Arms control – Historical Overview

Jozef Goldblat holds university degrees in international relations, law,
economics and linguistics. He has been studying the problems of arms
control since the late 1950s and has been involved in disarmament negotia­
tions in various capacities, including service for the United Nations

The practice of negotiating arms control among sovereign nations in an international
forum and in time of peace, with a view to making the measures agreed upon appli­
cable to several or all nations, is relatively recent. Among the earliest efforts in this
field were the two International Peace Conferences held at The Hague at the turn of
the past century.

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2.1 The Hague Peace Conferences


The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1 907 were convened at the initiative of the
Emperor of Russia, which was lagging in the European arms race and could not
afford to catch up with its rivals because of its economic weakness. Russia’s
declared aim was to ensure universal peace and bring about a reduction of
‘excessive’ armaments. The diplomatic note circulated by the Russian Foreign Min­
ister prior to the First Hague Conference stated that the armed peace had become a
burden for the peoples of Europe because intellectual and physical forces, as well as
labour and capital, were to a large extent diverted from their natural applications to
unproductive ends. One hundred and eight delegates from 26 countries participated
in the First Hague Conference, whereas as many as 256 delegates from 44 countries
participated in the Second Conference.

The disarmament goals of the Hague Conferences were not achieved. Proposals
for limiting the calibre of naval guns, the thickness of armour plate and the velocity
of projectiles were rejected. Very few politicians were at that time interested in halt­
ing the competition in anTIs. A resolution was adopted declaring that a restriction on
military expenditure was highly desirable, and governments were asked to examine
the possibility of an agreement on the limitation of armed forces and war budgets.
However, military expenditures in practically all the participating states continued to
grow, and the arms race went on.

Nevertheless, the Hague Conferences contributed to the evolution of international
law by codifying the rules of war, including those which prohibit or restrict the use
of certain insidious types of weapon

 

 

asphyxiating gases, expanding bullets or submarine contact mines.

The territory of neutral countries was declared inviolable.

 

Another achievement was the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,
the forerunner of today’s International Court of Justice. The need for collective
action to settle disputes between states which could not be solved by diplomatic
means and to control the effects of warfare was thus internationally recognized.

These achievements were to a considerable extent  due to pressure exerted by
non-governmental peace advocates, such as Baroness Berta von Suttner, the 1905
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Plans for a third peace conference had to be abandoned
in view of the intensified interstate antagonisms that preceded World War I.

In 1 994 the Russian Foreign Minister proposed to celcbrate the 1 00th anniversary
of the First Peace Conference by convening another such conference. The declared
aim was to improve the system of peaceful scttlement of disputes and further
develop the international humanitarian law of warfare. This proposal did not find
sufficient international support to materialize. However, in 1 999, non-governmental
organizations, meeting in The Hague, adopted an ‘Agenda for Peace and Justice’
that dealt with the root causes of war; international humanitarian and human rights
law and institutions; prevention, resolution and transformation of violent conflict;
and disarmament and human security.

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2.2 The Post-World War I Peace Treaties

 

 

The treaty of Versailles

After World War I, which ended with an armistice, the victorious Allies, led by the
Prime Ministers of Great Britain, France and Italy, as well as the President of the
United States, drafted a peace settlement that called for a substantial disarmament of
the defeated Germany. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles stipulated that the German
Army was to be limited to 1 00,000 men and was not to be allowed to have tanks or
heavy artillery. The German Navy was to be reduced to six battleships, six light
cruisers, 1 2 destroyers and 1 2 torpedo boats, and was to be deprived of submarines.

No military or naval air forces were permitted. Permissible arms munitions and
other war material were specifically enumerated and could be produced only in
Allied-approved factories; their import was prohibited. Strictly forbidden were both
the manufacture and imports of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and all analo­
gous liquids, materials or devices. The same applied to materials especially intended
for the manufacture, storage and use of the said products or devices.
Germany’s General Staff was to be dissolved, universal compulsory military ser­
vice abolished, and any measures of mobilization excluded. Restrictions were
imposed on German military schools; educational establishments or associations
were not allowed to occupy themselves with military matters. In the Baltic and
North Seas, Gernlan fortifications were to be demolished. The left bank of the Rhine
River as well as a 50-kilometre-wide zone east of the Rhine were to be demili­
tarized.

