The Australia Group is an informal arrangement. The purpose of Australia Group meetings is to explore the scope for increasing the effectiveness of existing controls, including through information exchange, the harmonisation of national measures and, where necessary, the consideration of the introduction of additional measures.
All participants have licensing measures over 89 chemical weapons precursors. Participants also require licences for the export of specific:
- Dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities, equipment and related technology;
- Plant pathogens;
- Animal pathogens;
- Biological agents; and
- Dual-use biological equipment and related technology.
The above items form the basis for the Group’s ‘common control lists’, which have been developed during Australia Group consultations and are adjusted from time to time to ensure their continued effectiveness. Measures agreed by meetings of the Group are applied on a national basis, although all participants agree they will be more effective if similar measures are introduced by all potential exporters of relevant chemicals, biological agents and equipment and by countries of possible transhipment. Under these measures, exports are denied only if there is a well founded concern about potential diversion for CBW purposes.
Australia Group participants encourage all countries to take the necessary steps to ensure that they and their industries are not contributing to the spread of CBW. Export licensing measures demonstrate the determination of Australia Group countries to avoid involvement in the proliferation of these weapons in violation of international law and norms. In addition to being consistent with non-proliferation provisions at the CWC and BWC, such measures are required at all states to ensure compliance with UN Security Resolution 1540.