Disarmament

Disarmament

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Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

, such as nuclear arms
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

. General and Complete Disarmament refers to the removal of all weaponry, including conventional arms.

Definitions of disarmament


Disarmament can be contrasted with arms control
Arms control
Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

, which essentially refers to the act of limiting arms rather than eliminating them. A distinction can also be made between disarmament as a process (the process of eliminating weapons), and disarmament as an end state (the absence of weapons). Disarmament has also come to be associated with two things:
  • Nuclear disarmament
    Nuclear disarmament
    Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated....

    , referring to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
  • Unilateral disarmament
    Unilateral disarmament
    Unilateral disarmament is a policy option, to renounce weapons without seeking equivalent concessions from one's actual or potential rivals. It was most commonly used in the twentieth century in the context of unilateral nuclear disarmament, a recurrent objective of peace movements in countries...

    , the elimination of weapons outside of the framework of an international agreement, i.e., they are not bound by a treaty such as START.


Philosophically, disarmament may be viewed as a form of demilitarization; part of an economic, political, technical, and military process to reduce and eliminate weapons systems. Thus, disarmament may be part of a set of other strategies, like economic conversion
Economic conversion
Economic conversion, defence conversion, or arms conversion, is a technical, economic and political process for moving from military to civilian markets. Economic conversion takes place on several levels and can be applied to different organizations...

, which aim to reduce the power of war making institutions and associated constituencies.

History



An example on the feasibility of the elimination of weapons is the policy of gradual reduction of guns
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 in Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

. In two centuries, Japan passed from being the country with more guns per capita to producing (or importing) none.

In the early 1930s, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 sent this message to the World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

: "If all nations will agree wholly to eliminate from possession and use the weapons which make possible a successful attack, defences automatically will become impregnable and the frontiers and independence of every nation will become secure."

In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 gave a speech before the UN General Assembly where he announced the US "intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race - to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved." He went on to call for a global general and complete disarmament, offering a rough outline for how this could be accomplished:
The program to be presented to this assembly - for general and complete disarmament under effective international control - moves to bridge the gap between those who insist on a gradual approach and those who talk only of the final and total achievement. It would create machinery to keep the peace as it destroys the machinery of war. It would proceed through balanced and safeguarded stages designed to give no state a military advantage over another. It would place the final responsibility for verification and control where it belongs, not with the big powers alone, not with one's adversary or one's self, but in an international organization within the framework of the United Nations. It would assure that indispensable condition of disarmament - true inspection - and apply it in stages proportionate to the stage of disarmament. It would cover delivery systems as well as weapons. It would ultimately halt their production as well as their testing, their transfer as well as their possession. It would achieve under the eyes of an international disarmament organization, a steady reduction in force, both nuclear and conventional, until it has abolished all armies and all weapons except those needed for internal order and a new United Nations Peace Force. And it starts that process now, today, even as the talks begin. In short, general and complete disarmament must no longer be a slogan, used to resist the first steps. It is no longer to be a goal without means of achieving it, without means of verifying its progress, without means of keeping the peace. It is now a realistic plan, and a test - a test of those only willing to talk and a test of those willing to act.

Disarmament conferences and treaties

  • 1899: Hague Conferences
  • 1932-34: World Disarmament Conference
    World Disarmament Conference
    The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

  • 1960: Ten Nation Disarmament Committee
  • 1962-1968: Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee
  • 1969-1978: Conference of the Committee on Disarmament
    Conference of the Committee on Disarmament
    The Conference of the Committee on Disarmament was a United Nations disarmament committee authorized by a General Assembly resolution. It began work in 1969 as the successor to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament.-History:...

  • 1979–present: Conference on Disarmament
    Conference on Disarmament
    Conference on Disarmament is a forum established by the international community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements...

     (CD)


Naval
  • 1908–1909: London Naval Conference
    London Naval Conference
    There were three major international naval conferences in London, the first in 1908-09, the second in 1930 and the third in 1935. The latter two, together with the Washington Naval Conference in 1921-22 and the Geneva Conferences , resulted in agreements between the major powers on navy vessel...

  • 1921–1922: Washington Naval Conference
    Washington Naval Conference
    The Washington Naval Conference also called the Washington Arms Conference, was a military conference called by President Warren G. Harding and held in Washington from 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922. Conducted outside the auspices of the League of Nations, it was attended by nine nations...

  • 1927: Geneva Naval Conference
    Geneva Naval Conference
    The Geneva Naval Conference was a conference held to discuss naval arms limitation, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1927. This is a separate conference from the later general disarmament conference, the Geneva Conference ....