The Treaty of Versailles was largely circumvented or openly violated. The Gen­
eral Staff continued to exist, although in a different form; military personnel were
retained in excess of the set limits, while new personnel were illegally trained;
paramilitary groups were created for reserve duty; arms were maintained in secret
depots; and weapons prohibited by the Treaty were developed and manufactured in
Germany or imported. The supervision of the Treaty entrusted to the Inter-Allied
Commissions of Control was never fully effective and gradually ceased to be exer­
cised. However, verification of compliance was not the major problem: the British
and French governments were quite aware that the Treaty was being violated. It was
rather the inability or unwillingness of these governments to enforce compliance
that made it possible for Germany to rearm. By 1936 the arms control clauses of the
Treaty of Versailles ceased to be operative.

 

 

Other Peace Treaties

Post-World War I peace agreements imposed by the Allied Powers on Germany’s
allies paralleled the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles. They limited
the size of armies and armaments, reduced the navies and prohibited air forces.
Thus, the 1 91 9 Peace Treaty, signed at St Germain-en-Laye, limited the Austrian
Army to 30,000 men; the 1919 Peace Treaty, signed at Neuilly, limited the Bulgar­
ian Army to 20,000 men and required thc surrender of most of its arms and war
material; and the 1 920 Peace Treaty, signed at Trianon, reduced the Hungarian
Army to 35,000 men. The 1920 Peace Treaty, signed at Sevres, imposed limitations
on Turkey but was never implemented owing to Turkey’s internal upheaval and
Turkish-Greek fighting. It was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1 923.
In introducing restrictions on the armaments of the vanquished nations, the vic­
torious powers committed themselves to limit their own armaments. This was to
take place in accordance with the principles set out by the newly founded League of
Nations.

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2.3 The League of Nations

 

 

 

The Covenant

The Covenant of the League of Nations, which formed Part I of the Treaty of Ver­
sailles, required the reduction of armaments of all nations ‘to the lowest point con­
sistent with national safety and the en forcement by common action of international
obligations’. Members of the League undertook to exchange information regarding
the scale of their armaments, their military, naval and air force programmes, and the
condition of those of their industries that were adaptable to warlike purposes. The
Council of the League was to formulate plans for armaments reduction for the con­
sideration of and action by governments, taking account of the geographical situa­
tion and the circumstances of each state. A Permanent Court of International Justice
was to be created. Anns build-up ceased to be a matter of purely national concern.

To advise the Council of the League on implementation of the disarmament pro­
visions of the Covenant, a Permanent Advisory Commission was set up, composed
of military, naval and air force representatives appointed by each state member of
the Council. Moreover, a Temporary Mixed Commission was formed to examine
the relevant political, social and economic questions. In 1 925, a Preparatory
Commission consisting of representatives of both members and non-members of the
League started its deliberations regarding the envisaged Disarmament Conference.
This Commission held six sessions and was dissolved in 1930 after it had submitted
a draft Convention on the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments.

 

 

The League of Nations Yearhooks

The League of Nations spent more time and effort on disarmament than on any other
subject. In 1924 its Secretariat began to publish the Armaments Year-book on the
strength and equipment of the states’ armed forces. The yearbook was based on pub­
lic sources; certain editions included data on the production and exchange of goods
related to national defence, as well as information on paramilitary formations and
police forces. An indication of the size and trends of military spending was also
gIven. Yet another publication, the Statistical Year-hook of the League of Nations,
contained data on the international transfers of arms and ammunition and showed
the values of imports and exports according to official national statistics. The figures
were approximate, incomplete and generally non-comparable, while trade in certain
important categories of arms was not covered at all. Nonetheless, both yearbooks
made it possible to bring the problem of armaments within the reach of the general
public for the first time. They also provided a tool for the League activities aimed at
controlling the international trade in arms and the manufacture of arms.

 

 

Attempts to Regulate Arms Trade and Production

Earlier attempts to regulate the arms trade had been limited to one continent, or a
part of it, as under the 1 890 Brussels Act prohibiting the introduction of firearms
and ammunition to Africa between latitudes 20° North and 22° South (except under
effective guarantees), or to one country, as in the case of the 1 906 Act of Algeciras
repressing the contraband of arms to Morocco. The League of Nations was the first
international body entrusted (by its Covenant) with general supervision of the trade
in arms and ammunition and with prevention of the ‘evil effects’ attendant upon the
private manufacture of munitions and implements of war.

