Article

Arms Control

William Keylor

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0001
Arms Control

Preview

In the history of warfare, periodic and usually unsuccessful efforts have been made to establish rules of war that would protect noncombatants, require humane treatment of prisoners of war, and in other ways restrict the behavior of warring parties. One category of such efforts to mitigate the consequences of warfare has been campaigns to impose either qualitative or quantitative limits on the weapons of war. These efforts have been prompted by three major considerations. The first is the conviction that certain types of weapons are intrinsically inhumane and should be banned altogether from warfare. The second is the belief that restricting armaments that individual states may possess is an effective means of reducing the likelihood of war. The third is the old assumption that since a “balance of power” among major states is the most effective guarantee of international security, the equality in military power that can be achieved through arms limitation agreements is conducive to world peace because it enhances each power’s sense of security. Sporadic attempts to impose limits to arms races have occurred throughout history. None has been successful until the advent of nuclear weapons during the Cold War and the prospect of mass destruction. Multilateral and bilateral negotiations produced a series of agreements that imposed restraints on the nuclear arms race as well as on biological weapons. With the end of the Cold War, an agreement was reached to place limits on the production of chemical weapons and to prevent the spread of nuclear weaponry and materials to states as well as to terrorist organizations. In recent years a movement has gained force to promote the radical reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons in the world.

Article.  6347 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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