Disarmament and Arms Control in the History of International Politics: From the Nineteenth Century to the Present focuses on two types of measures in the field（s）of disarmament and arms control : arms transfer control and armament reduction and/or limitation. This introductory chapter aims to unravel the history of the interplay between these measures and situate them within the wider context of disarmament and arms control.
It is often assumed that arms transfer control is somewhat consonant with the general reduction and/or limitation of armaments, or that the former contributes to the latter. This chapter first considers the objectives claimed（or presumably claimed）throughout history by groups attempting to control arms transfers either unilaterally or multilaterally. The analysis classifies these aims into three types: security, economic concerns and ‘ethical’ considerations, and it reveals the ambiguous and often incongruent relationship between each type of arms transfer control objective and the general reduction and/or limitation of armaments.
The chapter then sketches chronologically the main developments in the field（s）of disarmament and arms control, as well as in the closely related field（s）of the laws of war and international humanitarian law. Beginning with the latter half of the nineteenth century, when arms transfer control and the laws of war were negotiated separately under entirely different frameworks, this chapter examines the following : 1）how ideas of disarmament and arms control emerged ; 2）how the fields of disarmament and arms control and international humanitarian law have gradually merged since the inter-war period ; 3）why shifts in focus in the field（s）of disarmament and arms control occurred in each period ; 4）and why the perceived relationships among a wide range of measures have changed up to the present.
The chapter also introduces the definitions of key terms and presents an overview of subsequent chapters, which stretch in focus from the nineteenth century to the present. The chapters are arranged in chronological order throughout the book.
The Brussels Conference Act was the first multilateral agreement for regulating the African firearms trade. However, Lord Salisbury, British prime minister, opposed the measures because he thought they would not be able to stop the trade, reasoning that prohibition on one coast of the African continent would only result in the diversion of the trade to some other part of the coast. This chapter analyses why Salisbury introduced the regulation in the Brussels Conference and to what extent the regulation was effective in regulating the African firearms trade.
Firearms began to spread into Africa when the British entered the Atlantic slave trade in 1672. Because of the strong preference among African slave traders for firearms, a large quantity of flintlock muskets were sent to West Africa. After the British abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the slave and firearms trade moved to South and East Africa. The breech-loader revolution of the 1850s-80s, which was carried out by arms manufacturers, pushed European armies to adopt this new weaponry. After the 1870s, some of breech-loading rifles（such as Snider-Enfield rifles）were outmoded, and armies were encouraged to dispose of them in South and East Africa.
The Aborigines’ Protection Society（APS）opposed the slave and firearms trade in Africa and began to campaign for its regulation through evangelical and humanitarian networks. For example, F. W. Fox, a member of the APS, lobbied in Brussels. A public meeting was held at the Birmingham Council House on 10th January 1890 at the instigation of the Reverend Arthur O’Neill（Baptist minister）and an article published by Mrs. Henry Grattan Guinness（faith mission evangelist）in the evangelical newspaper Christian requested that petitions for African firearms regulation be forwarded to the conference.
Fearing that the efforts of APS would overshadow the legitimate objective of the conference（i. e., the abolition of the slave trade）, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society began to interfere with APS campaigns. However, the APS succeeded in holding the Mansion House meeting on 29th January 1890, which had a strong impact on Salisbury. Although Salisbury did not sympathise with the APS’s evangelical humanitarianism due to his gentlemanly ideal of High Churchmanship, he preferred not to irritate evangelical public opinion and was greatly influenced by Sir Robert Nicholas Fowler’s attendance at the Mansion House meeting. Fowler was chairman of the City Conservative Association, and the City of London was a great supporter of the Conservative Party after 1886.
Therefore, Salisbury supported the Brussels Act, which came into force in 1890. However, it served only to alter the direction and distribution of the firearms trade. As Salisbury had imagined, the firearms trade moved from Zanzibar to Muscat and Djibouti, and Germany and France did not abide by the firearms regulation.
This chapter argues that military security and international instability were closely connected in the era of the two world wars because the experience of industrial-age ‘total war’ from 1914 to 1918 had expanded the definitions of ‘armament’ and ‘security’ to encompass entire economies and societies. This new expansive meaning of ‘armament’ equated military and economic ‘security’ with self-sufficiency in food and industrial raw materials. By this security standard, the only undisputed ‘great powers’ were the United States and Soviet Union; the ritish empire, and to a lesser extent, the French empire, also fell into this category owing to the great reserves of manpower and secure resources of their overseas colonies. Germany, Italy and the Japanese empire, fell well short of this standard owing to their dependence on imported raw materials, and in the cases of Italy and Japan, their vulnerability to blockade. This post-1919 divide between ‘have’ and ‘have not’ powers roughly aligned with the division between those great powers with an interest in upholding the post-war status quo and those states that would challenge the global order in the 1930s. As this chapter shows, the expansive nature of national security had profound de-stabilising implications for international politics, particularly in the wake of the Great Depression. The legacy of the First World War doomed efforts to control armaments and to organize collective security under the League of Nations. The First World War and the Great Depression did not make the Second World War inevitable, but they did ensure that the 1930s would witness a vast and rapid expansion in global armaments and a frenzy of preparations for great wars. By 1940, international politics was shaped by an accelerating arms race that had erased the dividing line between peace and war. The status quo powers were faced with the dilemma of how to build a ‘war economy’ in peacetime without succumbing to totalitarianism ; and the revisionist states in turn faced the choice between war or losing the arms race. Each chose war. The idea that big nations had to control sufficient material resources within their frontiers to ensure national economic well-being, sovereignty and security, and that if war came that economic resources and the population had to be organised a certain way to ensure victory in wars of all-out mobilisation may seem in retrospect very alien, but these ideas are central to understanding the international politics of the 1930s.