 

The 1919 St Germain Convention. Under the 1919 St Germain Convention for the
Control of the Trade in Arms and Ammunition, which was worked out in confor­
mity with the relevant provisions of the League of Nations Covenant, there was to
be no arms export, save for exceptions to be permitted by means of export licences
granted by governments. A comprehensive list of armaments to which different reg­
ulations were applicable was drawn up, and transparency, or what was then called
‘publicity’, for the arms trade was required. However, the Convention never came
into force, mainly because of the refusal of the United States to ratify it. This meant
that the original aim of the Convention -that of preventing an uninhibited spread
throughout the world of those weapons which the belligerent powers had accumu­
lated during World War I and for which they had no further use -could not be
achieved.

The 1925 Geneva COI1l’entioll Oil the Arms Trade. Subsequent efforts in this field
led to the signing in Geneva, in 1 925, of the Convention for the Supervision of the
International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in Implements of War. This Con­
vention distinguished five categories of arms: (a) arms exclusively designed and
intended for land, sea and air warfare; (b) arms capable of use for both military and
other purposes; (c) war vessels and their normal armament; (d) aircraft (assembled
or dismantled) and aircraft engines; and (e) gunpowder, explosives and arms not
covered by the first two categories.

An export licence or declaration was required for export of any item in the first
category; authorization by the government of the importing country was also neces­
sary if these items were exported to private persons. Similarly, items in the second
category could be exported only when accompanied by an export document, but
prior authorization of the government of the importing country was not necessary. In
the case of the third category, detailed information was to be published regarding
vessels transferred and those constructed on behalf of the government of another
state, including armaments installed on board. As regards the fourth category, a
return was to be made public giving the quantities of aircraft and aircraft engines
exported as well as the country of destination. Trade in items belonging to the fi fth
category was not to be subject to any restriction, unless the commodities were des­
tined for certain territorial and maritime zones in Africa or the Middle East, referred
to as ‘special zones’ and specified in the Convention.

The purpose of the 1 925 Convention was not to reduce the international trade in
arms, which was seen as a legitimate activity, but to prevent illicit traffic. This was
to be accomplished through universal export licensing by governments and through
publicity in the form of statistical returns. However, no supervision of anns produc­
tion was provided for. This inequity was the main reason why many countries, espe­
cially non-producing, arms-importing countries, refused to ratify the Convention,
which consequently never entered into force.

Of the documents signed simultaneously with the 1925 Convention, only the Pro­
tocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other
Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare became effective and remains in
force.

The 1929 Proposal jar Supervision o(Arms Production. In 1 929, a special com­
mittee set up by the Council of the League of Nations submitted a draft convention
for the ‘supervision of the private manufacture and publicity of the manufacture of
anns and ammunition and of implements of war’. Accord ing to the draft, no private
manufacture of arms belonging to the first four categories established by the 1 925
Geneva Convention, referred to above, would be permitted, unless licensed by gov­
ernments. Moreover, data were to be published showing the value, quantity and
weight of arms of the first, second and fourth categories which had been manufac­
tured in private enterprises (under licence) or in state-owned establishments.
Objections were raised with regard to different provisions of the draft, mainly
those related to restrictions on private manufacture of arms and disclosure of data on
anns industry. Demands were put forward by some governments to abolish private
manufacture of arms or to internationalize all arms production. In this situation, it
became impossible to reach agreement.

 

 

Organizing the Peace

The 1924 Geneva Protocol. In 1 924, the Assembly of the League of Nations
adopted a plan for the organization of peace, known as the 1924 Geneva Protocol.
The Protocol prohibited recourse to war under any circumstances; it determined that
a state which refused to resort to arbitration, or to comply with the provisional
measures prescribed by the Council, should be presumed to be the aggressor; it
made compulsory the application of sanctions; and it stipulated that all disputes
should be terminated by a binding decision pronounced by the Permanent Court of
International Justice, the Council of the League or a board of arbitration.

The Protocol proved unacceptable to many states, which objected to the require­
ment of compulsory arbitration for all disputes. (Under the Covenant, only grave
interstate disputes were to be submitted to arbitration or judicial settlement, or to
enquiry by the Council.) Opponents of the Protocol were also reluctant to assume
the burdens inherent in the application of sanctions.

The 192R Kellogg–Briol7d Pact. The most remarkable agreement reached in the
inter-war period to abolish the use of violence in relations among nations was the
Pact for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy signed in Paris
in 1 928 and in force since 1 929. The parties to this treaty, also known as the
Kellogg-Briand Pact (after the US Secretary of State and the French Foreign Minis­
ter, who had negotiated it), gave up recourse to aggressive war. Without renouncing
the right to self-defence, they agreed that the settlement of all disputes or conflicts
which might arise among them would always be sought by peaceful means. With the
participation of Germany, Japan and the United States, the Kellogg-Briand Pact
managed to achieve a higher degree of universality than the Covenant of the League
of Nations. Unlike the Covenant, however, it did not establish a permanent super­
visory organization; nor did it envisage sanctions in the case of breaches.

