The Joint Consultative Group (JCG) was established by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which was signed in Paris on November 19, 1990, by the member states of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union (with the eight states with territory in the CFE zone succeeding the USSR), the unification of Germany, and the separation between the Czech and Slovak Republics, the number of CFE States Parties increased from 23 to 30. The United States ratified the Treaty in December 1991, and it entered into force on November 9, 1992; however, the Treaty had been provisionally applied since July 17, 1992. The JCG began meeting on a provisional basis in November 1990.
The principal purpose of the JCG is to promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of the CFE Treaty, according to Article XVI and the Protocol on the JCG. Within the framework of the JCG, States Parties shall:
Moreover, the JCG may propose amendments to this Treaty and agree on improvements to its viability and effectiveness.
Furthermore, each State Party has the right to raise before the JCG, and have placed on its agenda, any issue relating to this Treaty.
The JCG is composed of representatives from all 30 CFE States Parties, namely, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States. Most CFE member states are regularly represented in sessions of the JCG. The Chairmanship rotates among the members for every session.
Procedures and Operations:
The JCG takes decisions or makes recommendations by consensus, meaning the absence of any objection by representatives of any State Party The Treaty calls for regular sessions twice a year in Vienna, each session lasting four weeks, unless otherwise agreed. Proceedings are confidential, unless the JCG decides otherwise; statements by the Chairman and by delegations made in plenary, as well as final agreements, are unclassified. The JCG has been in virtually continuous session ever since late 1990.
During its first three years of operation, the JCG has been instrumental in negotiating a number of agreements, some of which were subsequently adopted at international conferences.
A major initial focus of the JCG was on a dispute between the former Soviet Union and other CFE signatories regarding the interpretation of Art. HI of the Treaty, dealing with counting rules and the status of treaty-limited equipment (TLE) in Soviet naval infantry and coastal defense forces. The dispute was resolved through a legally binding agreement.
At the same time, the JCG reached a politically binding agreement on steps to account for TLE redeployed by the former Soviet Union from the area of Treaty application (Atlantic to the Urals region/ATTU) to regions East of the Urals.
These two agreements were formalized at the Extraordinary Conference held in Vienna on June 14, 1991.
Summary and Outlook:
The JCG has played a pivotal role in the implementation of the CFE inspection and reduction regimes, including development of standard inspection formats, notification forms, and new, streamlined modalities for equipment destruction, to facilitate Treaty implementation. In this connection, the JCG has also dealt with development of common Treaty interpretations and standardized procedures, as well as the issue of ensuring full access to all permitted areas during on-site inspections conducted under the Treaty, calculation of passive inspection quotas, and timelines for notification of reduction events. Moreover, mindful of the costs involved in the process of reducing TLE on the one hand, and the limited financial and technical resources available to many States Parties on the other, the JCG has adopted additional reduction methods and conversion procedures permitted by the Treaty. Adoption of these new methods and procedures for tanks ad armored combat vehicles assists all States Parties in fulfilling their reduction obligations within the required time frames. Finally, the JCG has been instrumental in facilitating the annual exchange of information among the States Parties to the CFE Treaty. The JCG will continue to play a vital role in the implementation of the CFE Treaty regime as the principal verification and compliance mechanism.