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Vienna Document of 2011 (VDOC11)

Overview   Potential Facility Impacts   Current Activities


Entry into Force

January 1, 2000


All (56) OSCE
Participating States

Selected Participating

Canada, Belarus,
Czech Republic,
France, Georgia,
Germany, Hungary,
Kazakhstan, Moldova,
Poland, Russia, Turkey,
Ukraine, United
Kingdom, and United

Official Website (External Link)

Purpose and Background

The Vienna Document of 2011 (VDOC11) is composed of politically binding confidence and security-building measures (CSBMs). These measures are designed to promote mutual trust and security among the 56 participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

VDOC11 was released under the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) Decision on Reissuing the Vienna Document (FSC.DEC/14/11) adopted at the 665th Special Meeting the OSCE FSC in Vienna on November 30, 2011. Under FSC Decision No. 1/10 of 2010, the participating States of the OSCE agreed to update the Vienna Document at least every five years, starting in 2011, through a process known as the Vienna Document Plus.

VDOC11 retains the core documents of the Vienna Document 1999 (VDOC99), which integrated a set of new CSBMs with measures previously adopted in successive predecessor documents: the Document of the Stockholm Conference of 1986; the Helsinki Document of 1992; and the Vienna Documents of 1990, 1992, and 1994. In addition to these predecessor documents, VDOC11 also integrates the resolutions within Ministerial Council Decision No. 16/09 for strengthening the OSCE CSBMs; FSC Decision No. 1/10 of 2010; and the Astana Commemorative Declaration of 2010, on revitalizing, updating and modernizing of arms control and CSBMs regimes.

Each of these documents represents progress "in stages" toward enabling participating States to better achieve the OSCE's disarmament goals and refraining from the threat or use of force.

The measures of VDOC11, retained from VDOC99, are intended to:

  • limit a wider array of military activities;
  • increase site visits, inspections, and observations; and
  • promote further consultations and cooperation between participating States.
The CSBMs in VDOC11 focus on increasing openness and transparency concerning military activities conducted inside the OSCE's zone of application (ZOA), consisting of the whole of Europe and parts of Central Asia. The ZOA includes the territory, surrounding sea areas, and air space of all European and Central Asian participating States. In the case of the United States, only U.S. military activities conducted inside the ZOA are impacted by these CSBMs.

The FSC is the multinational body responsible for overseeing VDOC11 implementation. It was created by the OSCE in 1992 and provides a forum where representatives from participating States discuss, negotiate, and clarify matters relating to CSBMs. The FSC meets weekly in Vienna, and hosts the Annual Implementation Assessment Meeting (AIAM).

The United States is committed to being in full compliance with all provisions of VDOC11. These provisions include a wide variety of information exchanges, on-site inspections, evaluation visits, observation visits, and other military-to-military contacts. Some of the core CSBMs contained in VDOC11 are listed below:

  • Annual exchange of military information (AEI) — exchanging information on command organization, personnel strength, and major conventional weapon and equipment systems;
  • Defense planning — exchanging information on defense policy, force planning, budgets, procurements, and calendars;
  • Demonstrations of new major weapon systems or equipment — arranging observation visits at military facilities;
  • Prior notification of certain (large-scale) military activities — providing at least 42 days advance notice and, in certain cases, inviting observers;
  • Constraining provisions — specifying limits on certain types of large-scale military activities;
  • Compliance and verification — specifying participating States' rights and obligations with regard to on-site inspections and evaluation visits;
  • Regional measures — encouraging participating States to conclude additional agreements among themselves that are tailored to regional needs and complement VDOC11 measures.

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Potential Facility Impacts

Key Verification Measures

VDOC11 allows participating States to conduct on-site inspection activities and evaluation visits to confirm the accuracy of information provided in information exchanges. Participating States are obligated to accept no more than three on-site inspections each year, and no more than one inspection from the same participating State. The participating State requesting the inspection may designate the "specified area” for the inspection. The specified area may comprise terrain where notifiable military activities are conducted or where another participating State believes a notifiable military activity is taking place.