This chapter focuses on the preliminary negotiations of the second London Naval Conference held in 1934 from the Japanese, American, and British points of view. International crises in the early 1930s, such as the Manchurian incident of 1931 and the rise of Nazi Germany, strongly influenced UK and US naval policy. The British Royal Navy in particular faced strategic challenges by Germany and Italy in Europe and Japan in the Far East. Serious financial constraints prevented the navy from countering both threats, so the British government decided to prioritize defence in Europe over the Far East and to appease Japan at the conference. However, it was expected that this appeasement policy would not be accepted by the US government, which wanted to deter Japanese expansion in the Far East. The British government also faced a diplomatic difficulty in handling a rivalry between the US and Japan.
Soon after the Roosevelt administration came to power in 1933, the new US government decided to expand its naval command to the upper limit of the Washington and London naval treaties in order to counteract Japanese expansion policy. This decision gave the Japanese navy an excuse to expand, and Japan decided to secede from the Washington and London naval treaties. In October 1933, the commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy（IJN）, Shingo Ishikawa, drafted a secret plan, “Personal policy to the next naval conference”, which suggested denouncing the Washington Naval Treaty if the UK and US did not accept Japan’s demand. The Kantai-ha（Hawks）of IJN, who were frustrated by the treaty, formally approved Ishikawa’s plan.
During the preliminary negotiations of the second London Naval Conference, the British government tried to be an intermediary between the US and Japan, but the Japanese delegation was uncompromising in its demand for naval parity among the UK, US, and Japan. The UK and US delegations, who estimated that a naval ratio of 5 : 5 : 3 should be beneficial for Japan, rejected the parity plan. The British government tried to keep Japan at the negotiating table, but the Japanese government denounced the Washington Naval Treaty on December 29, 1934, indicating the failure of the preliminary negotiations of the Second London Naval Conference.
Although the Geneva Disarmament Conference（1932-34）was the largest international conference of its time since the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, it received little attention or study for a long time. However, in the 1990s, Dick Richardson and Carolyn Kitching ignited new interest in the conference, and since then, there have been many studies about it. According to the new orthodoxy put forth by Richardson and Kitching about the conference, the British government’s negative stance to international disarmament was greatly responsible for the conference’s failure. At the same time, those studies tend to overlook the role of the second Labour government（June 1929 to August 1931）, which took charge of preparing for the Disarmament Conference. This article aims to elucidate the disarmament policy of the Labour government.
Unlike the preceding Conservative government（November 1924 to June 1929）and the National government（August 1931 to June 1935） that followed, the Labour government was sincere in its pursuit of international disarmament. Their disarmament policy was controlled by a strong alliance between Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson and a Conservative politician, Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, the British representative to the League of Nations. The government’s strategy for the conference was that Britain would take the initiative in achieving a consensus on the budgetary limitation of armament. This strategy came close to success because the United States, which had been the strongest opponent of the budgetary limitation, leant to accepting it under the heavy pressure of the public opinion. The Foreign Office also considered conceding to the French demand for security against Germany in order to reach an agreement at the conference. However, after the Labour government collapsed in August 1931, British disarmament policy drastically changed. Under the National government, the service departments successfully vetoed the Foreign Office’s disarmament policy. Had the National government adopted the policy of the former Labour government, the Geneva Disarmament Conference might have succeeded.
The Interwar period marked the high point of international efforts to control what later came to be called the “military-industrial complex,” including the arms trade. Post-1918 peace architects, building on early elaboration of disarmament proposals in the late 19th century, advanced proposals to regulate the arms trade, ban particular weapons, prohibit the private manufacture of arms, reduce or eliminate national arsenals, reduce military spending, and construct a collective security system.
Almost all of these efforts at arms control and disarmament failed, either in the narrow sense that agreement among states was impossible, or in the larger sense that the agreements that were reached failed to achieve their aim of reducing the risk of war or its costly consequences should it break out. This article focuses on four different understandings of the reasons for the failure of interwar disarmament efforts, and focuses on the regulation of armaments and the arms trade:
1. The political economy of production and trade, in which the norm of free trade and the dependence of major producers on exports to support their industries, hindered their willingness to agree to export restrictions ;
2. The geopolitics of great power competition and rivalry, including attempts to create an interwar alliance structure to contain Germany, the lack of participation of major powers in multilateral efforts, and imperial competition ;
3. The limitations of global multilateral forums for negotiating comprehensive and universal treaties among unequal parties ;
4. Conceptual disagreements concerning the relationship between disarmament and security, and on the causes of arming and rearming.
