Wassenaar Arrangement


Founded in the Dutch town of the same name, in March 1994, this regime (operational from 1996) for controlling the export of sensitive goods (dual-use civil and military and certain military equipment) took over, but on very different legal and political bases, from the former Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Control (COCOM1) set up during the Cold War to prohibit the export of dual-use civilian technologies, divertable for other purposes soldiers to the Eastern Bloc countries.

At the end of the Cold War, members of the COCOM control regime recognized that the angle of that regime was no longer an appropriate basis for export control. There was a need to establish a new arrangement to address the risks to regional and international security and stability associated with the spread of conventional weapons and dual-use items and technology. On December 16, 1993, in The Hague, the representatives of the 17 States parties to COCOM agreed at a high-level meeting on the dissolution of COCOM and the establishment of a new multilateral arrangement, provisionally called the “New Forum ”.

The "New Forum" brought together around the 17 member states of COCOM, six other states (Austria, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland). The official decision to create the Wassenaar Arrangement was taken on December 19, 1995, in a declaration signed by the 28 participants of the "New Forum", which had welcomed Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic shortly before. and the Russian Federation.

The first meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement took place in Vienna on December 12 and 13, 1996. In the meantime, Argentina, Korea and Romania, followed by Bulgaria and Ukraine had joined the preparatory work for the birth of this new control system, bringing the number of founding members to 33.

The Wassenaar Arrangement today has 42 members:
South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, United States, Finland, Greece France, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania , Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, United Kingdom, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. The latest membership is that of India (December 2017).

The Wassenaar Arrangement has a permanent Secretariat, headquartered in Vienna.


The Wassenaar Arrangement is the only multilateral forum for the control of exports of conventional weapons and war materials, and related dual-use goods and technology. Its main objective is to promote "transparency, exchanges of views and information, as well as greater responsibility in the transfer of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies, in order, ultimately, to prevent excessive accumulations "

Is considered war material

Any system, sub-assembly, equipment or component specifically designed or modified for military use, in particular:

  • weapons, their ammunition and their carriers;
  • the sub-assemblies and spares of these war materials, as well as materials specially designed or modified for their manufacture, their environment and their maintenance;
  • particularly sensitive goods (cryptology, war toxicants and their most important precursors, main materials or products controlled under the missile technology control regime).

Fall under the category of so-called "dual-use" goods and technologies (BDU)

"Goods, equipment - including technologies, software, intangible or intangible know-how - capable of having both civil and military use or which may - wholly or in part - contribute to development, production, handling , operation, maintenance, storage, detection, identification, dissemination of conventional military capabilities, the proliferation of which would run counter to the objectives of the Wassenaar Arrangement.


The work of the Arrangement is organized around three main groups:

  • The Technical Expert Group (WA-EG) is responsible for proposing the annual updating of the Arrangement’s checklists. It meets at least twice a year, in spring and autumn, for two-week sessions;
  • The General Working Group (WA-GWG) is responsible for studying political issues. It also meets twice a year, after the group of experts (in May and October);
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  • The Plenary Assembly (WA-PLM) takes the decisions proposed by the different groups. It meets in December of each year. In 2017, France assumed the presidency of the AW Plenary Assembly https: //onu-vienne.delegfrance.org / .... Since January 2020, Croatia has presided over the Wassenaar Arrangement, succeeding Greece.

Other groups, regular or occasional, are responsible for specific or circumstantial work:

  • The group of officials responsible for implementing control (WA-LEOM) meets in June;
  • The Vienna Contact Points Group (WA-VPOC), responsible for preparing administrative and budgetary questions to be debated in GWG, meets biennially;
  • The Awareness Group (WAOG) prepares, for the attention of the GWG, questions relating to the dissemination of the principles and good practices of the Arrangement (“outreach”) or the extension of the Arrangement to new States .

Finally, the Wassenaar Arrangement draws up guides to best practices, of voluntary application, intended to better take into account certain specific themes carrying risks with regard to regional or international security.

Since June 4, 2011, Ambassador Philip Griffiths has been the head of the Wassenaar Arrangement Secretariat designated by the participating states. In December 2019, his mandate was renewed for two and a half years until January 1, 2023. Previously New Zealand’s ambassador to Austria, he succeeded Ambassador Sune Danielsson, a Swedish national, who held this position since 2002.

State commitments

The legally informal nature of the Wassenaar Arrangement rests on a political commitment expressed in initial elements and additional texts or declarations adopted unanimously by the participating States. All decisions within the Wassenaar Arrangement are made by consensus.

In addition to their participation in the annual updating of export control lists for conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technology, the members of the Wassenaar Arrangement undertake to:

  • Follow the "guidelines", "elements" and "best practices" adopted by the Arrangement;
  • Control under their national legislation the export of goods appearing on the military list and the dual-use list of the Agreement;
  • Account, for the sake of transparency, of transfers of conventional armaments and dual-use items deemed sensitive, and of refusals to transfer dual-use items in general;
  • Exchange information on exports of highly sensitive dual-use goods and technologies.

Since Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2000 of June 22, 2000, regularly updated, which establishes a Community regime for the control of exports of dual goods and technologies, the principles of export control and the list of dual goods and technologies controlled use, as defined by the Wassenaar Arrangement, is binding on all member states of the European Union.

France and the Wassenaar Arrangement

Founding member of the Wassenaar Arrangement since its creation in 1996, France is continuing in this context its efforts to ensure that the control of exports of dual-use goods and technologies as well as that of war materials and similar is adapted to new forms of conflictuality, technological developments, security needs, the progression of technology mastery by non-member countries.

For this, several ministries and departments contribute directly to the provision of technical expertise during the work of the various technical groups of the Wassenaar Arrangement: ministries of armies (Directorate-General for Armaments, Directorate-General for International Relations and Strategy, Services), Economy and Finance (Dual-use Goods Services), Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Services (General Secretariat for Defense and National Security).

In addition to their significant contribution to the annual work of updating the checklists, the French experts also participate in the preparation of best practice guides, also taking the initiative of new proposals. In 2020, France will update the best practice guide to prevent destabilizing transfers of small arms and light weapons (SALW) by air, originally adopted in 2007.

France, like all the member states of the European Union, applies the Arrangement’s checklists in its national regulations on the export of military goods and dual-use goods:

• War materials and similar materials are subject to the general principle of prohibition without prior authorization and control by the State. The EU common position of 2008 defines the common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment, it was modified by Council Decision 2019/1560 of September 16, 2019. The common list of military equipment of the EU takes up the military list of the Wassenaar Arrangement.
By the amended decree of June 27, 2012, France takes up the common list of EU military equipment, supplemented by specific provisions relating to satellites and spacecraft and launchers when they are designed for military use or when their characteristics give them military capabilities. This decree is amended annually to take into account the modifications to the military list of the Wassenaar arrangement.

• The list of dual-use goods in the Arrangement is transposed in Community Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009, establishing a Community regime for the control of exports, transfers, brokerage and transit of dual-use goods. It is updated annually (last modification by Commission Regulation 2019/2199 of October 17, 2019). The dual-use list includes the dual-use goods of the Wassenaar Arrangement but also of the missile technology control regime (RCTM / MTCR), the nuclear suppliers group (GFN / NSG) and the Australia group (chemical and biological).

Dernière modification : 25/03/2020

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