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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Final Document of the Second Review Conference on the Implementation of the Treaty on Open Skies

Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation
June 9, 2010


The States Parties to the Treaty on Open Skies, hereinafter referred to as the States Parties,

Fulfilling the obligation set forth in Article XVI, paragraph 3, of the Treaty on Open Skies, hereinafter referred to as the Treaty, to conduct a review of the implementation of the Treaty,

Reaffirming the decisions of the Open Skies Consultative Commission,

Having met at the Second Review Conference, chaired by the United States of America, from 7–9 June in Vienna, agreed on the following:

Successful Transparency Contribution Towards Security

The Treaty on Open Skies is an important legally binding agreement that provides an unprecedented level of transparency among its States Parties from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The Treaty serves as a key pillar of co-operation within the Euro-Atlantic security architecture as a whole. Furthermore, Open Skies, together with the CFE regime and Vienna Document 1999, forms the backbone of the European conventional arms control system and builds confidence and security in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions. States Parties are fulfilling the goals set forth in the Treaty’s preamble, especially with respect to improving openness and transparency.

Through successful implementation of the Treaty, States Parties maintain a network of events that provide significant confidence and security-building results. This is accomplished through the diligent efforts of our respective teams in the conduct of over 100 observation flights annually, and over 670 flights since the Treaty entered into force in January 2002.

The Treaty is also intended to facilitate the monitoring of compliance with existing and future arms control agreements. For this reason, the States Parties remain committed to the continued, successful implementation of the Treaty in the future.

The States Parties discussed aspects of quota distribution, recognizing that the Open Skies mechanism of quota distribution should reflect the principles of equity, reciprocity and co-operation.

Full implementation of the Treaty significantly contributes toward achieving the goals and objectives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), in particular the promotion of confidence, stability and security in Europe. The Treaty continues to fully support the OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-First Century, agreed by Ministers in 2003.

A stable European security environment remains of paramount interest for all the States Parties. New risks and challenges to security continue to emerge, including a number of transnational threats unforeseen at the time the Treaty was negotiated. Adaptive use of Open Skies assets may provide opportunities for States to address these emerging threats and challenges, including those mentioned in Ministerial Decision No. 2/09 on Further OSCE Efforts to Address Transnational Threats and Challenges to Security and Stability.

States Parties note with satisfaction that to date 34 OSCE participating States are Parties to the Treaty. Expanding the membership of the Treaty would enhance the effectiveness and would provide the opportunity to broaden the security benefits derived from Treaty implementation within the OSCE area of application. States Parties encourage and welcome accession to the Treaty by more OSCE participating States, in this regard, they note that one application for accession is on the agenda of the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC).

Challenges Ahead

Many States Parties have suffered economically in recent years, and many government ministries are imposing budget constraints that have an impact on the ability of States to maintain a robust Treaty implementation program.

Technology advances in the world of sensors requires States to transition from film-based cameras to digital cameras in the near future. States expect film production to be limited and increasingly expensive in the next few years. The requirement to plan financially for this transition now is imperative. Since this may be a costly transition, States Parties are encouraged to examine options for sensor replacement, on a national basis or jointly with others, in the immediate future.

Also, some Open Skies aircraft are nearing service limits, and are costly to maintain. Replacement costs for introducing newer aircraft into the Open Skies fleet also will require significant investment.

Hence, the long-term viability of the Treaty requires States Parties to engage in strategic planning, separately and together, for these important capital investments.

The States Parties recognize the need for the OSCC to address and consider further actions on these transition issues.

Future Actions for Continued Success

The Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), being the formal permanent body of the Treaty, has the mandate to address a broad range of technical and policy issues of interest to all States Parties. The OSCC has a proven track record for addressing issues in a constructive, co-operative manner. OSCC Informal Working Groups (IWGs) have played an important role in preparing decision documents and have the mandate to continue working on a variety of issues.

States Parties acknowledge that the IWGs have a key role in producing and updating several documents necessary for the certification of all categories of sensors covered by the Treaty. To this end, the States Parties welcome the recent Decisions for Digital Video Sensors (OSCC.DEC/6/10); and take note that two other related draft Decisions have been agreed by the Informal Working Group on Sensors (OSCC.DD/8/10 and OSCC.DD/9/10). Together, these three Decisions will allow States to begin the acquisition process for digital video sensors, and to prepare for certification.

States Parties will continue, or begin, discussions in the OSCC on the following issues in the near future:

Sensors: States Parties reaffirm their intention to facilitate use of all sensor categories provided for in the Treaty. The OSCC and IWGs will, within their respective mandates:

  • Address, as a matter of priority, additional decisions necessary for the certification of sensors; 

  • Assist States in designing a transition plan that provides for the procurement and certification of digital sensors within the next three years; 

  • Review current procedures for sharing and storage of film products to determine the best approach for digital data. Identify new and cost-effective procedures as appropriate.

Operational: States Parties discussed the question of establishing minimal technical standards for Open Skies airfields. The OSCC will address the issue further.

Outreach: The successful implementation of the Treaty has enabled the States Parties to consider the possibility of realizing the potential utility of the Treaty as described in its Preamble, while maintaining its primary purpose of enhancing confidence and security. States Parties recall that the OSCC may facilitate extraordinary observation flights over the territory of a State Party, with its consent, on request from those bodies of the OSCE authorised to deal with conflict prevention and crisis management, and from other relevant international organisations. States Parties discussed the development of specific steps States could follow in requesting such extraordinary observation flights.

Proposals by States Parties for the use of the Open Skies regime in specific additional fields, such as the environment, may be raised for consideration in the OSCC. States Parties appreciate the discussions on the possibility that imagery obtained during the Open Skies flights could make a contribution regarding transnational security issues. States Parties recognize the potential value of further discussions in the OSCC on these topics.

The States Parties recognize that the Treaty might serve as a model for aerial monitoring regimes in other regions of the world in order to promote security and stability. They are prepared to enter into dialogue with interested parties in order to share experience, to exchange general information about the Treaty and its benefits and to provide advice on co-operative aerial observation.

* * * * *

Eighteen years after its signature, the Treaty continues in a spirit of co-operation and trust that has grown over time, proving its enduring relevance and viability. In our dynamic security environment, the Treaty provides a valuable means to enhance openness and transparency among the Parties. The States Parties look forward to future contributions the Treaty will make toward the security of all Parties.

In accordance with Article XVI, paragraph 3, the States Parties look forward to gathering again in five years’ time at the Third Conference to review the implementation of the Treaty on Open Skies. States Parties expect that the third Review Conference will find the Treaty to be a continued success.

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