The inspecting State may invite other participating States to be part of the inspection team, but the size of an inspection team is limited to no more than four inspectors. The maximum time allowed for inspection activities is 48 hours, which begins when the inspection team arrives at the specified area. The inspection team may access the specified area by ground and air, except for areas or sensitive points where access is normally denied or restricted.

Evaluation visits are shorter and less intrusive than inspections. Each visit must be completed within a single working day and there is no requirement for the host State (receiving State or stationing State) to provide access to sensitive facilities and equipment. Evaluation teams may consist of no more than three members and are obligated not to interfere with the activities of the formation or unit being visited. The maximum number of evaluation visits a participating State is obligated to accept each year is 15.

In 2009, the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) announced its decision to develop the “Best Practice Guide for Implementation of the Vienna Document 1999.” At the FSC’s plenary meeting in November, participating States considered whether to expand the use of digital cameras as a means for improving VDOC99 compliance and facilitating verification.

In September 2010, the FSC was tasked with updating Chapter V “Prior Notification of Certain Military Activities” and Chapter IX “Compliance and Verification.” Participating States also reached decisions relating to the eligibility of airbases for hosting visits and the timing of demonstrations of new types of weapon systems and equipment. In addition, participating States partially updated Chapter IV “Contacts,” Chapter IX, and Chapter XII “Final Provisions.”

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Current Activities

Recent Developments

In 2010, FSC Decision No. 1/10 established the Vienna Document PLUS (VD PLUS) procedure for incorporating relevant FSC decisions into the Vienna Document. Most notably, VD Plus includes a resolution to revise the Vienna Document “on a regular basis […] reissuing it every five years or more frequently, starting not later than 2011.”

This process was used in September 2011, when the FSC issued Decision No. 10/11 renaming VDOC99 as the Vienna Document 2011, and rewriting the Introduction (paragraphs 1-8) to the Vienna Document. The FSC convened a special meeting in November 2011 to adopt the changes, after which VDOC11 entered into force.

The 22nd AIAM was held March 6-7, 2012 in Vienna, Austria, to discuss VDOC11 and the Global Exchange of Military Information (GEMI), as well as other topics relating to CSBMs. During the AIAM, delegations were encouraged to bring forward suggestions or topics of interest by means of food-for-thought papers, and before the meeting, participants reviewed the following for discussion:

  • The revised Annual Survey on CSBM Information Exchanged and the AIAM Survey of Suggestions 2011;
  • A summary report on recent trends in the implementation of the Vienna Document 1999 and other measures; and
  • A summary report on the meeting of the Heads of Verification Centers held on December 14, 2011.

In July 2012, the Chairperson of the FSC, H.E. Ambassador Gints Apals of Latvia, remarked at the closing of the second working session of the FSC:

Since the beginning of the year we went through a turbulent period while internal legal requirements delayed the appropriate implementation of the Vienna Document 2011.

Nevertheless, we have used this time actively to enrich the agenda of the working group “A” and reflect, discuss and review the Vienna Document proposals on the table, such as, on lowering thresholds, prior notification of major military activities, and on notification of permanent changes in the command organization of military forces. We have welcomed with appreciation the new Vienna document proposals: first, on including selected non-combat units in the Annual Exchange of Military Information proposed by Germany; second - a draft decision on reporting of military expenditures.

The 23rd AIAM will be held March 5-6, 2013, in Vienna, Austria. Working sessions will be held to discuss implementation of the VDOC11 Preamble and Chapters I to XII, as well as GEMI implementation.

Inspection Status

Since 1992, an average of four inspections and evaluation visits have been conducted each year at U.S. facilities located within the ZOA. On average, participating States conduct a total of 90 inspections and 45 evaluation visits each year. These evaluation visits and inspections may be conducted under regional or bilateral agreements and “guest” inspectors or evaluators may be invited to be members of an inspection or evaluation team.

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