Document Type

Honors Project


The 2013 Noble Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the same year that events in the Syrian Civil War made clear the difficulties of implementing global disarmament and the imperative for doing so. In relation to this situation, my thesis asks if arms control and disarmament reduce conflict and tensions between states. Attempts at chemical weapons disarmament have been relatively successful but global disarmament faces major obstacles that will be difficult to overcome. To be sure, arms control and disarmament can be beneficial to peace: they are not a cause of war, can lessen the devastation of war, and even the potential for war to occur. If certain weapons are removed from the world, or even tightly controlled, then lives will be saved. But the benefits are limited, and even successful arms control is only minimally effective on its own. Removing chemical weapons eliminates one potential point of contention. However, nuclear arms control coupled with deterrence seems to be partially successful in preventing conflict. This combination minimizes warfare between nuclear powers, decreases tensions, and lessens lower-level conflict. In the end, arms control can only prevent war in conjunction alongside political and other military factors and, still, is far from a guarantor of peace.



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