These explanations are not mutually exclusive. Overall, failure to achieve far-reaching regulation can be ascribed to two main factors, both of which reflect broader currents of thought on multilateral diplomacy. First, the early 20th century marked the dawn of multilateral institutionalization and regulation. Despite this, the proposals of early arms control and disarmament campaigners were detailed and foresighted─including proposals for transparency in the arms trade, multilateral restrictions on transfers to zones of conflict, common standards for export certification, and other such measures. What is also striking, however, is their naiveté, which included a belief that the private manufacture of arms was a cause and not a symptom of conflict, the assumption that economic considerations were relatively insignificant, and the relative ignorance of the enormous challenges of gaining universal adherence to treaties（not to mention compliance and implementation）. All these lessons were learned, albeit slowly, over the course of the 20th century.
One remarkable yet often overlooked example of international arms transfer was the distribution of foreign surplus arms following the Second World War. With the end of the war and the termination of the Lend-Lease programme, the disposal of foreign war surplus, including large-scale arms, emerged as an element of U. S. military assistance to foreign countries. However, it was not the most effective resource for the military authority. The aim of this chapter is to identify an overall picture of disposal operations and policies for overseas war surplus from 1945 to 1949 using historical records located in the U. S. National Archives, under the Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner （OFLC）.
We show first that the OFLC disposed of some surplus arms to foreign governments in spite of the fact that it was the policy of the U. S. government not to sell combat material that was still militarised. These arms disposal initiatives were therefore made on the basis of political and security considerations without proper legal process. Second, we make clear the types and sizes of arms transferred from domestic and overseas war surplus to foreign countries. In 1946, the procedure for processing authorisation for arms sales from foreign war surplus was formally adopted, making the OFLC responsible for the arrangements governing the transfers. At the direction of the U. S. president and in accordance with procedures established by the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, an interim allocation programme transferring surplus military equipment to certain American republics was developed under the Western Hemisphere Military programme. Shortly after the establishment of the interim allocation programme, surplus military equipment transfers were made to Canada, China and Iran. In 1949, the Naval Charter Party Vessels project was established under lease agreements with France, Norway and Latin American states. This surplus military equipment was sold at a very low price, a small percentage of its market value, effectively making it a form of military assistance to these countries.
The 1990s onwards has seen a proliferation of initiatives aimed at developing regional and/or international instruments for conventional arms control. From transfer control and marking mechanisms to security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, myriad measures have flourished to address the uncontrolled circulation and misuse of conventional arms. Among them were efforts to agree to a legally binding document establishing common criteria for assessing arms transfer licences. After a series of negotiations, the efforts culminated on 2 April 2013, with the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty（ATT）at the United Nations General Assembly.
This chapter first seeks to place post-Cold War arms transfer control initiatives in their long-term historical context. It gives an overview of the international policy debates on arms transfer control from the late nineteenth century to the Cold War period. The analysis then describes the background against which post-Cold War initiatives to regulate arms transfers emerged, and it introduces the international agreements adopted from the 1990s onwards. The details of the negotiation process of the ATT are revealed, and the main articles of the adopted ATT are explained.
The chapter then points out four interconnected elements common to the arms transfer control instruments that were adopted and implemented from the late nineteenth century to the Cold War period: 1） The participating states shared a common perception of military and political interests ; 2）The scope of the actors whose acquisition of arms should be prevented was relatively well-defined ; 3）The participating states’ acquisition of arms would not be negatively affected by the agreement ; and 4）No other serious discriminatory measures against participating states were included in the agreement. It finally argues that post-Cold War arms control agreements, including the ATT, were adopted despite the lack of some or all of these elements and explains how such a lack may have affected their success─or have even created difficulties in defining success.
This concluding chapter reasserts the book’s main themes and highlights a few key issues and challenges which need to be addressed through further research. As part of the overall project of the Meiji University Research Institute for the History of Global Arms Transfer, this book aims, among other objectives, to identify challenges and propose a way forward. This chapter discusses three main challenges : 1）the re-examination of the arms control measures which the founding historians of the institute have so far considered to be ‘failures’ ; 2） a revision of the way in which the normative aspects of arms transfer control are evaluated ; and 3）a serious exploration of ways to achieve one of the institute’s main objectives─interdisciplinary research on disarmament and arms control among historians, political scientists and practitioners.
When the institute was founded by historians in 2015, the founding historians of the institute claimed that all modern disarmament and arms control efforts had collapsed. They also asserted that the institute would reveal the underlying structure of the modern world which had caused the collapse of all disarmament and arms control efforts, and that it would examine how the virtue of arms transfer control had been degraded and eroded by those who viciously justified arms transfers. This chapter challenges these propositions by referring to the cases studied in the previous chapters, and it proposes the need to radically reconsider these propositions. The chapter also argues that the proclaimed aim of interdisciplinary research cannot be achieved automatically by placing the writings of historians, political scientists and practitioners together in chronological order. It recommends a thorough examination of ways to bridge the gap between disciplines.