The Australia Group is an informal arrangement of 43 countries (including The Netherlands) which aims to allow exporting countries to minimise the risk of assisting chemical and biological weapon (CBW) proliferation. The Group meets annually to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of participating countries’ national export licensing measures to prevent would-be proliferators from obtaining materials for CBW programs.

The Australia Group is an important partnership in the fight against the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. In 1985 the participants of the Australian-initiative partnership came together for the first time. The aim of the cooperation is to improve the effectiveness of export control and to prevent the spread of biological and chemical weapons.

Key considerations in the formulation of participants’ export licensing measures are:

  • they should be effective in impeding the production of chemical and biological weapons;
  • they should be practical, and reasonably easy to implement, and
  • they should not impede the normal trade of materials and equipment used for legitimate purposes.

All states participating in the Australia Group are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and strongly support efforts under those Conventions to rid the world of CBW.