Relationship with the Chemical Weapons Convention
Australia Group participants strongly supported the negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva leading to the conclusion of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). They became original signatories to the Convention when it opened for signature in Paris in January 1993 and are States Parties to that Convention. Australia Group participants are now playing an active and constructive role in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.
The CWC contains a number of provisions relating to the transfer of chemicals which may be diverted to CW programs. Article I of the CWC prohibits States Parties from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in activity prohibited by the Convention, or from developing, producing, acquiring, or stockpiling chemical weapons. Article VI requires States Parties to ensure that the development, production, acquisition, retention, transfer or use of toxic chemicals and their precursors does not take place for purposes prohibited by the Convention. In addition, Parts VI, VII and VIII of the Annex on Implementation and Verification impose specific restrictions on the trade in chemicals listed in the Schedules to the Convention.
Participants in the Australia Group reflect support for the CWC as the principal instrument for addressing the threat posed by chemical weapons. Australia Group participants believe their involvement in the Group is fully consistent with the CWC and indeed is an effective means of implementing those key obligations in the CWC listed above. The establishment of efficient national export licensing mechanisms serves to strengthen the non-proliferation goals of the CWC, whilst at the same time encouraging trade in chemical materials for legitimate, peaceful purposes.
Relationship with the Biological Weapons Convention
All of the participants in the Australia Group are States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), which has been in force since 1975. They have also been active in efforts to strengthen the Treaty, including through active participation in the confidence building measures agreed by successive BWC review conferences, and in annual meetings since the Fifth Review Conference in 2001.
Article I of the BWC prohibits States Parties from developing, producing, stockpiling, or otherwise acquiring or retaining biological agents and toxins, or related biological weapons or equipment. Article III of the BWC obliges States Parties to prevent the transfer of materials which might assist the manufacture, or any means of acquiring, biological weapons. The Australia Group's activities serve to support the objectives of the BWC by enhancing the effectiveness of national export licensing measures.