Non-Legally Binding Arrangements for Ballistic Missiles Control

Document Type : Original Article


Doctoral researcher in International Law, University of Tehran, Iran.


The issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is not only an alarming concern, but appears to be a growing threat to the international peace and security. Ballistic missiles as prominent means of delivery for such weapons have compelled international community to seek arrangements for the control or supervision over WMD delivery systems. Construction of heretofore arrangements at the international level have not been conducive to binding compliance; they have proved less than effective in preventing non-compliance. The binding nature of controlling arrangements for WMD could be either legal or political. The question is then how a non-legally binding arrangement would contribute to non-proliferation of ballistic missiles. In pursuit of an answer for this question, this article compares the Missile Technology Control Regime; the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives; the Proliferation Security Initiative; and the Hague Code of Conduct so as to provide a detailed assessment of the effectiveness of political commitments among States. This article argues that States have increasingly demonstrated resistance to legally binding arrangements. In contrast, they have been more receptive to politically binding arrangements and more prone to what can be dubbed as soft law. While the effectiveness of political commitments in the community of States is a dubious debate, there, nonetheless, seems to be no alternative to a modicum of liability for achieving some kind of consented arrangement among States.