Public Statement – 3 December 1999
The fifth Plenary meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) was held December 1-3, 1999 under the chairmanship of Ambassador Staffan Sohlman (Sweden).
The Plenary discussed the work carried out in 1999 on a number of issues relevant to the WA’s purposes, including: information sharing on arms and sensitive technology flows to regions in conflict or otherwise of concern; issues related to specific projects, programmes and end-users of concern; and on diversions and unauthorised transhipments. Participating States also examined global arms import trends and sensitive emerging technologies.
Participating States reaffirmed their commitment to maintain responsible national policies consistent with the purposes and objectives of the Wassenaar Arrangement; and to maximum restraint as a matter of national policy when considering licensing for the export of arms and sensitive dual-use items to all destinations, where the risks are judged greatest, in particular to regions where conflict is occurring. They noted with concern continuing illicit arms flows to zones of conflict, including to states and parties subject to mandatory UNSC arms embargoes. They also noted with concern licit transfers to zones of conflict from states not participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement. They decided to continue, on the basis of information exchanged, their discussion of regions where the risks are judged greatest with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the Wassenaar Arrangement, taking into account the right to self defence of legitimate governments.
The Plenary reiterated its encouragement that Participating States undertake an appropriate collaborative role with ECOWAS Member States to respect the provisions of the ECOWAS Moratorium, and consider providing advisory and/or technical assistance in the implementation of the Moratorium.
Participating States confirmed that they share the concerns regarding the threat to civil aviation, peace-keeping, crisis management, and anti-terrorist operations posed by the illicit possession of Man Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS) and recognised the need for appropriate measures to prevent such possession. In this connection, Participating States agreed to continue discussion of this issue, in particular, with a view to possible development of guidelines.
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies was established in July 1996 by 33 Participating States on the basis of the Initial Elements (see web site: www.wassenaar.org). Meetings are held in Vienna, Austria, where the Arrangement is based. The Participating States of the Wassenaar Arrangement are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.
In addition to its regular annual review, the Plenary concluded the first overall Assessment of the functioning of the Arrangement, which was carried out over the past year in accordance with the 1996 decision by Participating States. The Plenary drew a number of conclusions from this assessment.
Participating States agreed that Wassenaar Arrangement objectives remain valid as laid down in the Initial Elements. It was also agreed that, in line with these goals, the WA should continue to contribute to preventing circumvention of export controls, inter alia, by terrorist or organised criminal groups that seek to acquire armaments and dual-use items.
Participating States agreed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the General Information Exchange.
Participating States, while deciding not to revise the WA Initial Elements at this point, reaffirmed again the evolutionary nature of the WA, noting the provisions in the Initial Elements for review of particular issues outside an overall assessment.
Participating States, having analysed the agreed criteria for assessing destabilising accumulations of weapons and proposals to improve arms transparency, agreed to elaborate reporting requirements for the exchange of information on arms deliveries. (An amended version of Appendix 3 to the Initial Elements is attached).
Participating States continued to consider and discuss the question of small arms and light weapons transfers, and their illicit trafficking. They reaffirmed the importance of implementing responsible export policies and maintaining effective export controls with respect to small arms and light weapons, and decided to study the issue further as a matter of urgency.
Whilst acknowledging the current practice of voluntary reporting on arms transfer denials on an individual basis and undercuts of such denials, Participating States agreed to study the value of reporting such transfers and denials.
Recognising that the level of transparency in the dual-use pillar is already advanced, Participating States decided to study the possible inclusion of end-user data in denial notifications of Tier One items on the list of dual-use goods and technologies, and of items on Tier Two and its subset of Very Sensitive items.
Participating States agreed to certain control list amendments. They also agreed that the lists should continue to be updated in a timely manner and in accordance with Wassenaar procedures to keep them relevant to security, technological and commercial developments.
Participating States recognised it is important to have comprehensive controls of listed “software” and “technology”, including controls on intangible transfers. Participating States also recognised that it is important to continue deepening WA understanding of how and how much to control those transfers. In this context, Participating States agreed that the possibility of taking national measures should be considered.
Participating States affirmed that there should be strong, effective, transparent and national law-based enforcement of export controls. The elements of export control enforcement include a preventive programme, an investigatory process, penalties for violations and international cooperation.
Participating States reaffirmed that the Wassenaar Arrangement is open, on a global and non-discriminatory basis, to prospective adherents that comply with the agreed criteria for participation.
Participating States agreed to work actively with non-Participating States with a view to contributing to the ability of non-participants to implement responsible national export control policies in line with WA purposes, to establish and enforce effective national export control systems, and to provide support, as appropriate, in meeting criteria for membership by non-Participating States.
It was also agreed that an information exchange at the political/institutional level with other international fora dealing with issues similar to the WA’s may be developed not only concerning the areas and nature of each other’s activities to avoid duplication of work, or to facilitate complementarity, but also concerning parallel or even joint actions, after comprehensive coordination and preparation.
Members of the Plenary expressed their sincere thanks to Ambassador Staffan Sohlman for his major contributions to the work of the Wassenaar Arrangement during his term in office as Chairman.
The next WA Plenary regular meeting is to be held in Bratislava in November/December 2000. Ambassador Alojz Némethy (Slovakia) will assume the chairmanship as of 1 January 2000.
Vienna, December 3rd , 1999