Export control over biological materials and technologies

Article III of the BWC requires all states parties to refrain from transferring biological weapons to anyone and from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to manufacture or acquire them. In order to fulfil these obligations, some states have organised into informal export control regimes that restrict the international transfer of goods or technology. This needs to be done while respecting states’ right in Article X of the BWC to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of CBRN materials for peaceful purposes.

National export control lists can take into account these various arrangements, which help states to coordinate their export control measures.

Australia Group

The Australia Group, comprised of 42 states and the European Commission, is a voluntary, informal arrangement to coordinate national export controls to limit the supply of chemicals and biological agents and related equipment, technologies and knowledge to states and non-state actors suspected of biological or chemical weapons capabilities. It was established in 1985.

Its control lists continue to provide an international benchmark for best practice controls on chemical and biological agents, being used increasingly as a guide for international action in this area, including in the coverage and application of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions such as UNSCR 1540. The Australia Group plenary in 2007 emphasised its commitment to ensuring that non-proliferation export controls do not hinder legitimate trade and technical cooperation in the chemical and biological sectors.

The Australia Group has developed the following lists and guidelines, which are updated on a regular basis:

  • List of animal pathogens for export control
  • List of biological agents for export control
  • List of plant pathogens for export control
  • Control list of dual-use biological equipment and related technology
  • Guidelines for transfers of sensitive chemical or biological items

The lists and guidelines are available in various languages on the Australia Group website:

Arabic
ChineseEnglishFrenchGermanRussianSpanish

European Union export controls on dual-use goods

The European Union has developed a control list of dual-use items which is updated on a regular basis. Under the EU regime, controlled items may not leave the EU customs territory without an export authorisation. Additional restrictions are also in place concerning the provision of brokering services with regard to dual-use items and concerning the transit of such items through the EU.

The EU Export control list is available at the European Commission website.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in 1987 to encourage the limitation of the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for biological, chemical and nuclear attacks. The regime has 34 members.

Please see the MTCR website for more information: EnglishFrench

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