Vienna, 20 June 2003 - From 23 to 25 June 2003 the Vienna International Centre will be the venue of the first conference of the signatory states of The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) held at the political and technical experts’ level. The Hague Code of Conduct is a politically binding agreement for the mutual exchange of information on missile launches and space programmes which was passed at the relevant conference held in the Netherlands in November 2002.
The adoption of this agreement closed a gap in the international arms control system, since ballistic missiles can be used as launch systems for weapons of mass destruction. To date 106 states have joined the Hague Code of Conduct. Thus countries from all continents are contributing to the confidence-building measures provided for in the agreement, such as informing all partner countries of planned missile launches. Nevertheless, huge efforts still have to be undertaken in order to convince all those countries which have not yet joined the agreement of its goals and the importance of signing the Hague Code of Conduct.
In November 2002 Austria was mandated by the then more than 100 signatory states with the task of acting as a central contact for the Hague Code of Conduct and thus as an interface for the entire information exchange process. Hence, the Vienna conference will mainly deal with the technical aspects of information sharing. The goal is to determine safe, fast and economical means of communication between the immediate central contact in Vienna and the national contact points spread all over the globe, thus also contributing to the promotion of international security. Another item on the meeting’s agenda is to discuss ways and means of jointly addressing the UN General Assembly, including procedures for involving countries which have not yet joined the Code of Conduct.
The fact that this conference is being held at the headquarters of the HCOC Secretariat in Vienna also represents a huge success for Austria, whose foreign policy has always focused on the promotion of multilateral solutions and transparent international cooperation based on mutual confidence and trust.