International treaties and guidelines

There are several international treaties that regulate the worldwide proliferation of sensitive goods. These sensitive goods include high-risk biological agents.

The Netherlands has ratified several international treaties and follows a number of export control regimes. These treaties and regimes are aimed at regulating the worldwide proliferation of sensitive goods, such as military goods and dual-use items.

In relation to biosecurity, there are a number of international lists and overviews of biological agents, such as the ‘EU export control list’ and the ‘Australia Group List’. These lists specify the biological agents and technologies that require a licence for export outside the EU. In the context of the European CBRN Action Plan (EU, 2009), a single European CBRN list of agents is currently being drawn up to specify those agents for which EU countries will be taking additional measures with respect to preparedness and resilience. This European CBRN list of agents is expected to be very similar to the ‘EU export control list’. The Netherlands has been part of this Action Plan since 2009.

Australia Group List

The Australia Group is an informal forum of countries (currently 42, including the Netherlands) that together with the European Commission aims to minimise the risk of assisting chemical and biological weapon (CBW) proliferation during export and transport. This group does so by exchanging information about suspect shipments and by compiling a list of potentially suspect materials and agents (dual-use items).

The Australia Group is an important collaboration in the fight against the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. The group first met in 1985 on Australia’s initiative. The group’s aim is to make existing export controls more effective and to prevent the spread of biological and chemical weapons.
Key considerations in the formulation of participants’ export licensing measures are that:
• measures should be effective in impeding the production of chemical and biological weapons;
• measures must be practical and relatively easy to implement, and;
• measures should not impede the normal trade of materials and equipment used for legitimate purposes.
All countries participating in the Australia Group are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BTWC), and strongly support efforts under those Conventions to rid the world of chemical and biological weapons.

Link to the Australia Group website

BTWC

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) prohibits the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons. The convention also regulates the destruction of these weapons.

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was signed in 1972 by Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union and entered into force in 1975. The convention, which has been recognised and accepted by 173 countries, prohibits the possession and development of biological and toxin weapons. The BTWC was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production and use of an entire category of weapons. The treaty is still one of the cornerstones of the multilateral framework of non-proliferation and disarmament.

The BTWC’s Seventh Review Conference took place at the end of 2011. During this conference, chaired by the Netherlands, a plan of action was developed for the period until the next review conference in 2016. The Parties to the Convention strive to ensure that the BTWC remains a relevant instrument and that it can respond effectively to scientific, technological and political developments. The main topics in the plan of action are as follows:
• Developments in the field of science and technology;
• International collaboration and assistance;
• Improvements to national implementation of the Convention.

More information

Website van de BTWC

EU CBRN Action Plan

The main goal of the Action Plan on ‘Strengthening Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security in the European Union’ (the EU CBRN Action Plan) is to minimise the likelihood of CBRN incidents occurring.

In February 2008, the European Commission set up a CBRN Task Force to work on CBRN policy. Its final report of January 2009 provides the basis for the EU CBRN action plan. The main goal of CBRN policy is to minimise the threat and damage to the public from CBRN incidents. Some of the core measures to achieve these goals are:
• use of a risk-based approach to security;
• effective protection of CBRN materials;
• improved exchange of security-related information between Member States;
• further development of detection systems in the EU;
• provision of the necessary tools to manage CBRN incidents.

The CBRN Action Plan identifies three main fields of work:
• prevention, which as the focal point of activity should first involve the use of risk-assessment to prioritise high-risk CBRN materials, and then focus on the security and control of these materials and the related facilities;
• detection, which is seen as an essential supplement to prevention, as well as necessary for response. Consequently, detection systems should be set up within Member States and at the external borders of the Union. At EU level, minimum CBRN detection standards will be developed, testing and certification schemes will be established, and the exchanges of good practices will be enhanced;
• preparedness and response, for which the existing measures should be further developed, with particular attention given to emergency planning, information flows, modelling tools, and countermeasures.

More information:

Website CBRN-actieplan

CBRN-actieplan (pdf)

CBRN-actieplan Annex 1 (pdf)

EU dual-use Regulation (EC)

The European Union (EU) dual-use Regulation (EC) 428/2009, also known as the EU export control list, specifies the international arrangements and agreements that the EU Member States must take into consideration when licensing dual-use goods.

For reasons of international security, there are strict rules governing the export and transit of dual-use goods. These are based on the EU dual-use Regulation, also known as the EU export control list. This regulation states the various responsibilities for the export of dual-use goods to countries outside the EU. The export of dual-use goods to other EU countries does not require a licence. In principle, free movement of goods is allowed between these countries, provided that those goods have a clearly civilian use and form no threat to public health, safety or the environment.

The EU dual-use Regulation is intended to prevent exported dual-use goods from being used in weapons, or in machines used for making weapons. The export control is aimed at products used for the development and production of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The Regulation lists those items that are considered to be for dual use and that are therefore controlled goods. According to the Regulation (Article 2), these are items, including software and technology, which can be used for both civil and military purposes. ‘Export’ of items refers to: ‘transmission of software or technology by electronic media, including by fax, telephone, electronic mail or any other electronic means’. Controls on the transfer of technology do not apply to information in the public domain, nor to basic scientific research.

The list of dual-use goods has 10 categories, among which in category 1: materials, chemicals, microorganisms and toxins. This category names the following microorganisms and toxins:
1C351 (page 73) Human pathogens, zoonoses and ‘toxins’, as follows:
a) Viruses, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures,
b) Rickettsiae, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures
c) Bacteria, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures,
d) Toxins and sub-units of toxins
e) Fungi, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures.

1C352 (page 80) Animal pathogens, as follows:
a) Viruses, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures,
b) Mycoplasmas, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures.

1C353 (page 81) Genetic elements and genetically modified organisms, as follows:
a) Genetically modified organisms or genetic elements that contain nucleic acid sequences associated with pathogenicity of organisms specified in 1C351 a), 1C351 b), 1C351 c), 1C351 e), 1C352 or 1C354;
b) Genetically modified organisms or genetic elements that contain nucleic acid sequences coding for any of the ‘toxins’ specified in 1C351 d) or ‘sub-units of toxins’ thereof.

1C354 (page 82) Plant pathogens, as follows:
a) Viruses, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures,
b) Bacteria, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures,
c) Fungi, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of ‘isolated live cultures’ or as material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures.

For more information:

Dual-use Regulation (EC) no. 428/2009 (PDF)

User Guide on Strategic Goods and Services (PDF) (Dutch)

Dutch Government website: export control (Dutch)

Dutch Government website: dual-use goods (Dutch)

Dutch Government website: licence application (Dutch)

UN 1540

UN 1540 is the resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council. This resolution describes the provisions for preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Resolution UN 1540 recognises and affirms this threat. UN resolution 1540 was adopted by the United Nations Security Council in 2004. UN 1540 describes the provisions for preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. These provisions also apply to the means of delivery of such weapons, such as bombs, grenades, missiles and rockets.

An example of one of the provisions of UN 1540 is that all states must refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport or transfer nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. A non-State actor is an individual or entity who does not act under the lawful authority of any State in conducting activities related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The entire UN resolution 1540 can be found on the website of the United Nations or can be downloaded here as a pdf .