Helsinki II

The Future of Arms Control in Europe

by Thomas J. Hirschfeld


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Members of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) agree that arms control in Europe is a continuing process. Yet the European conditions underpinning that consensus have been transformed to the point where past formative concepts — namely, concerns about surprise attack and massive invasion — have been replaced by questions of how to organize collective security in the face of local unrest and potential regional instabilities. This report attempts to relate past arms control achievements to future requirements by describing what has been done and how Europe has changed since earlier negotiations began and by anticipating how the arms control and confidence-building frameworks already established can be adapted to new conditions. Research for the report included examination of treaty texts and review of suggestions by people connected with or interested in plans for the CSCE conference scheduled for March 1992 in Helsinki. To succeed, Helsinki should be more than just another chance to manage transition from the familiar East-West framework into the unknown, or an opportunity to create more Euro-forums. The author suggests that more is possible if CSCE participants (1) build on achievements of the past, (2) identify common CSCE approaches to more defensive force orientations, (3) prevent regional disputes from becoming conflagrations, and (4) conclude the business of the Vienna negotiations.

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