HCoC – The Hague Code of Conduct
The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) is the only multilateral transparency and confidence building instrument concerning the spread of ballistic missiles. It was established with active support from France, in a universal perspective.
The initiative started in 2000 and gave birth, in 2002, to the project of a Code of Conduct. This non-binding instrument establishing transparency and confidence building measures in order to combat ballistic proliferation is supported by the European Union (EU) and by about thirty partner States (in particular the member States of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)).
For the 143 signatory States to the HCoC, subscribing to this Code – the only one with a universal perspective – is a strong political gesture towards the reinforcement of international peace and security, in a global context of growing threat due to the proliferation of weapons of massive destruction, be it in Iran, North Korea or Syria. Endeavours for the Code’s universalisation and full implementation must carry on this initial gesture; the Code’s Presidency is the main actor for this.
The European Union is the most active regional institution in this respect. In July 2012, the EU Council adopted a decision to support HCoC not only in high-level policies, but also by providing funds to promote this text.
Preventing and combating the proliferation of ballistic missiles that could carry weapons of massive destruction;
Contributing to strengthening and improving the adoption of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms;
Enhancing regional and international security and stability;
Building and strengthening confidence and transparency and reassuring the international community on the pacific intention of States.
As a multilateral confidence and transparency instrument, HCoC works on a voluntary basis. By adopting the Code, the signatory States commit to comply with confidence and transparency measures regarding space and ballistic activities, among others by providing pre-launch notifications and by submitting to all signatory States an annual declaration on space and ballistic activities.
On a multilateral level, HCoC is chaired for one year by a Member State. An ordinary session is held once a year in Vienna at the end of May; the Chairmanship organises additional consultative sessions. Canada is the incumbent Chair, following Peru in this position. Austria (through its Foreign Office) serves as the Code of Conduct’s Secretary.
HCoC is the subject of a biannual resolution of the United Nations General Assembly – the last one was adopted at the end of 2018 by the General Assembly’s 1st Commission.