The term arms control refers to any international limitations aimed at reducing and controlling the production, testing, deployment, and use of weapons. Arms control implies a close collaboration among states, which, despite their desire to protect themselves from any military threats, are expected to follow the international treaties to diminish the likelihood of war (Graham, 2012). However, despite the attempts to reduce the presence of deadly weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological, etc.), their current amount is alarming, not to say shocking. According to the statistics provided by the Amnesty International (2017), 12 billion bullets are produced annually, which is enough to kill the population twice as large as the current world’s population.
Moreover, there are more than 800 million firearms, which are to blame for the horrifying number of deaths every day (Amnesty International, 2017). Therefore, the importance of destroying these arms can hardly be overestimated. In this essay, I argue that appealing incentives and policy actions are needed to make arms control more effective.
It seems that since the invention of deadly firearms and nuclear weapons, people have been trying to control or even stop their production. The Hague Convention of 1899, for example, stressed the importance of prohibiting the use of certain chemical weapons and explosives (Abbenhuis, Barber, & Higgins, 2017). After the World War I, countries agreed to limit the naval forces in an attempt to prevent further deadly conflicts. More treaties followed, which, nevertheless, did not help to prevent the most destructive war in the world history – the Second World War. With the invention of nuclear weapons, another problem emerged. Possessing this type of a weapon gives a state an opportunity to influence international policies, so it is obvious why many countries developed their nuclear programs (Siracusa, 2015). It is clear that even despite the introduction of more international treaties and agreements, some countries still heavily depend on their weapons.
The danger of increased aims production is immense, and the current situation with arms control in the world is extremely worrying. Armed conflicts in the Middle East and other conflict-ridden regions lead to thousands of casualties, which could have been prevented. Civilians including women and children are killed daily, and hundreds more are tortured, injured, and abused using deadly weapons (Amnesty International, 2017). Nuclear weapons in the hands of autocratic and short-sighted political leaders are also extremely dangerous, as one wrong and hasty decision may have devastating consequences for millions of people. One should also not forget about the fact that the production of nuclear weapons leaves large amounts of radioactive waste that poisons the environment and people.
Therefore, I argue that more efforts should be made to design attractive incentives that would encourage states to reduce the production and use of weapons. I do not want to sound naïve, and I admit that arms industry is an extremely lucrative business that will continue to thrive. Yet, I believe that some international incentives, such as compensations, side-payments, and other material incentives can be used to convince the states to introduce stricter arms control policies. Close cooperation of the most powerful states like the United States, Russia, China, the UK, Germany, and others is required to make sure we do not move towards another disastrous world war. To conclude, I would like to note that arms control may seem impossible given the previous vain attempts to influence the situation. However, I believe that there is a hope that political leaders on the highest level will acknowledge their responsibility for the global peace and at least try to suppress their own ambitions and interests to the common benefit.
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Abbenhuis, M., Barber, C. E., & Higgins, A. R. (2017). War, peace and international order?: The legacies of the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907. London: Taylor & Francis.
Amnesty International. (2017). Arms control. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/arms-control/
Graham, T. (2012). Disarmament sketches: Three decades of arms control and international law. Washington, D.C.: University of Washington Press.
Siracusa, J. M. (2015). Nuclear weapons: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.