Disarmament | Research Guide International Law

Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. During the process of reducing a nation's supply of weapons or the strength of its armed forces (arms control, reduction in arms) the main focus nowadays is on three categories of weapons: weapons of an indiscriminate effect, such as cluster munitions and landmines, biological and chemical weapons and the (non-) proliferation of nuclear weapons (nuclear disarmament). General and complete disarmament was defined by the United Nations General Assembly as the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (WMD), coupled with the “balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments, based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties with a view to promoting or enhancing stability at a lower military level, taking into account the need of all States to protect their security”.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Disarmament. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Peace and security: disarmament and subject heading (keyword) Disarmament are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


Reference works


Leading articles


Periodicals, serial publications


Systematic classification → Peace and Security, Intervention, Use of Force

New titles

1. Nuclear disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation in retreat
Nuclear disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation in retreat : what Europe can do / Angela Kane, Ulrich Kühn In: S+F : Vierteljahreszeitschrift für Sicherheit und Frieden = ISSN 0175-274X: vol. 36, issue 1, page 40-44. - 2018
Keywords: European Union, Nuclear weapons, Proliferation, non-proliferation, Arms control, Disarmament,

2. Der Nukleare Nichtverbreitungsvertrag und der neue Kernwaffenverbotsvertrag
Der Nukleare Nichtverbreitungsvertrag und der neue Kernwaffenverbotsvertrag : harmonisch, kompatibel, unverträglich? / Dr. Harald Müller In: S+F : Vierteljahreszeitschrift für Sicherheit und Frieden = ISSN 0175-274X: vol. 36, issue 2, page 61-66. - 2018
Keywords: Nuclear weapons, Proliferation, non-proliferation, Arms control, Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (London, Moscow, Washington, D.C., 1 July 1968), Disarmament,

3. Revitalizing Diplomatic Efforts to Advance CTBT Entry into Force
Revitalizing Diplomatic Efforts to Advance CTBT Entry into Force / Daryl G. Kimball In: S+F : Vierteljahreszeitschrift für Sicherheit und Frieden = ISSN 0175-274X: vol. 36, issue 2, page 80-85. - 2018
Keywords: North Korea, Iran, Nuclear weapons, Proliferation, non-proliferation, Nuclear tests, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (New York, 10 September 1996), Disarmament,

4. Der Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty
Der Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty : ein Vertrag, der niemals kommt? / Annette Schaper In: S+F : Vierteljahreszeitschrift für Sicherheit und Frieden = ISSN 0175-274X: vol. 36, issue 2, page 86-91. - 2018
Keywords: Fissile materials, Proliferation, non-proliferation, Disarmament, Nuclear weapons,

Librarian's choice

  • Black-Branch, J.L. and D. Fleck, Nuclear Non-Proliferation in International Law, Vol. II. Verification and Compliance, The Hague, Asser Press, 2016.

    Black-Branch, J.L. and Fleck, D., Nuclear Non-Proliferation in International Law. Vol. II. Verification and Compliance, The Hague, Asser Press, 2016.

    The volume discusses the legal interpretation and implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1968, regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; the right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; and issues relating to nuclear disarmament. It examines the status of international law regarding nuclear capacity, considering competing legal approaches to the development of nuclear technology, non-proliferation, disarmament and regulating nuclear weapons within a contemporary international context. This second Volume in the book Series on Nuclear Non-Proliferation in International Law discusses the legal interpretation and implementation of verification and compliance with the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1968; the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, 1996; and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), 1957. It specifically examines the question, contested in recent academic writings, whether the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is competent to verify not only the correctness, but also the completeness of national declarations. Topical legal issues of verification and its technical and political limits as well as peaceful settlement of disputes and countermeasures are discussed in-depth.

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  • U.S. Nuclear Strategy

    30 January 2018, U.S. President Trump, during his State of the Union speech, called for a nuclear arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.”

    The President made clear that his first priority is to protect the United States, allies, and partners. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (2018 NPR) lays out important policy changes with regard to U.S. nuclear weapons. The renewal of its nuclear forces will have huge implications for the security of the country and its allies, its public finances and the salience of nuclear weapons in global politics. While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction.

