The Problem of Disarmaments
1. Disarmament in the broad sense means total abolition of armaments of all types i.e. conventional and nuclear.
2. The regulation of armaments however seeks reduction and restriction on the use of armaments.
3. Desire for the total ban on armaments has been expressed time and again since the beginning of the 20th century, but its intensity began to grow only after the Second World War and the use of atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
4. This problem of disarmament is not only legal but economic, political, military and technical.
5. The legal significance grew with the efforts of the UN in formulating comprehensive international conventions.
6. The Covenant of the League of Nations stressed on the need to reduce national armaments in Article 8.
7. Article 8 stated that the maintenance of peace required the reduction of national armaments and common action of international obligations. Further, the league’s Council will in every 10 years after taking into account the geographical position and circumstances of each state, formulate plans for reduction.
8. This was regarded as too ambiguous and moreover, there was no prohibition of use of force or war under the Covenant, thus no basis for implementing disarmament measures.
9. The World Disarmament Conference of 1932-34 aimed at reducing armaments and had a participation of 61 states. But this too failed miserably as it failed to even reconcile the demands of various states on the issue of disarmament.
10. As a result, the Conference adopted a thesis of equality in the sphere of armaments and paved the way to legislation on war preparation. It failed to contribute to disarmament and further intensified the arms race.
UN and the Regulation of Armaments provisions of the Charter
1. One of the main purposes behind the establishment of the UN was the maintenance of peace and security. It advocates disarmament as one of the ways of achieving its goals.
2. Article 11 of the UNC entrusts the GA to consider the general principles governing disarmament and regulation of armaments and to make recommendations in this regard to members or the SC or both.
3. Article 26 makes the SC responsible for plans to be submitted to the members and establish a system for the reduction of armaments.
4. Article 47 refers to the functions of the Military Staff Committee, which is to assist and advise the SC’s military requirements including the regulation of armaments and possibly disarmament.
5. The above provisions do not confer final authority of the UN. It cannot impose the rule of disarmament on states and the provisions of disarmament are too weak.
6. Further it is possible to achieve armament faster than disarmament.
7. The UNC does not define the term “disarmament”. The process of disarmament is not hence no so consistent with the UNC. However some weapons have been banned outright such as, banning the testing of nuclear weapons, restrictions on armaments, chemical weapons treaty, poly weapons etc. while some are on the agenda such as nuclear weapons and land mines.
8. These provisions have been interpreted by jurists differently. Some are of the view that the UNC does not confer authority on the UN to impose upon its members a system for disarmament or even regulation of armaments.
9. The UN has assigned the matter of disarmament on the GA. It approved its Resolution 1(1) in 1946 which included among its goals, “the elimination from the national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.
Disarmament Efforts made by Institutional Machinery
1. In 1946 the Atomic Energy Commission was established by the GA for submission of proposals to the SC regarding the peaceful use of atomic energy and for elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.
2. In 1947 the Commission for Conventional Armaments was established by the SC to consider measures for the reduction of armaments and armed forces, together with an effective system of guarantee.
3. In 1952 both the Commissions were dissolved and were replaced by the Disarmament Commission, established by the GA. It consisted of the members of the SC and Canada.
Their purpose was to prepare proposals for the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction in stages of all armed forces and all armaments.
4. In 1957 and 1958, the Commission was enlarged; the latter included all member states of the UN. However, after this only 2 sessions were held in 1960 and 1965.
5. Efforts were continuously made by the GA towards general and complete disarmament from time to time. Disarmament matters were soon given a new impetus within the bilateral talks of states. Changes were seen in the disarmament machinery.
6. In 1959, the Ten Nation Committee on Disarmament was established.
7. In 1962, the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament was established.
8. In 1969, they changed the name to Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD). Membership extended to 26 and then 30.
9. In 1979, CCD became the Committee on Disarmament and finally in 1983 became the Conference on Disarmament. It was to define its own rules of procedure and develop its own agenda, taking into account the recommendations of the GA. The Secretary General of the Conference was appointed by the Secretary General of the UN.
10. In 1984, the Conference on Disarmament established 4 Ad hoc Committees formerly called working groups.
11. In 1988, the Conference on Disarmament established 5 Ad hoc Committees to continue to work on banning chemical and radiological weapons, preventing arms race in outer space, comprehensive programme on disarmament, effective arrangements against the threat or use of nuclear weapons, etc.
12. In 1993, a Convention was concluded on the banning of chemical weapons through a multilateral treaty prohibiting the development, production and stockpiling of radiological weapons.
Efforts of the General Assembly
1. The GA convened 3 Special Sessions on Disarmament making continuous efforts in relation to disarmaments.
2. The First Session, 1978:
i. A Final Document consisting of an Introduction, a Declaration, a Programme for Action and recommendations concerning disarmament negotiations and machinery for the same was adopted.
ii. This was to be achieved by the Disarmament Commission which constituted all the members of the UN. It was a deliberative body subsidiary to the GA.
