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Vienna Document 1999
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Contact: Jeff AbramsonNon-Resident Senior Fellow for Arms Control and Conventional Arms Transfers, [email protected]

Updated: August 2010

The Vienna Document is a confidence- and security- building measure in which members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agree to inspections and data exchanges in order to increase transparency of their conventional forces. With Russia’s suspension of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty) in 2007 and subsequent loss of transparency around conventional forces, the politically binding procedures and related reports associated with the document have become more important.

Background: The Vienna Document encompasses the goals of the Helsinki Final Act Decalogue of 1975 and incorporates them into a politically binding document. The Helsinki Final Act principles created the initial confidence- and security- building measures that would be elaborated upon, first in the Stockholm Document (1986) and later in the first Vienna Document. The first document, Vienna Document 1990, would have successors in Vienna Documents 1992, 1994, and 1999. All of the Vienna Documents have sought to strengthen the transparency and openness in the OSCE area.

Helsinki Final Act Decalogue[1]

1     Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty

2     Refraining from the threat or use of force

3     Inviolability of frontiers

4     Territorial integrity of States

5     Peaceful settlement of disputes

6     Non-intervention in internal affairs

7     Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief

8     Equal rights and self-determination of peoples

9     Co-operation among States

10   Fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law

 

 

Document Status: Vienna Document implementation is discussed weekly at the Forum for Security Co-operation (an OSCE body) and at annual meetings in Vienna.  Signatories to the document are the fifty-five member states of the OSCE. [2]

During the most recent Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting (AIAM), held March 2-3, 2010, the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre reported that the Vienna Document’s “overall implementation level has remained relatively stable and high." [3] Per the Meeting’s Consolidated Summary, although the number of inspections and evaluations fell in 2009 from their 2008 levels, the number was still above the five-year average. There is some speculation that the economic conditions facing Vienna Document countries could play a part in the lower numbers.

The 2010 State Department report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, which considered treaty and agreement compliance from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2008, found that “compliance with VD99 has been good.” [4] The report acknowledged that some states did not submit their information for the December meeting but that “most” of the States eventually submitted the required paperwork.

In regards to the sharing of information under the Vienna Document, there was conversation at the March 2010 AIAM that changes may need to be made to the document because of new technology, capabilities, and military structures that have not been accounted for.

Information Exchange: Under the Vienna Document, countries agree to an Annual Exchange of Military Information where information regarding “military forces concerning the military organization, manpower and major weapon and equipment systems” will be shared with other member states. [5] A country that plans to change the structure of their military forces for a period longer than 21 days (such as increasing the size of a combat unit) reports the change to other states. States also share information about their weapon systems and if there are plans to deploy new systems (if so, countries share information about these systems). Under Article II, countries are also expected to provide information regarding their defense planning.  Under a general considerations report, a state provides information regarding their military structure (including specific unit and formation information), major weapons and equipment systems, and their hardware. The specific equipment that is covered by the Vienna Document can be found in Article I.

Year

Number of Submitted Reports (General Considerations)[6]

2009

Not Available

2008

55

2007

54

2006

51

2005

53

 

Year

Number of Submitted Reports (Defense Planning)

2009

47

2008

41

2007

47

2006

40

2005

45

The Vienna Document also says that states should inform other states if “certain military activities” will take place, which means a military activity will be subject to notification whenever it involves at any time during the activity:

  • at least 9,000 troops, including support troops, or
  • at least 250 battle tanks, or
  • at least 500 armored combat vehicles, as defined in Annex III, paragraph (2), or
  • at least 250 self-propelled and towed artillery pieces, mortars and multiple rocket-launchers (100 mm calibre and above). [7]

States also can invite other member states to militarily significant actions for observation purposes. [8] There are some constraints on states, including limits on the number of exercises that can be carried out within a specific timeframe under certain conditions. [9]

If a Vienna Document state has concerns about a militarily significant action, they can request an explanation of the action from the party responsible. If there are concerns after an explanation is offered, the concerned state can request a meeting with the acting party.  Participation in the meeting will be open to any states interested in the action. Either party can also request a meeting of all states, which would be conducted as a joint Permanent Council and Forum for Security Cooperation meeting, where recommendations from states will be considered.

