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Analysis of Confidence Building Mechanisms for Disarmament

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Disarmament is he process in which ex-combatants hand over their weapons in efforts to restore peace and security in a post conflict zone. This process is often difficult and delicate at the same time as the sense of distrust in the community especially the ex-combatants can place the region back into conflict which may turn out to be even worse than the one before. Because of this, there are measures and mechanisms in place in which to go about the process of disarming ex combatants of all conflicting parties during restoration of peace and security sector reforms.

There are two known international mechanisms in place, and they are the United Nations system for the Standardized Reporting of Military Expenditures and the United Nations Register for Conventional Arms.

CBMs have been used in post conflict peacebuilding efforts, during efforts to reduce armed violence and in solving of issues of instability and insecurity. CBMs have also addressed the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, which are the biggest threats to security globally and nationally. Africa being the worst hit continent. CBMs are effective in efforts in reducing SALW, DDR programs, weapons collection programs and in peace building and post conflict reconstruction efforts. Ineffective disarmament contributes to insecurity and deters progress and development in conflict zones. Therefore, effective disarmament is utterly important in helping promote peace for the long term. CBMs help in promoting DDR through communication, regional approaches, and agreements, as well as transparency. For example, in Sierra Leone, simultaneous disarmament was used to build confidence of the Revolutionary United Front and the Civil Defense Force in the disarmament process.

The Conference on Disarmament in 1997, Macintosh divides CBSMs into informational type (A), verification type (B) and constraint (C) measures.

Type A: Information, Interaction, and Communication Measures

Informational and similar type measures include:

  • Information measures: measures requiring or encouraging the provision (exchange) of information about military forces, facilities, structures, and activities. Examples include publication of defense information; weapon system and force structure information exchange; consultative commissions; publication of defense budget figures; and publication of weapon system development information.
  • Experience measures: measures requiring or encouraging the opportunity to interact with officials or experts from other countries. Examples include military personnel exchanges; security expert exchanges; transnational secondments; joint military training and joint military exercises; and seminars discussing doctrine, strategy, and technology issues.
  • Communication measures: measures requiring or encouraging the creation and/or use of shared means of communication. Examples include for the exchange of crisis-related information; joint crisis control centers; and ‘cool lines’ for the regularized distribution of required and/or requested information.
  • Notification measures: measures requiring or encouraging the advance, accurate notification of specified military activities. Examples include advance notification of exercises, force movements, and mobilizations – including associated information about forces involved.

Type B: Verification and Observation Facilitation Measures

Verification and similar measures, such as those of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, include:

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  • Observation-of-movement conduct measures: measures requiring or encouraging the opportunity to observe specified military activities. Examples include mandatory and optional invitations to observe specified activities (with information about the activity) and rules of conduct for observers and hosts.
  • General observation measures: measures requiring or encouraging the opportunity to engage in non-focused ‘looks’ at relatively small and generally specified sections of territory within which activities of interest and/or concern may be occurring or may have recently occurred. Examples include: Open Skies agreements.
  • Inspection measures: measures requiring or encouraging the opportunity to inspect constrained or limited military forces, facilities, structures, and activities. Examples include special observers for sensitive movements and activities; on-site inspections of various forms; and the use of special tagging and tracking devices.
  • Monitoring measures: measures requiring or encouraging the opportunity to monitor constrained or limited military forces, facilities, structures, and activities, principally through the use of monitoring devices. Examples include perimeter monitors; motion sensors for no-go areas; sensors for use in restricted access areas; and activity sensors.
  • Facilitation of verification measures: measures requiring or encouraging participants to facilitate and/or not interfere with agreed verification efforts. Examples include agreement to not interfere with inspection and/or monitoring efforts and agreements specifying how verification efforts are to be assisted or facilitated.

Type C: Constraint Measures

Constraint type measures include:

Activity constraint measures: measures requiring or encouraging participants to avoid, or limit specified types of provocative military activity. Examples include: no harassing activities such as ‘playing chicken’ on the high seas; no harassing or provocative close encounters between military aircraft and/or military aircraft and naval or ground forces; and no harassing activities in airspace near territorial boundaries.

Deployment constraint measures: measures requiring or encouraging participants to avoid or limit the provocative stationing or positioning of military forces. Examples include: no threatening maneuvers or equipment tests; no threatening deployments near sensitive areas (such as tanks near borders); equipment constraints such as no attack aircraft within range of a neighbor’s rear area territory; manpower limits; and nuclear free zones.

Technology constraint measures: measures requiring or encouraging participants to avoid or limit the development and/or deployment of specified military technologies, including systems and subsystems, believed by participating states to have a destabilizing character or impact. Examples include: no replacement of deployed military equipment of certain types (typically tanks, heavily armored combat vehicles, self-propelled artillery, combat aircraft, and combat helicopters) with new, more advanced, and capable types; no modernization of deployed military equipment of certain specified types in certain key, well-defined respects; no training with new systems; no field testing of new designs; and no production of specified new systems and/or subsystems.

Furthermore, there are other types of CBMs used around the other conflict zones. For example, in Asia, they use both soft and hard power methods of CBMs. They include, military, diplomatic, cultural, and political methods of CBM during disarmament. There is also the significance of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975(-1990) where the accords were meant to regulate the process of PCR and PB in Europe (inviolability of Europe frontiers) while still respecting human rights despite the presence of the perpetrators of the already committed conflict crimes. It mainly focused on rejection of use of force or intervention in internal affairs and urge the signatories to respect human rights.

Case Study: Sierra Leone

As mentioned earlier Sierra Leone made progress during the process of post conflict reconstruction by using simultaneous disarmament. This was a step-in confidence building of both conflicting parties that helped deter any doubts and mistrusts which eventually prevented any further conflict. The government established the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR), chaired by the president, in July 1998. An Executive Secretariat reporting to the NCDDR was set up, with responsibility for the overall planning and implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Program. The government’s policy and program framework were developed in close consultation with all the relevant stakeholders: The West African peacekeeping force ECOMOG; the UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL); UN agencies, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID); the World Bank; NGOs; the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone (AFSL); and the affected communities. Eventually, the processes used deemed effective for a while.


Transparency as a virtue is very critical as some scholars of peace studies would say. This is because it offers people the truth in which they find peace with and helps them move forward especially the victims. Peace and security are easily attainable where there is transparency in the process of disarmament because the peoples of the conflicting parties feel safer as there is no presence of weapons in their communities. The UN instruments mentioned earlier were purposefully though in part put in place for this very reason of transparency. Therefore, transparency should always be at the very forefront of the process of disarmament.


  1. James, Macintosh (1996). Confidence Building in the Arms Control Process: A Transformation View. Ottawa: Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada). ISBN 9780662250296. OCLC 433939801.
  2. Maiese, Michelle. ‘Confidence-Building Measures’. Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September 2003.

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Analysis of Confidence Building Mechanisms for Disarmament. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from
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