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The Australia Group: challenges and future directions [WP1143]


In association with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London; The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Ottawa; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague


26 years after its inception, the Australia Group now represents the de-facto global standard for best practice controls on CBW-related chemicals and biological materials, dual-use equipment and technology.  Its membership has expanded, from sixteen states to forty (plus the European Union), and many countries outside the Group have chosen to conform to the Group’s principles and control lists.

However, many of today’s largest producers and suppliers of chemicals, biological agents and dual-use equipment are not currently members of the Group.  What are the implications of this for the effectiveness of the Group in meeting its main objective: preventing the spread of technologies and materials that could assist states of concern and terrorist groups in obtaining or developing chemical and biological weapons?

This invitation-only conference examined the role and function of the Australia Group in the context of global counter-proliferation efforts, with particular reference to the Biological and the Chemical Weapons Conventions.  It canvassed options for the Group’s evolution to take account of the emergence of major suppliers/producers who are not members of the Group, and explore the potential for the Group to be more targeted in its outreach efforts.  The conference also considered ways of strengthening the Group in its task of preventing CBW proliferation by assessing emerging trends and challenges.

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