  • 1930: London Naval Conference
    London Naval Conference
    There were three major international naval conferences in London, the first in 1908-09, the second in 1930 and the third in 1935. The latter two, together with the Washington Naval Conference in 1921-22 and the Geneva Conferences , resulted in agreements between the major powers on navy vessel...

     leading to the London Naval Treaty
    London Naval Treaty
    The London Naval Treaty was an agreement between the United Kingdom, the Empire of Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on April 22, 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding. Ratifications were exchanged in London on October 27, 1930, and the treaty went...

  • 1935: London Naval Conference
    London Naval Conference
    There were three major international naval conferences in London, the first in 1908-09, the second in 1930 and the third in 1935. The latter two, together with the Washington Naval Conference in 1921-22 and the Geneva Conferences , resulted in agreements between the major powers on navy vessel...

     leading to the Second London Naval Treaty
    Second London Naval Treaty
    The Second London Naval Disarmament Conference opened in London, the United Kingdom, on 9 December 1935. It resulted in the Second London Naval Treaty which was signed on 25 March 1936.- Description :...


Nuclear disarmament



Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated.

Proponents of nuclear disarmament say that it would lessen the probability of nuclear war
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

 occurring, especially accidentally. Critics of nuclear disarmament say that it would undermine deterrence
Deterrence theory
Deterrence theory gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, and features prominently in current United States foreign policy regarding the development of nuclear technology in North Korea and Iran. Deterrence theory however was...

.

Major nuclear disarmament groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

, Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 63 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation...

. There have been many large anti-nuclear demonstrations
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

 and protest
Protest
A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

s. On June 12, 1982, one million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

 against nuclear weapons and for an end to the cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 arms race
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

. It was the largest anti-nuclear protest
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

 and the largest political demonstration in American history.

Disarmament barriers



The political and economic barriers to disarmament are considerable, mostly based on the concentrated power of those supporting militaristic
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

 approaches to foreign policy. One key barrier is ideological. Many foundations and universities have failed to support research in disarmament, instead favoring more ad hoc and limited approaches like arms control, conflict resolution
Conflict resolution
Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of some social conflict. Often, committed group members attempt to resolve group conflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies to the rest...

, and limits on weapons systems in specific countries. Part of this may be pragmatism, but often it is the result of a limited understanding of the history of disarmament (see References below). Attempts to restrict nuclear proliferation are of course a necessity. Bolstering these efforts would be assisted by checking the link between military intervention and nuclear proliferation. Many countries fearful of being invaded, particularly by the U.S., have tried to secure or develop nuclear weapons. As a result, policies to limit military interventions may be part of a larger demilitarization program.

Misconceptions about disarmament


In his definition of "disarmament", David Carlton writes in the Oxford University Press Political dictionary, "But confidence in such measures of arms control, especially when unaccompanied by extensive means of verification, has not been strengthened by the revelation that the Soviet Union in its last years successfully concealed
Soviet program of biological weapons
The Soviet Union began a biological weapons program in the 1920s despite the fact that the USSR was a signatory to the 1925 Geneva Convention, which banned both chemical and biological weapons...

 consistent and systematic cheating on its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention
Biological Weapons Convention
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the...

." He also notes, "Now a freeze or a mutually agreed increase is not strictly speaking disarmament at all. And such measures may not even be intended to be a first step towards any kind of reduction or abolition. For the aim may simply be to promote stability in force structures. Hence a new term to cover such cases has become fashionable since the 1960s, namely, arms control."

Disarmament by definition involves inspection and verification procedures. Thus, the book by Seymour Melman
Seymour Melman
Seymour Melman was an American professor emeritus of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science....

, Inspection for Disarmament, addresses various problems related to the problem of inspection for disarmament, evasion teams, and capabilities and limitations of aerial inspection. Gradually, as the idea of arms control displaced the idea of disarmament, the weaknesses of the present arms control paradigm have created problems for the idea of disarmament itself.

See also

  • United Nations Art Collection
    United Nations Art Collection
    The United Nations Art Collection is a collective group of artworks and historic objects donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states, associations, or individuals...

  • Washington Naval Conference
    Washington Naval Conference
    The Washington Naval Conference also called the Washington Arms Conference, was a military conference called by President Warren G. Harding and held in Washington from 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922. Conducted outside the auspices of the League of Nations, it was attended by nine nations...

     of 1921-22
  • Right to arms addresses the meaning of "disarming" in civilian usage

External links