Conversion Survey, 1997: Global Disarmament and Disposal of Surplus Weapons

By Herbert Wulf; Bonn International Center for Conversion | Go to book overview
outward from the state of origin, but may become a threat to internal security as well. If, at the conclusion of hostilities or in a period of rapid draw-down, the process of disarmament is not thoroughly managed, weapons can seep into the local population and become the seeds of future instability. Coupled with this danger is the potential of weapons falling into the hands of sub-national actors, such as resistance movements, organized crime and so on.For many reasons, policy relating to surplus weapons cannot be solely national in character but must extend outward as well to include transnational collaborative efforts. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, and subsequently Yugoslavia, new states have emerged with nascent or non-existent export control structures. These troubles may be coupled with the inability to deal with the environmental legacy and, to a certain extent, the contractual obligations covering the weapons on their territory. This ebb in national control and responsibility creates unprecedented opportunity for illicit activity and the proliferation of advanced technologies and otherwise safeguarded materials. International cooperation thus becomes a crucial element of surplus weapons policy.
Perspectives
The existence of surplus, in and of itself, is not necessarily problematic. Quite to the contrary, in most instances the generation of surplus signifies a positive event--the easing of international or regional tensions, the conclusion of disarmament agreements or the reduction of a state's armed forces. However, given the scale of surplus now being generated and the nature of the weapons being taken off line, surplus has become and is likely to continue to become the negative outcome of positive events. Surplus creates a host of international and internal security issues and economic and ecological hurdles to be overcome. If the management of surplus is deficient, it poses a variety of security and environmental threats globally. Only when the nature and extent of these threats are fully realized can constructive and determined policy be brought to bear in addressing and stemming their effects.
References
BICC. See: Bonn International Center for Conversion.
Bonn International Center for Conversion. 1996. Conversion Survey 1996. Global Disarmament, Demilitarization and Demobilization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chiles, James R. 1995. "How the Great War on War Surplus Got Won--Or Lost." Smithsonian. December, pp. 52-63.
GAO. See: United States General Accounting Office.
Kopte, Susanne and Peter Wilke. 1995. "Researching Surplus Weapons: Guidelines, Methods, Topics." In Laurance and Wulf, 1995b, pp. 11-15.
Laurance, Edward J. (assisted by Sarah Meek). 1996. The New Field of Micro-Disarmament. Addressing the Proliferation and Buildup of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Brief 7. Bonn: BICC, September.
Laurance, Edward J. and Herbert Wulf (with the assistance of Joseph DiChiaro III). 1995a. Conversion and the Integration of Economic and Security Dimensions. Report 1. Bonn.: BICC, January.
Laurance, Edward J. and Herbert Wulf, eds. 1995b. Coping with Surplus Weapons: A Priority for Conversion Research and Policy. Brief 3. Bonn: BICC. June.
Nassauer, Otfried. 1995. "An Army Surplus --The NVA's Heritage." In Laurance and Wulf, 1995b, pp. 37-67.
Renner, Michael. 1994. Budgeting for Disarmament: The Cost of War and Peace. Worldwatch Paper 122. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.
_____. 1996. Cost of Disarmament: An Overview of the Economic Costs of the Dismantlement of Weapons and the Disposal of Military Surplus. Brief 6. Bonn: BICC, March.
United State's General Accounting Office. 1996. Defense Ammunition. Significant Problems Left Unattended Will Get Worse. GAO/NSIAD-96-129. Washington, DC, June.

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