IRRC No. 267

International Humanitarian Law and Arms Control

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For almost two decades, the International Red Cross Movement has been engaged in a continuing process of self-examination regarding its contribution to peace and disarmament. At the same time, public attention is being focused on, and sometimes even captivated by, various bilateral and multilateral efforts to achieve progress in nuclear and non-nuclear arms control in fields such as the reduction of strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons, nuclear and chemical weapon-free zones, confidence- and security-building measures, and so on. The two lines of action are usually dealt with individually without proper consideration of the manifold interconnections existing between them. Only recently have efforts been made to clarify the relationship between the two. The purpose of this article is to bring them together and to do so by asking the question: To what extent can the effort to promote and implement international humanitarian law be seen as a contribution in terms of arms control?

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