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News Review Special Edition

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International Developments, November 15, 2002 - February 1, 2003

Wassenaar Arrangement Agrees New Measures on Terrorism, Small Arms

Mid-December saw a productive Plenary Meeting of the 33 Participating States of the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) on Export Control Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. A Public Statement issued after the close of the two-day meeting (December 11-12) in Vienna announced agreement on "a major new initiative on small arms and light weapons (SALW) - weapons of choice for terrorists." The Statement elaborated: "Participating States...adopted a document setting out detailed 'best practice' guidelines and criteria for exports of SALW. They also agreed to study the adoption of the sub-categories of SALW used in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe [OSCE] as a basis for reporting of SALW within the Wassenaar Arrangement. The Plenary reaffirmed the importance of responsible export policies towards, and effective export controls over, SALW in order to prevent uncontrolled proliferation, destabilising accumulations and diversion."

In addition to the guidelines, the Plenary also reached agreement to intensify efforts "to prevent the acquisition of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies by terrorist groups and organisations, as well as by individual terrorists. To this end, they developed new means for sharing information and for implementing concrete actions to strengthen export controls over these items. In their review of the lists of items subject to export controls, Participating States paid particular attention to the terrorism threat, introducing new controls for this purpose. A number of additional proposals aimed at strengthening export controls as part of the fight against terrorism and against illicit transfers were made. In this context, Participating States also agreed to review existing WA guidelines regarding Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) to assess the adequacy of these guidelines in preventing terrorist use of such systems."

With regard to the Arrangement's contribution to combating the illicit trade in SALW, a 'Statement of Understanding on Arms Brokerage' was adopted, emphasising "the importance of comprehensive controls on transfers of conventional arms, sensitive dual use goods and technologies." The Statement continues:

"In order to accomplish these objectives, Participating States recognize the value of regulating the activities of arms brokers. For the purpose of developing a WA policy on international arms brokering, Participating States will, in addition to continuing the elaboration and refining of criteria for effective arms brokering legislation and discuss enforcement measures, consider, inter alia, such measures as:

  • Requiring registration of arms brokers;
  • Limiting the number of licensed brokers;
  • Requiring licensing or authorization of brokering; or
  • Requiring disclosure of import and export licenses or authorizations, or of accompanying documents and of the names and locations of brokers involved in transactions."

Note: the 33 members of the WA are - Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

Related material on Acronym website:

Report: Public Statement, 2002 Plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, December 12, Wassenaar Arrangement website, http://www.wassenaar.org.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.