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  • The Washington Naval Treaty: Averting the Allied Arms Race

    The 1916 US Naval Act and its 1918 proposed expansion triggered a Naval Arms Race between it and it’s allied nations of Great Britain and Japan.
    Finally, the United States Government invited the principal naval powers to a conference to discuss the situation and end the Naval Arms Race.
    A bold opening suggestion from the US government resulted in the scrapping and halting of most naval capital ships.
    The Washington Naval Treaty signed on the 6th of February 1922

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  • Nuclear Deal, Sanctions, Nuclear Diplomacy

    After nearly two years of arduous negotiations a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear program of Iran was signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015. In exchange for reducing Iran’s nuclear activities drastically, the United States and the European Union would lift their nuclear-related sanctions on the Iranian economy. Most countries and international organizations welcomed the agreement. Will U.S. President Obama be remembered as initiator of this ‘historic’ deal? The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a nuclear agreement signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.

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  • Arms Trade Treaty: A Historic Breakthrough?

    In Syria, a civil war is being fuelled by the transfer of conventional weapons from outside the country despite violations of humanitarian law and human rights abuses on both sides. The arms flows into conflicts, like Syria’s, have recently convinced states to adopt the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (hereinafter also ‘ATT’). A new international norm regulating the international trade in conventional arms that went into effect on Christmas Eve.

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  • Nuclear security: Dangers and Achievements

    Nuclear security is generally accepted to mean “the prevention of, detection of, and response to, criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving or directed at nuclear material, other radioactive material, associated facilities, or associated activities”. In short it is about preventing terrorists from acquiring radioactive material or attacking nuclear facilities. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, nuclear security concerns have been heightened, but how real is the danger and what are the legal instruments to combat nuclear terrorism?

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  • Nuclear Security Summit 2014: Preventing Nuclear Terrorism Around the Globe

    On 24 and 25 March 2014 the Third Nuclear Security Summit will take place here in The Hague. Nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to international peace and security. Even though the chance of a terrorist nuclear attack is small, the consequences would be enormous. The Nuclear Security Summit aims to enhance international cooperation in order to combat nuclear terrorist threats by preventing the illicit acquisition of nuclear material by non-state actors such as smugglers and terrorist groups.

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  • 3D Printed Weapons: A Threat to National and International Security?

    Chesspieces, automotive parts, chairs, geometrical objects, food, medical protheses, toys, paperweights and jewelry are a few of the examples of the items that can be made with a 3D printer. There are many types of 3D printers, ranging from a simple 3D printer for home use to a very big industrial type with which large objects can be created. The machines can use any substance in liquid or powder form.

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  • Colombia: At Last Peace with the FARC?

    Columbia’s fourth attempt at peace with the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) started formally last month in Oslo and will continue the 15th of November in Havana, Cuba. The earlier attempts- starting in 1984, 1990 and 1998- to end one of Latin America’s longest and bloodiest armed conflict all failed. Why would the outcome of the peace talks this time be different?

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  • Japan’s nuclear energy policy: energy security versus non-proliferation

    Nuclear power dependence Energy is the “life blood” of any economy, but for Japan, this truism has an added importance. Japan is poor in natural resources, specifically sources of energy, which are so vital to a healthy, modern economy: – Japan must import over 80% of all primary energy needs; – Japan obtains only 0.3% […]

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  • New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Enters Into Force

    On Saturday, 5 February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged the documents of ratification at the Munich Conference on Security Policy with which a new treaty on strategic arms reduction (New START [PDF]) entered into force.

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  • New Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

    On Wednesday, 24 March, both Russia and the United States indicated that after months of delay they are finally about to sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty in the Czech capital Prague early next month.

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  • North Korea Confirms Nuclear Test

    North Korea has conducted its second nuclear test, the country’s state news agency KCNA announced today. The nuclear test was expected. Earlier this year North Korea conducted a failed intercontinental missile test.

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  • New Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to be signed on December 3, 2008

    Cluster Bomb Tour Bus takes on Eastern Europe On Wednesday, 1st October an eight-week campaign trail through Europe was launched to convince all governments to sign a groundbreaking treaty banning cluster bombs, in Oslo on December 3, 2008. Beginning in Belgrade, Serbia and ending at the signing ceremony in Norway, the Ban Bus will rally […]

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Systematic classification → Peace and Security, Intervention, Use of Force