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Arms control and disarmament

"The 52nd IAEA General Conference in Austria 30 September 2008" (IAEA Photo Gallery)

Cooperation in the field of arms control leads not only to legally binding agreements but also to politically binding action plans, declarations and codes of conduct.

Arms control refers to measures taken by virtue of bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements in order to limit the number of weapons and to regulate their use. Disarmament, on the other hand, aims at the elimination of entire weapon system categories.

The concepts often overlap, and agreements and arrangements can have both an arms control and disarmament dimension simultaneously.

The spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery poses a serious threat to international security, and issues related to the WMDs figure prominently in the multilateral arms control cooperation. As regards conventional weapons in international contexts, special attention is paid to projects that are closely linked with the international humanitarian law.

Thanks to international cooperation in arms control issues, not only legally binding agreements but also politically binding action plans, declarations and codes of conduct have been produced. These arrangements are complementary to the existing agreements but also fill the gap caused by a lack of consensus on certain legally binding arrangements. For example, there are no legally binding international agreements that would regulate the manufacture, trade and spread of small arms and light weapons (SALWs); however, problems caused by SALWs have been addressed by means of politically binding action plans. A process launched in summer 2010 towards an international arms trade treaty.

Arms control agreements is supplemented by international export control cooperation, which has intensified in the recent years and which has become an increasingly relevant aspect of the fight against terrorism.

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