Low Numbers and the Role of Verification

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Arms control treaties deal with sensitive issue of national security. States that come to an

agreement through a compromise balancing their interests want to make sure that the other

party is fulfilling its obligations and that fulfilling your own obligations does not put you at a

relative disadvantage. That is why arms control agreements are rarely self-executing. Even

though it is generally believed that states enter international treaties in good faith and are

expected to abide by their commitments, contracting parties usually verify that the obligations

are observed. A negotiated verification regime becomes an integral part of an arms control

agreement. In this context, verification can be described as the “process of gathering and

analysing information to make a judgement about parties' compliance or non-compliance with

an agreement.”2 In the absence of a verification regime, such treaties can become a mere

declaration of intent.


Nikita Perfilyev