Confidence and Security-Building Measures

Confidence and Security-Building Measures

Confidence building measures or confidence and security building measures are actions taken to reduce fear of attack by both (or more) parties in a situation of tension with or without physical conflict. The term is most often used in the context of international politics, but is similar in logic to that of trust and interpersonal communication used to reduce conflictual situations among human individuals.

Mathematically, this term assumes that a positive feedback model, where fear (and/or suspicion) of military attack or human rights violations is the positive feedback factor, is a valid model of the conflict. The actions which constitute confidence building measures provide a negative feedback to the conflict, which weakens, or possibly cancels or reverses the tension which would otherwise grow exponentially and eventually turn into a war.


  • 1 Information exchange and verification
  • 2 People to people contacts
  • 3 Validity of the model
  • 4 See also
  • 5 External links

Information exchange and verification

In international relations, the way that confidence-building measures are intended to reduce fear and suspicion (the positive feedbacks) is to make the different states' (or opposition groups') behaviour more predictable.

This typically involves exchanging information and making it possible to verify this information, especially information regarding armed forces and military equipment.

People to people contacts

Confidence building measures between nation-states have for many centuries also included the existence of and increased activities by embassies, which are state institutions geographically located inside the territory of other states, staffed by people expected to have extremely good interpersonal skills who can explain and resolve misunderstandings due to differences in language and culture which are incorrectly perceived as threatening, or encourage local knowledge of a foreign culture by funding artistic and cultural activities.

A much more grassroots form of confidence building occurs directly between ordinary people of different states. Short visits by individual children or groups of children to another state, and longer visits (6-12 months) by secondary and tertiary students to another state, have widely been used in the European Union as one of the methods of decreasing the tensions which had earlier led to many centuries of inter-European wars, culminating in the first and second world wars.

Validity of the model

If the feedback model assumed by the confidence building measure mechanism is correct, then the rapidly developing improvement in communication between ordinary people by the internet should provide extremely robust, fast methods of information exchange and verification, as well as improved people-to-people contacts and general building of trust networks, reducing the intensity and frequency of wars.

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