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The aim of conventional arms control is to reduce the risk of conflict by creating dialogue and transparency and deepening military cooperation to build confidence and predictability for all Participating States.
This is based, on the one hand, on legally binding agreements (Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe – CFE, Treaty on Open Skies – OS), which however have been damaged through the suspension of the CFE by Russia and through withdrawal from OS by the US and Russia. On the other hand, the politically binding Vienna Document on Strengthening Security and Confidence in the OSCE Area provides the basis for confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs), which contribute to conflict prevention and ensuring peace in the OSCE area within the framework of a cooperative approach to security. Attempts to modernise this document have repeatedly been blocked in recent years by some Participating States, namely the Russian Federation.
In addition, common security is also implemented through further agreements reached by consensus, including on the democratic supervision of armed forces, on the annual exchange of military information, and on small arms and light weapons, especially with a view to international terrorism and illicit trafficking.
At the initiative of the 2016 German OSCE Chairpersonship, a new informal platform for exchange was also created: the Structured Dialogue, in which participating States have discussed new cooperative approaches to arms control and current challenges to European security.
Conventional arms control and confidence-building measures require the political will of all OSCE Participating States. Due to increasingly deficient and selective implementation of the agreements by some Participating States, especially the Russian Federation, this peacekeeping system has increasingly eroded in recent years. The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine since 24 February 2022, has shaken the European security architecture to is core. It is proof that without the political will of all OSCE Participating States, the basis for transparency and confidence is lost.
Apart from military aspects, the first dimension also covers civilian aspects of security, including protection against risks and threats such as terrorism, transnational organized crime, violation of national borders, and gender-based violence. Security sector reform (armed forces, police, judiciary) also plays an important role. A particular emphasis lies on the idea of prevention and strengthening of the OSCE participating States' own capacities. To this end, it is important that young people are increasingly involved in formulating joint responses to the various security challenges.