 

 

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2.4 The First World Disarmament Conference

In depriving war of legitimacy, the 1925 Kellogg-Briand Pact provided an impetus
for the 1932 Disarmament Conference, the only conference held prior to World
War II to discuss a universal reduction and limitation of all types of armament.
Convened in Geneva under the auspices of the League of Nations, it was attended
by representatives of over 60 states. Without prejudging the decisions of the Confer­
ence, the participating governments were asked to refrain, for a period of one year,
from any measure involving an increase in their armaments. This so-called arma­
ments truce was later extended for a few months.

Public opinion was very active throughout the Disarmament Conference. Prior to
the opening of the Conference, several international organizations adopted resolu­
tions in which they set out their views as to the way in which various problems of
disarmament should be approached. Their representatives were allowed access to
the Conference, and a special plenary meeting was held at which petitions were pre­
sented. Thousands of letters and messages were addressed to the President of the
Conference from all over the world.

The following questions were examined in detail by specialized commissions,
sub-commissions and committees of the Disarmament Conference: (a) establishment
of a system of collective security; (b) limitation of the strength of the armed forces;
(c) limitation of land, naval and air armaments; (d) limitation of national defence
expenditures; (e) prohibition of chemical, incendiary and bacteriological warfare;
(f) control of arms manufacture and trade; (g) supervision and guarantees of imple­
mentation of the obligations contracted by the parties; and (h) ‘moral disarmament’
intended to create an atmosphere favourable to the peaceful solution of international
problems.

A draft convention, drawn LIp by the Preparatory Commission, was first to be
submitted to the Conference for consideration. Subsequently, a British draft was
accepted as the basis for the future convention, and a provisional text taking account
of the modifications to this draft was published in September 1 933, along with
amendments proposed and statements made by various delegations. Summaries of
the points of agreement and disagreement revealed at the Conference follow below.

 

 

Renunciation of” War

The participating states were willing to enter into immediate consultation in the
event of a breach, or threat of breach, of the 1 928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, with the
purpose of preserving peace and averting conflict. Such consultation could be set in
motion by the Council or the Assembly of the League of Nations or by a state not
member of the League. A draft undertaking not to resort to force, to be signed by all
the European states, was adopted, and various delegations expressed the hope that
the undertaking would subsequently assume a universal character. In a message to
the Conference, the President of the United States proposed that all nations should
conclude a ‘solemn and detinite’ pact of non-aggression.

Positions were less clear, however, as regards the definition of an aggressor, the
procedure for establishing facts constituting aggression and the problem of mutual
assistance.

 

 

Armed Forces, Armaments and Defence Expenditures

The negotiators agreed, in principle, that a quantitative limitation and subsequent
reduction of armed forces should be brought about. Nevertheless, no common deci­
sion could be reached on how to assign definite figures of effectives to individual
states. It was also generally understood that qualitative disarmament should apply,
in the first place, to those weapons which were most specifically offensive, most
efficacious against national defence or most threatening to civilians, but controver­
sies arose regarding the applicability of these criteria to individual categories of
arms.

Among the proposals for the limitation of land armaments, the most remarkable
was that submitted by the United States, requiring that tanks and heavy mobile land­
guns should be abolished. However, the draft convention went no further than to
suggest maximum limits for the weight ofa tank and for the calibre of mobile land­
guns; only tanks and guns exceeding the fixed limits would be abolished. Various
suggestions were made concerning the numerical ceilings to be prescribed, as well
as the time limits for destruction of excess material. The French delegation moved
that weapons exceeding the prescribed limits should be internationalized. It also
made its acceptance of the provisions relating to land war material conditional upon
the organization of an effective system of supervision, particularly with regard to the
manufacture of arms.

The discussions of naval armaments were determined largely by the 1 922 Wash­
ington and 1930 London Naval Treaties, which had limited the sizes of the major
powers’ navies and were subject to revision at an international conference scheduled
for 1 935. Pending this conference, Great Britain proposed that the stipulations of
both treaties should be retained; states not bound by these treaties would pledge to
observe the status quo, meaning that any new warship construction undertaken
before 1935 could on Iy replace ‘over-age’ tonnage. Measures proposed by other
delegations went considerably further. It was, for example, suggested that sub­
marines and aircraft carriers should be abolished by all states. Strong objections
were raised against attempts to incorporate the provisions of the two above­
mentioned treaties, which had been concluded by a few naval powers, into what was
intended to be a universal disarmament convention.

