Program on Global Security & Cooperation Social Science Research Council The Future of Multilateral Arms Control Paris, June 27-28 The war in Iraq has once again raised fundamental questions about the viability of the multilateral arms control regime worldwide. By circumventing longstanding rules and protocols about problems of compliance, the U.S. Government has weakened the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the decision-making mechanisms of the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council, and associated agreements and treaties such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Iraq’s wavering response to the inspection demands of the United Nations was also a source of erosion of confidence in the arms-control process. The Program on Global Security & Cooperation of the Social Science Research Council is convening a workshop in Paris to explore these troubling events for their larger and more durable implications. While weapons of mass destruction have not yet been discovered in Iraq, the U.S. military victory may nonetheless collapse the multilateral arms-control regime altogether. Even an ambiguous outcome with respect to Iraq's possession of WMDs has impacts on the arms-control regimes, because the decision to wage war is the "fact on the ground" that will affect perceptions of the health and utility of the NPT, CWC, etc. If any evidence of WMDs is found, it could be held that the NPT, the IAEA, and the U.N. Security Council were inadequate in preventing Iraq, despite repeated warnings, inspections, and diplomacy, from attaining a lethal WMD capability. (Even the discovery of some chemical weapons would affect the entire multilateral regime beyond the CWC, to which Iraq was not a party.) Current concerns with Iran’s nuclear program and the stated intentions of North Korea may further undermine the integrity of the arms control process, though for different reasons: Iran is developing nuclear energy sources legally; North Korea has already violated NPT restrictions and has withdrawn from the regime. India and Pakistan remain outside the reach of the regulatory institutions, as does Israel. Previous Bush administration actions—withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and blocking efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention—have also contributed to the decline in the vitality of arms control. Given these fundamental challenges, can the institutions and treaties of arms control be revived sufficiently to be in any sense meaningful? In what ways does the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption undermine or implicate these institutions? Do the origins of these institutions—e.g., heavily influenced by the major powers, and limited to technical issues—make them weak instruments when the “rules” of international relations change? For example, the legal development of nuclear technologies by Iran becomes a problem when set in the context of its support for Hezbollah, a consideration outside the purview of the NPT and unlikely to be engaged by the Security Council. The U.S. military victory in Iraq also has other implications. The Atlantic institutions, while not at risk as much as the specifically arms-control institutions, are likely to come under new pressure as the United States becomes emboldened in its unilateral posture. These trends could also bring the United States and Russia into a new period of confrontation, particularly with respect to Iran. How does the European Union conceive of its global security role in the face of U.S. unilateralism? Is NATO, in particular, a viable institution? Is the Bush administration's assertiveness on Iraq likely to be sustained in other policy arenas, such as trade, or in security cooperation, as with the "war on terrorism"? In what ways is U.S. foreign policy now an extension of a particular view of global affairs and America's place in the world? Finally, if the formal, legal institutions of arms restraint are fatally weakened, can we imagine and describe new forms of restraint on weapons proliferation, deployment, and use that do not depend on military power? The SSRC workshop will bring together about fifteen scholars from around the world and a range of academic disciplines and practitioner experiences to consider these and other questions. A few participants will be asked to prepare memos for discussion. The group will be comprised of arms control experts, international relations scholars, and area experts. The workshop is expected to lead to new inquiries, and will produce a report and other public documents.
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