluded in those heady post-Cold War days: the Intermediate Nuclear
Forces Treaty (1987), Chemical Weapons Convention (1993), Comprehen-
sive (Nuclear) Test Ban Treaty (1996), and various US-Russian bilateral
strategic nuclear arms accords of the 1990s and early 2000s (e.g., the Strate-
gic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty).
From one perspective, the focus on WMD and nuclear weapons in par-
ticular is understandable. These after all are weapons that have a capacity for
apocalyptic destruction. However, given the prevailing taboo on WMD use
(not since 1945 for nuclear weapons, and only a handful of incidents involv-
ing chemical weapons), the impact on humans is more a grave potential than
a painful reality. Conventional arms, including by this term not only the
major weapon systems such as tanks, artillery, and armored combat vehicles


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