The Wassenaar Arrangement
The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations. Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities, which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities. The aim is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.
The Participating States of the Wassenaar Arrangement are:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Participating States apply export controls to all items set forth in the List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies and the Munitions List with the objective of preventing unauthorized transfers or re-transfers of those items. To assist in developing common understandings of transfer risks, Participating States regularly exchange information of both a general and a specific nature. Participating States are required to report their arms transfers and transfers/denials of certain dual-use goods and technologies to destinations outside the Arrangement on a six-monthly basis. In some cases, shorter reporting time-frames apply.
In fulfilling the purposes of the Arrangement as described above, Participating States have, inter alia, agreed to a number of guidelines, elements and procedures as a basis for decision-making through the application of their own national legislation and policies. The decision to transfer or deny the transfer of any item is the sole responsibility of each Participating State. All measures with respect to the Arrangement are taken in accordance with national legislation and policies and are implemented on the basis of national discretion. For specifics on Export Controls in Participating States National Contacts .Representatives of Participating States meet regularly in Vienna where the Wassenaar Arrangement has established its Secretariat.
The Wassenaar Arrangement Plenary is the decision-making body of the Arrangement. It is composed of representatives of all Participating States and normally meets once a year, usually in December. All Plenary decisions are taken by consensus. The position of Plenary Chair is subject to annual rotation among Participating States. The last Plenary Meeting of Wassenar Arrangement (WA) was held in December 2019. Ireland is the current Plenary Chair for the year 2022 and was preceded by Hungary who was the Chair for 2021. India will assume the Plenary Chair in January 2023.
The Plenary establishes subsidiary bodies for the preparation of recommendations for Plenary decisions and calls ad-hoc meetings for consultations on issues related to the functioning of the Wassenaar Arrangement. At present, the main subsidiary bodies are: (a) the General Working Group (GWG), which deals with policy-related matters, and meets twice a year and; (b) the Experts Group (EG), which is responsible for proposing the annual updating of the Arrangement’s control list. It meets at least twice a year, in spring and autumn. Once a year, a Licensing and Enforcement Officers Meeting (LEOM) is held.
In addition, the Wassenaar Arrangement draws up voluntary best practices guidelines taking into account certain specific themes carrying risks with regard to regional or international security. Ambassador Philip Griffiths, from New Zealand, is presently serving as the head of the Wassenaar Arrangement Secretariat.
India and the Wassenaar Arrangement
India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) as its 42nd Participating State on 8 December 2017. India’s membership of the WA will facilitate high technology tie-ups with the Indian industry and ease access to high-tech items for India’s defence and space programmes. India’s entry into the WA would further contribute to international security and non-proliferation objectives.
An inter-agency Indian delegation actively participates in the meetings of Wassenaar Arrangement. Various Indian ministries and departments contribute towards provision of technical expertise during the work the Wassenaar Arrangement. These include: Ministry of External Affairs, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Defense, Department of Space, and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The WA control lists are transposed in India’s national unified export control list-Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies (SCOMET), which is updated annually.