The draft submitted by the Preparatory Commission of the Disarmament Confer­
ence provided for limitations on the number and the total horsepower of military
aircraft. In the course of the Conference, several proposals were put forward with a
view to strengthening these provisions. Certain delegations suggested that military
aviation should be abolished altogether, while others only recommended a ban on
bombing from the air. It was assumed that internationalization or other regulatory
measures would be needed to prevent states from using civil aviation for military
purposes. According to the British draft, the adoption of concrete undertakings in
this field was to be left to the next disarmament conference, whereas limits on the
numbers of aeroplanes capable of use in war would be accepted without delay.

As regards limitations on national defence expenditures, a technical committee of
the Conference recognized that it was possible for states to draw up, for all practical
purposes, a complete statement of such expenditures, and for an international super­
visory body to veri fy, with a high degree of accuracy, how these amounts had been
calculated. However, certain members of this committee pointed out the difficulties
arising from currency fluctuations and from the different methods of accountancy
used by governments. The need for periodic publicity to be given to the parties’
defence expenditures -irrespective of the nature and origin of the resources from
which these expenditures were met -was thoroughly discussed. The instruments
necessary for the application of the system of publicity were specified.

 

 

Chemical, Incendiary and Bacteriological Warfare

The draft convention prohibited the use of chemical weapons, including lachryma­
tory, irritant or vesicant substances as well as incendiary or bacteriological weapons,
against any state and in any war, whatever its character. Lachrymatory substances
intended for use in police operations, as well as appliances for the use of these sub­
stances, would have to be declared by the parties. All preparations for chemical,
incendiary or bacteriological warfare would be prohibited in time of peace as in time
of war. Accordingly, the manufacture, import, export or possession of appliances or
substances suitable exclusively for chemical or incendiary warfare or suitable for
both peaceful and military purposes but intended for use in violation of the conven­
tion would be banned. Similarly, instruction and training of armed forces in the use
of chemical, incendiary or bacteriological weapons and means of warfare would be
forbidden. A procedure of enquiry and on-the-spot investigation of the alleged uses
of the prohibited weapons was provided for. The right of reprisal, however, was rec­
ognized, as was the right to possess material and installations necessary to ensure
individual or collective protection against the effects of chemical, incendiary or bac­
teriological weapons, and to conduct training with a view to such protection.

 

 

Arms Trade and Manufacture

In taking up the subject of the trade in and manufacture of arms, the Conference had
before it the 1925 Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms
and Ammunition and in Implements of War (not in force) providing for control and
publicity in respect of exports of certain categories of anns, as well as the 1929 draft
convention subjecting private manufacture of arms to a system of licensing and pub­
licity. Many delegations argued that since these two documents had been formulated
new facts and ideas had emerged and that there was therefore a need for more com-
plete regulations. Others were unwilling to accept stricter controls. The main ques­
tions concerned the principle of state responsibility for, and the kind of publicity to
be given to, the trade in and manufacture of arms as well the principle of qualitative
and quantitative limitations on manufacture.

A report published in 1 935 included texts reflecting unanimity on the need for an
effective system of control and regulation of the arms trade and manufacture. How­
ever, considerable differences remained with regard to the character of the measures
necessary to bring such a system into being. The requirement of equality between
countries producing arms and those not producing them was acknowledged, but
opinions differed as to how to achieve such equality. Certain delegations made their
position on arms trade and manufacture conditional upon the nature and extent of
the obligations which the parties would undertake under a general disarmament con­
vention.

 

 

Verification and Sanctions

The need for effective international control of compliance with the obligations
assumed by the parties was strongly emphasized throughout the debates of the Con­
ference. It was agreed that a Permanent Disarmament Commission to be set up at
the seat of the League of Nations and composed of representatives of the parties
should be ready to assume its duties as soon as the convention entered into force.

These duties were to include investigations of alleged infractions of the convention.

Moreover, there were to be regular inspections of armaments of each state, at least
one per year, on the basis of equality between the parties.

