United Nations Publications related to the Subject of Conversion: An Annotated Bibliography

Release date: 1995-03

In the past, research in the area of military conversion was not a major focus of the departments in the UN Secretariat and the semi-autonomous and autonomous organizations of the United Nations system. Different perceptions of the concept of conversion by Member States blocked any initiative to assess the subject directly. Issues related to military conversion were addressed in the context of research on the economic and social consequences of the global armaments race. Primary efforts were dedicated to the development of standardized and refined reporting instruments for military budgets. From the beginning of the 1980s, the United Nations directed increasing interest toward the relationship between disarmament and development. Focusing attention on the impacts of disarmament, several UN inititiatives were begun regarding the potential economic consequences of disarmament measures on the national defense industries of Member States—thus dealing with one main aspect of conversion. The signing of the INF Treaty in 1987 symbolizes the turning point in the superpowers’ arms race. The numerous unilateral, bilateral and multilateral disarmament measures signed since then have reawakened an old question in a new international context—how does one convert excess military capacities for civilian use?  The rising number of UN publications dealing with the different aspects of conversion is a clear expression of the attention dedicated by Member States to the subject. A number of UN institutions now have mandates to research particular aspects of conversion and to assist Member States in their conversion efforts. In other words, the field research about conversion has been removed from academia and has become a major issue dealt with by the United Nations system.
This report assembles a bibliography of United Nations publications related to the subject of conversion as of September 1994. Chapter 1 gives a brief introduction to the analytical approach, defines military conversion according to the United Nations’ terminology and highlights the major obstacles hampering the research. Chapter 2 indicates which institutions in the network of the United Nations organization have dealt or are dealing with the subject of conversion. It focuses not on a detailed description of the different initiatives started by these UN institutions, but rather on the resulting publications. Publications have been listed for each separate UN institution under consideration.