3. The Second Session, 1982:
i. The session was mainly about discussions related the Final Document made under the 1st session.
ii. Consensus could not be reached on the acceptance of the draft comprehensive programme of disarmament and thus the members solemnly committed to it all of the State Members of the UN.
4. The First Session, 1988:
i. The following tasks were undertaken, to develop a complete program of action concerning nuclear and conventional disarmament. It was to review and appraise the current international situation thereby achieve progress in the disarmament field.
ii. However no consensus could be reached on the following matters, bringing an end to the arms race in outer space; Creating a relationship between disarmament and development; Creating nuclear-weapon-free zones and zones of peace and acquisition of nuclear capability by South Africa and Israel.
iii. The session was widely viewed as a success even though no consensus could be reached by the parties. This was because it exhibited the interest of various states in the matter.
5. The GA is still determined to make progress in the field of disarmament in spite of the limited success of the 3 Special Sessions.
6. In 1990, it adopted the 7 paragraph Declaration of the 1990’s as the Third Disarmament Decade.
Notable Treaties in the field of Disarmament
A. Partial Test Ban Treaty [PTBT]
1. The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water is commonly known as PTBT which was signed in Moscow in 1963.
2. The treaties provided that all parties to the treaty were to prohibit, prevent and not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control.
3. This treaty did not prohibit nuclear tests underground.
4. It was proposed to convert this treaty into a comprehensive test ban treaty and to this effect an Amendment Conference was held in 1991.
5. The conference failed to reach a unanimous conclusion, however some aspects of comprehensive test ban especially those with regard to sanctions against non-compliance were acknowledged.
6. The treaty thus could not achieve a comprehensive test ban and thus decided to wait for a more appropriate time after achieving progress with respect to the same.
B. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]
1. There are 2 kinds of states involved in this- Nuclear Weapon States [NWS] and Non Nuclear Weapon States [Non NWS].
2. There exist some obligations on the NWS’s.
3. The NWS undertake
i. Not to transfer any nuclear weapons or explosive devices. They will also not transfer any control over such weapons or devices directly or indirectly.
ii. Not to assist, encourage or indulge manufacture or production or acquiring of nuclear weapons.
4. The Non NWS undertake
i. Not to receive any nuclear weapons or other devices or control over them
ii. Not to produce, manufacture or acquire such nuclear weapons or devices.
5. The parties to the treaty undertake to facilitate and participate in exchange of equipments, materials and scientific information for the purpose of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
i. The treaty provides for prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons and devices.
ii. It ensures peaceful means nuclear activities.
iii. It promotes peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
iv. It also encourages and promotes nuclear disarmament.
7. The main problem is that the NWS are under no obligation to commit themselves to total nuclear disarmament.
8. Even though the treaty has to be reviewed every 5 years, no final declaration has been adopted as yet as the NWS has not given any commitment.
9. In 1995, this treaty was extended for an unlimited period. This was done firstly, to receive universal adherence to the treaty, secondly, to prevent any nuclear warfare and thirdly for systematic elimination of armaments.
10. In 2000, all the states came together and demanded a definite plan of action from the US and other NWS.
11. One of the main criticisms of this treaty is that it is inequitable and discriminatory as the Non NWS could not acquire, manufacture or receive any such weapon from any other state. The result was that even thought the treaty provided for non-proliferation, it resulted in horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons.
12. India did not become a party to this treaty as it had a limited and restricted approach.
C. Convention on Biological Weapons, 1972
1. This convention prohibits production, acquisition, retention and stockpiling of biological agents and toxins.
2. If there is non-compliance by one state party, other state parties can approach the SC which will take necessary measures.
D. Convention on Chemical Weapons, 1993
1. Each state party undertakes never under any circumstances, to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or to transfer then directly or indirectly to any other state.
2. They are never to use chemical weapons, never to encourage military preparations to use chemical weapons.
3. These states are never to assist, encourage or induce in any way activities prohibited under this convention.
4. A state not in compliance with the convention shall be required to take remedial action and will be subject to several penalties including sanctions.
5. This treaty has been criticised on the ground that it is not global and it is not verifiable and thus may not work.
E. Nuclear Weapon Free-zone Treaties like the Antarctic Treaty, Outer Space Treaty, Sea bed Treaty as well as the Moon Agreement are agreements where all nuclear acts are prohibited.
Role Played by Superpowers towards the Reduction or Elimination of Arms Race
USA and USSR
1. Bilateral Agreements are sometimes more successful than multilateral agreements.
2. As early as 1963, a MoU was established between USSR and USA to facilitate a disarmament process. A direct link was established between Moscow and Washington known as the ‘hotline’ or ‘hotlink’.
3. Subsequently in 1971, the Satellite Commission was established between USSR & USA followed by high speed satellite transmission i.e. to transmit graphs, texts, materials, etc.
