Skip to main content

Democratic Control of Armed Forces




This paper consists of two parts. The first deals with parliamentary control andpractice in general and moves on to the changing European security environment. The second part of the paper analyses the major international organisations dealingwith European security and their parliamentary dimension.

1. The goals of modern security policy have become much wider than the traditionaltasks of protecting independence and territorial integrity and increasingly focus onmultilateral action in support of crisis management, the promotion of stability andmost recently combating terrorism. Parliamentary scrutiny has to adapt to thesechanging circumstances in several ways. Security policy should be comprehensiveand integrated in a coherent foreign policy. Despatching soldiers on missions ofintervention abroad, including the separation of hostile forces in ethnic or religiousconflicts, puts heavier political and moral burdens on parliamentarians than thepatriotic task of defence of the homeland against aggression. Nevertheless, evenunder changing circumstances some general guidelines can be drawn forparliamentary control over the defence budget and equipment decisions.

2. The thesis of the second part is that the multilateral work of parliamentarians in consensus-building plays an important role even if in most cases control as such remains with national parliaments. Each of these organisations has a role to play, although some streamlining might be welcome. The European Parliament has real powers in the budget process and co-decision on many legislative matters on which the Council of Ministers decides by qualified majority. The other organisations normally take decisions by consensus at governmental level, but take majority votes on reports and resolutions in their parliamentary bodies. Two of them - the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - have a particular role in setting norms and standards for the respect of human rights and the conduct of relations among states.


1. Introduction

2. The National Parliamentary Dimension
2.1. Parliamentary Control
2.2. Parliamentary Practice in the Field of Security Policy
2.3. The Changing Environment of Security
2.4. The Goals of Modern Security Policy
2.5. Democratic Control of Security Policy
2.6. How Much is Enough?
2.7. Secrecy
2.8. Parliamentary Defence Committees
2.9. Parliamentary Control Over the Budget
2.10. Parliamentary Control Over Equipment Decisions
2.11. Terrorism
2.12. Conclusion

3. The International Parliamentary Dimension
3.1. International Organisations and their Parliamentary Dimension
3.2. The Council of Europe
3.3. The European Coal and Steel Community
3.4. Eden Plan
3.5. WEU
3.6.1. NATO
3.6.2. Drawing in Eastern Europe
3.6.3. Criteria for Democratic Oversight
3.6.4. Towards a Membership Action Plan
3.6.5. The Washington Summit
3.6.6. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly
3.7.1. European Political Cooperation
3.7.2. Stuttgart Declaration
3.7.3. Revitalisation of WEU
3.8.1. OSCE
3.8.2. Code of Conduct
3.8.3. The Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE
3.9.1. The European Union and the European Parliament
3.9.2. Which Way Ahead?
3.9.3. Options for Parliamentary Oversight of the Second Pillar of the EU

4. Final Remarks