The Australia Group (AG) is an alliance of States and the European Union that aims to prevent the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons through internationally coordinated export controls.
What are biological weapons?
The term biological weapons covers bacteriological and toxin weapons that use microbiological and other biological toxins and agents for hostile purposes or armed conflict. Biological weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction and are outlawed under international law by the BWC.
What are chemical weapons?
Chemical weapons are toxic chemicals and their precursors, as well as munitions and devices for their release. Toxic chemicals are those that can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent damage to humans and animals. Precursors are chemical reaction components that are involved in the production of a toxic chemical at any stage. Chemical weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction and are outlawed under international law by the CWC.
Following the use of chemical weapons in the war between Iraq and Iran, the AG was created to stop the proliferation of chemical and later biological weapons. The primary objective of AG countries is to ensure that their industries do not, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to the proliferation of these globally outlawed weapons through exports while at the same time not impede legitimate trade in AG-controlled goods. Participating States are major suppliers or transit countries for dual-use chemicals, biological agents and toxins, and equipment that could be misused for a biological or chemical weapons programme.
The AG is not an international organisation based on a legally binding treaty, but a politically binding export control regime for the participating States, whose decisions are taken by consensus. The first meeting took place in Brussels in 1985 at the suggestion of Australia, which explains the name of the group.
The participating States agree on control lists of relevant dual-use goods that require a licence when exported. The lists are regularly reviewed and adapted to ensure their continued effectiveness.
All participating States have ratified both the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The national export controls coordinated in the AG make an important contribution to the implementation of the non-proliferation obligations enshrined in the two Conventions.
Last modification 09.09.2021