As regards guarantees of implementation, it was assumed that in case of an estab­
lished breach of the provisions of the convention, the Council of the League would
exercise its rights under the Covenant. However, the French delegation insisted on
defining more precisely the action to be taken in such an event. It proposed that the
Permanent Disarmament Commission should demand that the party at fault fulfil its
undertakings within a fixed period. The Commission should also appoint an inspec­
tion committee to check whether this demand had been met. I f the violation con­
tinued, the parties could jointly use the necessary means of pressure against the
defaulting state to ensure implementation of the convention. If war should ensue, the
defaulting party was to be subject to sanctions in accordance with the provisions of
the Covenant. These sanctions could include mandatory economic measures, such as
severance of trade and financial relations or interruption of postal and railway com­
munications, as well as non-mandatory military measures to be recommended by the
League’s Council.

 

 

Moral Disarmament

Under the heading of moral disarmament the Conference discussed questions relat­
ing to education, cooperation among intellectuals, the press, broadcasting, theatre
and cinema. The committee dealing with moral disarmament adopted a text stating
that parties should undertake to ensure that education at every stage should be so
conceived as to inspire mutual respect between peoples and emphasize their inter­
dependence. The parties would further undertake to ensure that persons entrusted
with education and preparing textbooks were inspired by these principles, to encour­
age the use of cinema and broadcasting for increasing the spirit of goodwill among
nations and to use their influence to avoid the showing of films, broadcasting of
programmes or organization of performances obviously calculated to offend the
legitimate sentiments of other countries.

A proposal to adapt municipal laws to the development of international relations
was also submitted. It provided for legislation to be introduced by the parties,
enabling them to inflict punishment for certain acts detrimental to good relations
among states. Such acts would include preparation and execution of measures
directed against the security of a foreign power, attempts to induce a state to commit
a violation of its international obligations, aiding or abetting armed bands formed in
the territory of one state and invading the tenitory of another state, dissemination of
false information likely to disturb international relations and false attribution to a
foreign state of actions likely to bring it into public contempt or hatred. It was also
suggested that the parties should pledge thcmselves to consider introducing into
their state constitutions an article prohibiting resort to force as an instrument of
national policy, embodying thereby the principles of the 1 928 Kellogg-Briand Pact.
Suspension o(the Disarmament Conference

After several years of work, agreement seemed to have been achieved on the follow­
ing points: certain methods of warfare should be prohibited; armaments should be
limited both qualitatively, through the abolition of some particularly powerful types
of weapon, and quantitatively, through a reduction in the numbers of the weapons
retained; manufacture of and trade in arms should be placed under supervision; pub­
licity should be given to national defence expenditures; inspections should make it
possible to establish violations; and implementation of the disarmament obligations
should be guaranteed. However, the withdrawal of Germany from both the Dis­
armament Conference and the League of Nations, as well as German rearmament in
violation of the Treaty of Versaillcs, brought about a breakdown of attempts to
transform these agreed points into a generally acceptable disarmament convention.
In early 1 936, the Council of the League decided to suspend the Disarmament Con­
ference.

The Conference never reconvencd. Howcver, much can be learned from the
record of its deliberations, which includes a thorough examination of the political,
technical, economic, legal and moral aspects of disarmament. Many ideas put for­
ward at the League of Nations, both before and during the Disarmament Conference,
have been revived in recent years, and a number of points made at that time remain
topical.

 

 

2.5 The Post-World War II Peace Treaties

 

 

Treaties with Bulgaria, HungaFl’, Fillland, ltal\’ and Romania
In the early post-World War II years, a major international problem was the demili­
tarization of the vanquished states. The Peace Treaties concluded by the Allied
Powers in 1947 with Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, Italy and Romania imposed the
following arms restrictions.

