Multilateral Export Control
In the nuclear field there is on the one hand the Zangger Committee (ZC), which focuses on a joint interpretation of the provisions on material and pieces of equipment in terms of Article III of the NPT, and on the other hand there is the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which developed export guidelines starting in 1974. With the admission of Belarus, these two groups now have 38 and 46 members respectively. ZC and NSG operate control lists of sensitive nuclear goods and pieces of equipment.
The Australia Group (AG) fulfils a similar role in the field of chemical and biological weapons. The main function of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR, 34 members) is to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles (i.e. missiles that are guided during the first flight phase and that are subject to the laws of gravitation in the final flight phase) in particular with a view to ballistic missiles acting as unmanned carriers for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The main goal of the Vienna-based Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) is peacekeeping through increased transparency and through prevention of destabilising accumulations of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies by means of voluntary exchange of information.
The primary goal of all five export control regimes is to prevent through coordination of national export controls the deviation of sensitive technology and know-know into the hands of states that might use them for military purposes (non-proliferation). The main instruments of these regimesare lists with relevant goods and substances as well as guidelines regarding export of such goods and substances into non-member states. Austria participates in all five export control regimes and mainly implements its commitments through the Foreign Trade Act.
National export control of conventional military goods
The legal basis for export control of military goods by the Austrian authorities are the Foreign Trade Act 2011 (BGBl I 26/2011) - as special law for war material – the Act on War Material (BGBl I 540/1977 as amended by BGBl I 50/2005). The military goods which are controlled are defined on the one hand by the Austrian Regulation on Foreign Trade with its addenda which in turn are based on the „Wassenaar control list“ and the EU-list of military goods, and the Austrian Regulation on War Material on the other hand.
The decision on licences according to the Foreign Trade Act is taken by the Ministry for the Economy, Youth and Family, on licence applications according to the War Material Act decisions are taken by the Ministry of the Interior in accordance with the Ministry for European and International Affairs and after consulting the Ministry for Defence and Sport. The Ministry for European and International Affairs is involved in the application of both laws by evaluating licence applications according to foreign policy aspects and international law. (§ 24 Abs. 1 in conjunction with 5 Abs.1 Foreign Trade Act and § 3 Abs.1 Act on War Material) and under reference to Common Position 2008/944/CFSP (of 8. Dec. 2008). All relevant EU-documents including the EU-reports for individual years are available on the EEAS homepage.
Arms Trade Treaty
In December 2009 the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 64/48, convening a four-week diplomatic conference to conclude a legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The aim of the treaty is to determine the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. The treaty shall contribute to combat and respectively limit the negative consequences of illicit and irresponsible arms trade on stability, security and human rights. The treaty shall thus foster sustainable economic and development policies.
Together with its EU partners, Austria has strongly supported the ATT process within the framework of the United Nations. By supporting the ATT process, Austria pursues its traditional commitment to disarmament, arms control as well as to the strengthening of international humanitarian law. Austria advocates a strong ATT, notably with regard to best possible standards, within the context of the United Nations and at European and bilateral level. These standards shall include in particular binding licensing criteria reflecting human rights norms, a universal scope of the treaty as well as efficient implementation mechanisms.
On 2 April 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted the ATT-text (154 Yes-, 3 No-votes and 23 abstentions). The text was drawn up a a Conference of States Parties which was mandated by the UN General Assembly and held in New York from 18. - 28. March 2013 presided by the Australian Ambassador for Disarmament, Woolcott. The negotiations were based on a draft text which was presented by the Chairman of the Conference of States Parties in July 2012, Amb. Moritan. The adoption of the ATT-text by the Conference of States Parties by consensus on 28. March 2013 was prevented by Iran, North-Korea and Syria. In the vote in the UN General Assembly China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Egypt and the majority of the Arab states abstained. The Treaty will be open for signature from 3 June 2013 in New York and it will enter into force with the 50th instrument of ratification deposited with the UN Secretary General.
The adoption of the ATT constitutes a historic success. For the first time international rules for the transfer of conventional arms are being set. Arms exports will be prohibited in such cases where there are grave violations of International Humanitarian Law and human rights. By decisions on export applications parameters such as the risk of diversion, corrupt practices and gender based violence have to be taken into account. The Treaty contains provisions on transparency, it can be amended by qualified majority.
Austria in line with EU partners and other supporters of ATT will interpret the provisions of the Treaty in a spirit of high standards. According to the Austrian view munitions, parts and components as well as gifts and loans are covered by the Treaty. serious violations of human rights will not be weight against other parameters. The requirement to report will be interpreted in the sense that aggregate data has to be made publicly available. The higher standards followed by Austria and EU partners will not be negatively affected by ATT.