January 9, 2002
Treaty on Open Skies Enters into Force
Released on January 9, 2002
The Treaty on Open Skies, which will promote transparency and cooperation among its 26 parties, entered into force on January 1, 2002.
The original concept for the Treaty -- mutual and cooperative aerial observation -- was proposed by President Eisenhower in 1955, and the Treaty itself was an initiative of former President Bush in 1989. The Treaty was negotiated between the members of NATO and of the former Warsaw Pact, with the latter dissolving during the course of the talks. The Treaty was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on March 24, 1992, and elements have been applied provisionally since then. Most signatories ratified the Treaty soon after signature (the United States ratified in 1993), but two states whose ratification was required for entry into force – Belarus and Russia – did not do so until early last year, leading to its entry into force now.
Although the European security environment has changed significantly since the Treaty on Open Skies was negotiated and signed, the Treaty is still expected to be a useful element of the European security framework, which includes the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Vienna Document 1999 agreement on confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). The Treaty on Open Skies provides a means of further increasing transparency, mutual understanding, and cooperation, among its parties.
The following states have signed and ratified the Open Skies Treaty: Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (Kyrgyzstan has signed but not ratified.)