2023 Annual Disarmament Report

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, 27 February 2023

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, 27 February 2023, © Kira Hofmann

17.04.2024 - Article

The German Government continued to promote arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation under difficult conditions in 2023. An overview of the priorities and challenges that this involves can be found here.

The 2023 Annual Disarmament Report highlights the most important agreements and provisions, key developments and the priorities of Germany’s arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation policy in the past year. While it is clear that the circumstances remain unfavourable, we can continue to make an important contribution to peace and security. Together with its partners, the German Government will therefore continue to engage in its wide-ranging efforts in this area.

Deteriorating security situation

The European and global security architecture continued to be severely impacted in 2023 by Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia continues to violate key principles of the European and international security and disarmament architecture. It has withdrawn from or suspended its participation in numerous international treaties, including the New START Treaty with the US, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). These are further severe setbacks for disarmament efforts. Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia also jeopardises nuclear safety and security not only in Ukraine.

China is also continuing to expand its arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons and rejects any transparency and arms control measures. In addition, the worsening proliferation crises in North Korea and Iran are posing a threat to regional and global security.

Continued engagement under difficult conditions

Under these difficult conditions, the German Government continued to assume international responsibility for arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation in 2023. To this end, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock outlined the following approaches at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament in 2023:

  • Disarmament and arms control complement deterrence and defence as both support the same objective, namely increasing security for Europe. This guiding principle was enshrined in NATO’s Strategic Concept back in 2022 and is also underscored in the German Government’s National Security Strategy.
  • All efforts to promote arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation must take into account the fact that Russia has fundamentally violated international law and that trust in the country has been forfeited on a historic scale. It is therefore particularly urgent to take steps to minimise risks and to avoid any unintended escalation.

Nuclear non-proliferation – a secure world free of nuclear weapons

The German Government remains committed to maintaining and strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation architecture. This also includes seeking, against all the odds, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to halt the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programme, which violates international law. The long-term objective remains a world free of nuclear weapons. Russia’s war of aggression must likewise not lead to the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons being watered down, either in Europe or in other regions.

New technologies and humanitarian arms control

The rapid pace of technological development also calls for joint answers to the question as to how regulations on the use of new technologies can lead to greater security. This includes work on behaviour-based approaches to arms control in space and on universal agreements to be developed regarding the military use of weapons systems with autonomous functions. The German Government will continue its joint efforts with its partners to safeguard security in cyberspace.

Last but not least, Germany is committed to promoting humanitarian arms control at the international level, including curbing the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms, banning certain weapons systems that do not comply with international humanitarian law, and creating binding minimum standards for handling ammunition.


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