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International Arms Control and Disarmament



Arms control stood high on the international agenda during the Cold War (1945 – 1990). It was considered an important instrument to mitigate the arms race between East and West and to prevent an escalation of violent conflict in a bipolar world. In the 1990’s disarmament treaties such as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty facilitated the end of the Cold War. Also, the focus on weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons) and large conventional weapons (like airplanes, armoured vehicles, ships) was added with an increasing interest in addressing the negative humanitarian effects of ‘small arms and light weapons’ and anti-personnel landmines. Small arms and light weapons came to be regarded as fuelling intrastate conflicts, the occurrence of which had increased significantly in the 1990’s. Landmines were increasingly considered to be a humanitarian problem as civilians were seriously affected by these weapons. At the same time, weapons of mass destruction remained prominently on the international agenda. India and Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in 1998 and during the first decade of the 21st century crises evolved around the nuclear programs of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In this course, the international attempts at arms control and disarmament are studied. Among others, the following topics will be addressed: specific treaties and organizations such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the mine ban treaty and the Organisation on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the role of international institutions such as the UN, EU and NATO and the role of Dutch arms control and disarmament policy. These and other relevant topics will be discussed in the context of the current academic debates about arms control and disarmament.

Methods of Instruction

Lectures, group discussion, and presentations.


Larsen, J. A., and James J. Wirtz (eds.) (2009), Arms Control. Cooperative Security In A Changing Environment, London, Boulder.

A selection of articles (to be announced on blackboard two weeks prior to the start of the course)


Written exam, papers and presentations.


Tuesday 7 February till 27 March, 9.00-11.00 hrs. in SA37 and
Thursday 9 Feb till 29 March, 9.00-11.00 hrs. in SA37