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date: 23 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Arms control attempts to manage the acquisition and use of weapons in international politics, with the goal of preventing the outbreak of war and limiting war’s brutality. Yet experts debate whether arms control can meet these goals in practice. This chapter traces the modern development of arms control, covering its nineteenth-century foundations, the League of Nations, nuclear weapons in the Cold War, and recent “humanitarian” arms control initiatives. Yet the chapter also observes that new weapons and new actors challenge the foundations of existing regimes and raise questions about the form and functioning of future agreements. Even as arms control evolves, understanding it continues to depend on understanding the complex interplay between material and normative pressures states face in domestic and international politics. As concerns about weapons proliferation persist and the domains of conflict expand, arms control will remain a central issue on the international agenda.

Keywords: arms control, disarmament, nuclear weapons, conventional weapons, chemical weapons, new weapons, proliferation, regimes, norms, technology

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