Department for the Promotion of Peace

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Confidence-Building Measures
With the end of the Cold War, Latin America saw the rise of new types of challenges, emerging from the effects of globalization and the decay of a world order based on West-East tension. The creation of a new hemispheric agenda became a necessary task in order to respond to new threats, tame old ones, and construct a culture of peace in the region. This agenda would be grounded in mechanisms that not only peaceably resolve conflicts, but prevent them before they happen: confidence-building measures (CBMs).

While CBMs come in a variety of forms, their central purpose remains the same: to reduce the risk of tension and armed conflict, simultaneously encouraging national, bilateral, and multilateral cooperation and transparency, especially in the defense and arms sectors. Such measures can include two countries sharing figures of defense spending to a regional dissemination of information on troop size, formation and movement. CBMs also include spreading peace-based knowledge, resources, and skills to academic and pedagogical institutions in the form of conferences, studies, and workshops.

Furthermore, confidence-building measures play an especially important role in border zones, where conflict and tension is more likely to erupt. Pacific prevention, through an adjacency zone, a meeting between two border-zone nation’s defense ministers, or a bi-national soccer game, can serve to reduce tension and halt the escalation of a potential conflict.

Importantly, CBMs need to take into account geographic, political, social, cultural, and economic conditions in order to be successfully constructed and implemented. They also must respect the sovereignty of a nation, take into account historical trends, and be systematized and institutionalized.

Some examples of bilateral success include the nuclear cooperation between Argentina and Brazil and defense spending awareness between Argentina and Chile.

Multilateral success in the form of commitments and treaties can be found in the OAS’ 1995 Declaration of Santiago and 1998 Declaration of San Salvador. In both ground-breaking accords, Member States committed themselves to promoting a culture of peace by agreeing to a wide gamut of CBMs, from previous notification of military exercises to peace-based border zone activities. Subsequently, in the Declaration of Miami of 2003, member countries agreed on military and general measures, which include a program of notification to joint military exercises, participation in arms monitoring and disposal, the exchange of various types of military-related information, the establishment of confidence-building measures in border zones, and the intensification of cooperation within the OAS framework to combat terrorism, drug trafficking, arms distribution, and piracy.

With crucial advances in regional integration and peace based mechanisms like CBMs, the Americas are progressing to times characterized by a lack of conflict and controversy and where regional peace has become the norm.
Declaration of Santiago (1995) Declaration of San Salvador (1998)
  • Previous notification of military exercise
  • Participation in the UN’s Registry of Conventional Arms
  • Interchange on defense policies and doctrine
  • Military interchange (visits to facilities)
  • Educational Programs for Peace
  • Military and Civilian interchange
  • Stimulation of contacts and cooperation among legislators on confidence-building measures and peace-related topics
  • Extension to diplomatic, military, seminary, university, and other schools of courses and studies on confidence-building measures, security and disarmament
  • Promotion of peace-based border-zone activities
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