10 Jul 2020

Wassenaar Arrangement2 min read

What is the Wassenaar Arrangement?

It is an elite club of countries which subscribe to arms export controls, similar to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

About Wassenaar Arrangement

  • The body came into being in 1996 to succeed the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls.
  • The name comes from Wassenaar, a suburb of The Hague, where the agreement to start such multi-lateral cooperation was reached in 1995.
  • The WA was designed to promote transparency, exchange of views and information and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
  • It complements and reinforces, without duplication, the existing regimes for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, by focusing on the threats to international and regional peace and security which may arise form transfers of armaments and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies where the risks are judged greatest.
  • This arrangement is also intended to enhance co-operation to prevent the acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual-use items for military end-uses, if the situation in a region or the behavior of a state is, or becomes, a cause for serious concern to the Participating States.
  • The Participating States seek through their national policies to ensure that transfers of arms and dual-use goods and technologies do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities that undermine international and regional security and stability and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
  • The Arrangement does not impede bona fide civil transactions and is not directed against any state or group of states.
  • All measures undertaken with respect to the Arrangement are in accordance with member countries’ national legislation and policies and implemented on the basis of national discretion.

Member countries

  • It has 42 members, the latest entrant being India. With the exception of China, all the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are signatories of the WA, which is headquartered in Vienna.
  • The Arrangement is open on a global and non-discriminatory basis to prospective adherents that comply with the agreed criteria. To be admitted, a state must: be a producer/exporter of arms or industrial equipment respectively; maintain non-proliferation policies and appropriate national policies, including adherence to relevant non-proliferation regimes and treaties; and maintain fully effective export controls.

How does the Wassenaar Arrangement work?

  • The goal of the Arrangement is to “promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies”.
  • Participants are required to “ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine the goal”.
  • The aim, according to WA, is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

Wassenaar Control Lists

  • The Arrangement works according to what it calls WA Control Lists. The controls are subject to ratification by the participants.
  • WA members agree to exchange information on sensitive dual-use goods and technologies and report on such transfers and denials of controlled items to non-participants.

What does this mean to India?

Since it’s a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India would look up to the WA membership to boost its credentials to enter NSG.

India and Nuclear related treaties

Barring NSG, India is part of all other export control regimes- Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)

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