Each of these five states was prohibited from possessing, constructing or testing
any atomic weapon, any self-propelled or guided missiles or apparatus connected
\with their discharge (other than torpedoes and torpedo-launching gear comprising
the normal armament of naval vessels permitted by the treaty), sea mines of non­
contact types, torpedoes capable of being manned, submarines or other submersible
craft, motor torpedo boats or specialized types of assault craft.
As regards limitations on land forces, including frontier troops, Italy was not
allowed to exceed 1 85,000 combat, service and overhead personnel and 65,000
carabinieri; Bulgaria 55,000 personnel plus 1 ,800 for anti-aircraft artillery;
Hungary 65,000 personnel, including anti-aircraft and river flotilla personnel;
Romania -1 20,000 personnel plus 5,000 for anti-aircraft artillery; and Finland-
34,400 personnel, including anti-aircraft personnel.
As regards limitations on naval forces, Italy was not authorized to have more than
25,000 personnel and 67,500 tons of the total displacement of war vessels; Bulgaria,
3,500 personnel and a total of 7,250 tons; Romania, 5,000 personnel and a total of
1 5,000 tons; and Finland, 4,500 personnel and a total of 10,000 tons.
As regards limitations on air forces, Italy was forbidden to possess more than 200
fighter and reconnaissance aircraft and 1 50 transport, air-sea rescue, training and
liaison aircraft, with a total personnel strength of 25,000; Bulgaria 90 aircraft, of
which not more than 70 could be combat types of aircraft, with a total of 5,200 per­
sonnel; Hungary -90 aircraft, of which not more than 70 could be combat types of
aircraft, with a total of 5,000 personnel; Romania 1 50 aircraft, of which not more
than 100 could be combat types of aircraft, with a total of 8,000 personnel; and Fin­
land 60 aircraft, with a total of 3,000 personnel. All five countries were barred
from possessing or acquiring any aircraft designed primarily as bombers with inter­
nal bomb-carrying facilities.

Because of the division of Europe into two antagonistic military blocs, full
implementation of the military clauses of the 1 947 Peace Treaties proved impos­
sible. In April 1 949 Italy became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and considered itself released from the obligations under the
military clauses of its Peace Treaty, which it denounced in 1952. In September 1 990
Finland stated that the Peace Treaty stipulations restricting Finnish military capabil­
ities had become null and void, with the exception of the ban on the acquisition of
nuclear weapons. Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania practically abrogated the military
provisions of their Peace Treaties when they signed treaties of mutual assistance
with the Soviet Union in 1 948, and when they joined the Warsaw Treaty
Organization (WTO) in 1955. However, none of the latter three countries has for­
mally denounced its Peace Treaty with the Allied Powers.

 

 

The Austrian State Treaty

The 1955 State Treaty for the Re-establishment of an Independent and Democratic
Austria stipulated that A ustria should not possess, construct or experiment with any
atomic weapon; any other major weapon adaptable to mass destruction and defined
as such by the appropriate organ of the United Nations; any self-propelled or guided
missiles or torpedoes, or apparatus connected with their discharge or control; sea
mines; torpedoes capable of being manned; submarines or other submersible craft;
motor torpedo boats; specialized types of assault craft; guns with a range of over 30
kilometres; asphyxiating, vesicant or poisonous materials or biological substances in
quantities greater than, or of types other than, those required for legitimate civil pur-
poses, or any apparatus designed to produce, project or spread such materials or
substances for war purposes. The Allied Powers reserved the right to add to this list
prohibitions of any new weapons that might result from scienti fic development.
In November 1990, in a formal communication sent to the signatories of the State
Treaty, Austria declared that the military clauses of the Treaty had become obsolete,
with the exception of those concerning atomic, biological or chemical weapons.

 

 

 

Restrictions on Germany’s Armament

Concluding a peace treaty with Germany, the country responsible for the outbreak
of World War II, proved impossible in the atmosphere of the Cold War, which
began between the major victorious powers soon after the termination of hostilities.

The imposition of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, subversive activities in
Greece and, in particular, the blockade of Berlin in 1948-49 had generated Western
fears of aggressive intentions on the part of the Soviet Union. The response of the
Western Allies was to seek closer unity among themselves as well as cooperation in
defence matters with their former German enemy. The first moves in this direction
had been the proposals of the early 1 950s for a unified Western European Army.

These failed when France refused to ratify the European Defence Community
Treaty of 1 952. The idea was then put forward to allow the Federal Republic of
Germany (FRG) to join the 1 948 Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collab­
oration and Collective Self-Defence among Western European States (the Brussels
Treaty), in return for controls over German armaments and force levels. This new,
less federalist formula was conceived with a view to making West German rearma­
ment acceptable to those in Western Europe who feared a resurgence of German
military power, thereby removing the political obstacles to West German member­
ship of NATO.

At conferences in London and Paris, held in 1954, the Brussels Treaty was modi­
fied, in particular through the creation of the Council of Western European Union
(WEU) and the requirement that the parties and the organs established by them work
in close cooperation with NATO. Several protocols to the Treaty were agreed as paI1
of the so-called Paris Agreements. By May 1 955 these protocols had been ratified
by all the countries concerned -Belgium, France, the FRG, Italy, Luxembourg, the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom -which thus formed the WEU. The arma­
ments and force levels of its members were to be submitted to control -albeit to
varying degrees -by the Agency for the Control of Armaments (ACA).

