Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement is a body responsible to contribute to security and stability at the regional and international level by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in the transfer of dual-use good and technologies and conventional arms. It is one among the International grouping responsible for the export and transfer of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and equipment.

The Arrangement is seen as a successor to the former Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM). COCOM was terminated by its members due to its drawbacks in export control methodology and ceased to exist in 1994.  

The participant countries are responsible to ensure that the National policies for the transfer of any such product are carried out peacefully and does not harm any other Country or its citizens. A total of 42 countries are a member of this Arrangement and India is one of them.

This is a very important topic for candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC 2021 exam and will help candidates know more about the security and protection of the nation from nuclear and bio-chemical weapons. 

Wassenaar Arrangement: Its Objectives & Members

The Wassenaar Arrangement was established in the year 1996. The founding document of the Wassenaar Arrangement is also known as Initial Elements. Certain important elements that contribute to the Wassenaar Arrangement’s Approach include:

  1. Control Lists
  2. Procedures for the General Information Exchange
  3. Procedures for the exchange of Information of arms
  4. Meetings and administration
  5. Participation
  6. Procedures for the Exchange of Information on Dual-Use Goods and Technology and confidentiality. 

The Wassenaar Arrangement was introduced keeping in mind certain objectives. Given below are the objectives of the Wassenaar Arrangement:

  1. It contributes to the National and International security and stability
  2. It controls export in order to combat terrorism
  3. It promotes transparency in the transfer of conventional arms and dual-use technologies and equipment
  4. Reinforces the export control regimes for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction
  5. It is not directed to any State or group of states

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.
  • The position of Plenary Chair is subject to annual rotation among the Participating States.
  • In 2018 the Plenary Chair was held by the United Kingdom, and in 2019 the Chair is held by Greece.
  • From 1 January 2021, Hungary will assume the Chair of the Plenary, the United States will assume the Chair of the General Working Group, Malta will assume the Chair of the Experts Group, and Italy will continue to provide the Chair of the Licensing and Enforcement Officers Meeting.
  • The next regular WA Plenary meeting is scheduled to take place in Vienna in December 2021.
  • All Plenary decisions are taken by consensus.

Apart from the Wassenaar Arrangement, there are other international bodies responsible for the management, export and transfer of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, equipment and technologies:

  1. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
  2. Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
  3. Australia Group 
  4. Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

There are 42 members in the Wassenaar Arrangement, and given below is the list of members of the Arrangement:

Wassenaar Arrangement Members
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 United States

Candidates preparing for the IAS exam can visit the linked article for more details. Also check out the links provided in the table below to prepare comprehensively for the upcoming exams – 

Wassenaar Arrangement and India

India was inducted to the Wassenaar Arrangement on 7 December 2017 as the 42nd member.

India joining the Wassenaar Arrangement implies that India is also recognised to have dual-use technology. There is an exchange of notes when countries meet in such arrangements. So, India will gain access to high technology which will help to address the demands of its defence & space sectors.

The Civil nuclear deal with the US resulted in India’s participation in various nuclear and biochemical deals. It was in 2017 that India became a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement. India’s membership in the Arrangement will help India address the demands of the Indian space and defence sector. 

The participation in the Wassenaar Arrangement has opened doors for India to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which India has been persistently trying to join. High technology tie-ups will also see a boost with respect to the increased defence programmes. Also, becoming a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement may prove beneficial for India, since China is not one of the members of WA. India is now in the wake of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group as it would uplift its position in the world in terms of nuclear power, technology and becoming a global power. 

Wassenaar Arrangement:- Download PDF Here

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