Process: The Vienna Document 1999 encourages countries to host visits to military facilities, create military contacts, and hold joint exercises and demonstrations of military equipment as ways of increasing confidence between states. [10] By November 15, states are expected to submit a schedule of prior notification military activities for the next year.  According to the Consolidated Summary of the 19th Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting , held March 3-4, 2009, “a total of 109 inspection visits in 2008 had resulted in more than 1,000 arms control personnel having the opportunity to meet their counterparts and improve their relations.” [11]

Year

Number of Evaluation Visits [12]

2009

46

2008

41

2007

55

 

Year

Number of Countries Hosting Evaluation Visits

2009

Not Available

2008

44

2007

33

 

Year

Number of Inspection Visits

2009

96

2008

109

2007

88

Under the Document, states can host three inspections on their territory per year and do not have to exceed that limit if they do not wish.  Inspection teams observe notable military activities.  In addition to inspection visits, there are also evaluation visits, which verify data that is part of the information exchange.  A state must host at least one and no more than 15 evaluation visits a year (number of visits is determined by number of units). [13]

Article XI calls for an Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting where states will have the opportunity to discuss questions of implementation, operations, and questions that may have arisen from information that has been exchanged.  The meeting, hosted by the Forum for Security Cooperation, is also an opportunity to discuss confidence- and security- building measures.  If a state has not offered their data at the Annual Exchange of Military Information, held no later than December 15, they are expected to offer an explanation as to why it has not been submitted and an expected date for contribution.

Amendments to Vienna Document 1999: A May 19, 2010 decision by the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC.DEC/1/10) created a procedure for continuous updating of the Vienna Document, under which decisions that update document text will be called Vienna Document Plus. [14] Every five years the Vienna Document will be reissued with the changes from “Plus” incorporated.  This will not delay the entry into force of changes, which will be effective immediately, unless expressly stated otherwise.  Decisions in Vienna Document Plus will supersede those of Vienna Document 1999 as they are the most recent.

-Researched and prepared by Valerie Pacer


[1] For a more detailed description of the Decalogue, see European Navigator’s explanation http://www.ena.lu/helsinki_decalogue_august_1975-2-19193

[2] OSCE member states are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan

[3] Consolidated Summary of the 2010 Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting (AIAM)

[4] See “Vienna Document 1999 on the Negotiations on Confidence- and Security- Building Measures (page 36) ”http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/july2010compliancereport072710.pdf

[5] See Article I “Annual Exchange of Military Information” for specific information that is exchanged: http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/1999/11/4265_en.pdf

[6] Numbers of Submissions can be found in the 2009 AIAM Consolidated Summary http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2009/03/37422_en.pdf, 2010 AIAM Consolidated Summary and at http://dtirp.dtra.mil/TIC/synopses/gemi.cfm

[7] Vienna Document 1999, Article V

[8] See Article VI “Observation of Certain Military Activities” for an explanation of observation procedures.

[9] See Article VIII “Constraining Provisions” for thresholds and limits of activities.

[10] See Articles III “Risk Reduction” and IV “Contacts” of VD99 for recommendations.

[11] Consolidated Summary of the 19th Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting 2009 http://www.osce.org/documents/html/pdftohtml/37422_en.pdf.html , pg. 49

[12] Numbers of evaluation and inspections can be found in the AIAM Consolidated Summary 2009 http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2009/03/37422_en.pdf and AIAM Consolidated Summary 2010.

[13] See Article IX “Compliance and Verification” for an explanation of measures, including inspections and evaluations.

[14] “Decision No.1/10 Establishing a Procedure for Incorporating Relevant FSC Decisions Into the Vienna Document” (FSC.DEC/1/10) http://www.osce.org/documents/fsc/2010/05/44706_en.pdf

Posted: August 24, 2010