Participants maintain a strong belief that full adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) will be the best way to eliminate these types of particularly inhumane weapons from the world's arsenals. In this context, the maintenance of effective export controls will remain an essential practical means of fulfilling obligations under the CWC and the BTWC.
All participants at the meeting welcomed the expected entry into force of the CWC*, noting that this long-awaited step will be an important, historic moment in international efforts to prohibit chemical weapons. Participants agreed to issue a separate statement on this matter, which is attached.
Participants also welcomed the progress of efforts to strengthen the BTWC in the negotiations taking place in the Ad Hoc Group of BTWC States Parties in Geneva. All Australia Group participating countries are also States Parties to this Treaty, and strongly support efforts to develop internationally-agreed procedures for strengthening international confidence in the treaty regime by verifying compliance with BTWC obligations.
Experts from participating countries discussed national export licensing systems aimed at preventing inadvertent assistance to the production of CBW. They confirmed that participants administered export controls in a streamlined and effective manner which allows trade and the exchange of technology for peaceful purposes to flourish. They agreed to continue working to focus these national measures efficiently and solely on preventing any contribution to chemical and biological weapons programs. Participants noted that the value of these measures in inhibiting CBW proliferation benefited not only the countries participating in the Australia Group, but the whole international community.
Participants also agreed to continue a wide range of contacts, including a further program of briefings for countries not participating in the Paris consultations to further awareness and understanding of national policies in this area. Participants endorsed in this context the importance of regional seminars as valuable means of widening contacts with other countries on these issues. In particular, Romania's plans to host a seminar on CBW export controls for Central and Eastern European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States in Bucharest on Oct. 21-22 and Japan's plans to host a fourth Asian Export Control Seminar in Tokyo in early 1997 were warmly welcomed by participants. Argentina will also host a regional seminar on non-proliferation matters, in Buenous Aires, in the first week of December 1996. France will organize a seminar for French-speaking countries on the implementation of the CWC. This will take place shortly before entry into force of the Convention.
The meeting also discussed relevant aspects of terrorist interest in CBW and agreed that this serious issue requires continuing attention.
Participants agreed to hold further consultations in October 1997.
*The CWC is expected to come into operation in April 1997 or soon thereafter, 180 days after
the 65th instrument of ratification is deposited with the UN Secretariat in New York. The
number of ratifications currently stands at 64.
The countries participating in the Australia Group warmly welcomed the expected entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) during a meeting of the Group in Paris in October 1996. They noted that the long awaited commencement of the CWC regime, including the establishment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will be an historic watershed in global efforts to abolish chemical weapons for all time. They also noted that all states adhering to the CWC are obliged to ensure their national activities support the goal of a world free of chemical weapons.
All of the participating countries reiterated their previous statements underlining their intention to be among the original States Parties to the CWC. They noted that 24 of the 30 countries participating in the Australia Group have already ratified the Convention. Representatives also recalled their previous expressions of support for the CWC, and reaffirmed these commitments. They restated their view that the effective operation and implementation of the CWC offers the best means available to the international community to rid the world of these weapons for all time. They called on all signatories to ratify the CWC as soon as possible, and on the small number of countries which have not signed the Treaty to join the regime and thereby contribute to international efforts to ban these weapons.
Representatives at the Australia Group meeting recalled that all of the participating countries are taking steps at the national level to ensure that relevant national regulations promote the object and purpose of the CWC and are fully consistent with the Convention's provisions when the CWC enters into force for each of these countries. They noted that the practical experience each country had obtained in operating export licensing systems intended to prevent assistance to chemical weapons programs have been especially valuable in each country's preparations for implementation of key obligations under the CWC. They noted in this context, that these national systems are aimed solely at avoiding assistance for activities which are prohibited under the Convention, while ensuring they do not restrict or impede trade and other exchanges facilitated by the CWC.