In Annex I of Protocol No. III to the Treaty, the Federal Chancellor declared that
the FRG undertook not to manufacture in its territory any atomic, chemical or bio­
logical weapons. Another undertaking of the Federal Republic was not to manufac­
ture in its territory long-range missiles, guided missiles and influence mines (defined
as ‘naval mines which can be exploded automatically by influences which emanate
solely from external sources’); large warships, including submarines; and bomber
aircraft for strategic purposes -all specified in Annex III. Modification or cancella­
tion of the latter undertaking could, upon request of the Federal Republic, be carried
out by a resolution adopted by a two-thirds majority of the WEU Council if, in
accordance with the needs of the armed forces, an appropriate recommendation were
made by the Supreme Commander of NA TO. As regards other categories of arma­
ment, the FRG was subject to the same type of control as other WEU members:
stocks of specified weapons maintained on the mainland of Europe were not to
exceed NATO requirements nor levels approved by the WEU Council. The ACA
thus had to exercise two different types of control: non-production control with
regard to the Federal Republic, and level-of-stock control with regard to all WEU
members.

The restrictions on West German conventional armament were subject to continu­
ous revisions and cancellations. The last items to be removed from the list of prohib­
ited weapons -following the decision adopted in June 1 984 -were guided weapons
with ranges exceeding 70 kilometres and bomber aircraft for strategic purposes. As
regards atomic, chemical and biological weapons, both the Federal Republic of
Germany and the German Democratic Republic had for years been internationally
bound by the 1 968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1 925 Geneva Protocol and the
1 972 Biological Weapons Convention. In 1 990, on the eve of German unification,
the governments of both German states reaffirmed their contractual and unilateral
undertakings not to manufacture, possess or have control over nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons. The united Germany became a party to the 1 993 Chemical
Weapons Convention.

 


Restrictions on Japan’s Armament

In June 1 947, the representatives of nations that had been engaged in the war against
Japan met as the Far Eastern Commission and adopted a decision on basic post­
surrender policy for Japan. Japan was not to have any army, navy, air force, secret
police organization, civil aviation or gendarmerie; it was, however, allowed to have
adequate civilian police forces. Japan’s ground, air and naval forces were to be dis­
armed and disbanded, and the Japanese General Staff was to be dissolved. Military
and naval materiel, military and naval vessels, and military and naval installations as
well as military, naval and civilian aircraft had to be surrendered to the Allied com­
manders in the zones of capitulation of the Japanese troops and disposed of in
accordance with decisions of the Allied Powers. Inventories were to be made and
inspections authorized to ensure complete execution of these provisions.

In a more specific policy decision on the prohibition of military activity in Japan
and the disposition of Japanese military equipment, adopted in February 1 948, the
Far Eastern Commission imposed bans on: the possession of arms, ammunition and
implements of war by any Japanese citizen, except for police and hunting purposes;
the development, manufacture, import and export of anns, ammunition and imple­
ments of war and materials intended for military use, except for the import of arms
and ammunition for non-military purposes mentioned above; the manufacture of air­
craft of all kinds; the construction of any naval combatant or auxiliary vessel or
craft, the conversion of any commercial vessel or craft to military purposes, or the
reconstruction or remodelling of commercial vessels or craft so as to render them
more suitable for military purposes; and military training of the civilian population
and military instruction in schools. The Constitution of Japan provides for the
renunciation of war and non-possession of a war potential.

In September 1 951 ,  Japan regained its international status when its former
enemies -with the exception of China, India and the Soviet Union -signed a peace
treaty. The Allied military occupation ended in 1 952, after which US armed forces
remained in Japan under a special agreement.

Most of the severe restrictions imposed on Japan in the military field were lifted
relatively quickly, and Japan established Self-Defence Forces (SDF). As early as
1955, in a joint US-Japanese statement, the Foreign Minister of Japan indicated that
Japan’s defence strength had reached a considerable level. He agreed with the US
Secretary of State that efforts should be made to establish conditions in which Japan
could, as rapidly as possible, assume primary responsibility for the defence of its
homeland and be able to contribute to the preservation of peace and security in the
Western Pacific. Already at the end of the 1 980s Japan found itself among the
world’s leading military spenders, and its SDF, comprising the army, air force and
navy, had reached a high degree of technological sophistication. In 1 992, the
Japanese Parliament passed a controversial bill permitting SDF to participate in UN
peacekeeping operations.

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