4. Then in order to prevent a nuclear war, there was an agreement called the Nuclear Accident Agreement which provided certain safeguards or measures in case of unauthorised use of nuclear weapons or nuclear accidents.
5. Then in 1972, a treaty was established between USSR and USA called the Anti-Ballistic Missile System or ABM Treaty. This was for the employment, development and testing of ABM systems. This ABM system had its own limitations as this was applicable only to 2 sites, one in the US and the other in USSR. It provided only for 100 launchers in each site.
6. A violation of this treaty was seen when USA decided to deploy a missile in outer space so close to the atmosphere that if USSR launched any missile it would destruct it completely in outer space itself.
7. Further the agreement was concluded whereby both the states agreed not to conduct any ABM launches on land and limit submarine launchers.
8. There was another agreement in 1973 to prevent nuclear warfare between the USA and USSR.
9. In 1974, USA and USSR entered into another agreement known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty which prevented them from conducting any underground tests.
10. In 1979, SALT Treaty (Strategic Armed Limitation Treaty) was entered into which aimed at reducing existing stockpile or armaments and improving on it.
11. This treaty was violated on many accounts by USA and USSR as their domestic laws do not provide for this treaty even though this treaty is of much significance.
12. The Moscow Treaty of 2002, USA and USSR agreed to reduce long range missiles by 2012.
Main Features of Comprehensive Test ban Treaty – Indian Position
1. As the name suggests it puts a total ban on nuclear testing.
2. After 1945, there have been number of efforts towards disarmament, although a total ban has still not been achieved. This may be because of the emergence of superpowers and the Cold War.
3. After the Cold War, the political climate was suitable for CTBT and after many discussions; it led to the adoption of the CTBT in 1996.
4. On one hand there was serious persuasion by states to adopt CTBT but were themselves testing nuclear weapons in 1995 there were about 2000 tests carried out world over, even India was carrying out 1.
5. CTBT was adopted on 10 September, 1996 by a GA Resolution by 158 states which was an overwhelming majority. However, states like India, Libya, etc voted against the treaty and 5 states abstained from voting including Cuba, Lebanon, and Mauritius etc.
6. One of the basic aims of the treaty was to being an end to all nuclear tests and explosions leading to nuclear disarmament.
7. The parties to the treaty undertook not to carry out any nuclear weapon tests or explosions within their jurisdiction or control.
8. The purpose and object of the treaty shall be carried out by the CTBT Organisation, which has other bodies under it such as the Secretariat, Conference of States, Executive, etc.
9. CTBT by virtue of being a treaty is to be incorporated into domestic law.
10. The treaty provides for a verification system which includes:
i. International monitoring system for monitoring compliance or violation of treaty provisions.
ii. Provides for consulting and clarification of treaty provisions.
iii. It provides for on-site inspection.
iv. It provides for confidence building measures.
v. It provides for various non-compliance measures including collective measures against states etc.
11. In case of any dispute, it provides that peaceful means should be resorted to or refers the same to the ICJ.
12. The treaty is to be reviewed every 10 years for an unlimited period.
13. A member has the option of withdrawing from the treaty in case of national interest of the state.
14. The treaty is said to come into force after 180 days of ratification by the states as mentioned in Annexure II of the Treaty.
15. There are 44 states that have been listed in Annexure II and currently only 30 states have ratified the treaty. Among the 44 states there are all the nuclear weapon states and other capable nuclear weapon states.
16. CTBT has currently been signed by 187 states.
17. Following are the reasons as to why the treaty has not been ratified by states like India, Pakistan and Israel:
i. Limited Scope: the treaty has limited scope. On one hand USA insists on other states joining the treaty and on the other the US itself has not ratified it. There must be a time bound program by the US. Since the US has not given its commitment, India too has not signed it. All kinds of nuclear tests have not been banned by the treaty. Only those nuclear tests which result in explosions have been banned, thereby implying that tests can still be carried out as long as there is no explosion. This can easily be done in laboratories and scientifically advanced states. India wants that traditional and advanced testing should be banned however, the US has refused.
ii. Discriminatory and Unequal: All states already possessing nuclear weapons can continue to possess these weapons as long as there is no further testing. This is against Article 2 of the UNC which provides for equal rights.
iii. Insistence on signing: due to the fate of the treaty being in the hands of the 44 states that are listed in Annexure II, many states insist on other weaker states to ratify the treaty.
iv. The current verification system under the CTBT does not have the capability to detect all kinds of nuclear explosions.
v. In a regular situation, underground nuclear testing is banned under CTBT. However, the feasibility of the same shall be examined consequently and the treaty shall be appropriately amended. Thus, the treaty is not a definite one and has scope for change according to the circumstances faced with in the future.
18. Measures provided under CTBT for its compliance
i. The measures must be in accordance with international law.
ii. Collective measures to be adopted should be in consistence with the UNC.
iii. Measures can be initiated by members after a conference has been convened by majority of the states.
iv. The SC may take action in the concerned state.
(Symbiosis Law School)