The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons. It was triggered by the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984.
The group held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium, in September 1989. It now has 42 members. Delegations representing the members meet every year in Paris, France.
Members include all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members, the European Commission, all 28 member states of the European Union, Ukraine, and Argentina.
The name comes from Australia’s initiative to create the group. Australia manages the secretariat.
In 2002, the group took two important steps to strengthen export control.
The first was the “no-undercut” requirement, which stated that any member of the group considering making an export to another state that had already been denied an export by any other member of the group must first consult with that member state before approving the export.
The second was the “catch-all” provision, which requires member states to halt all exports that could be used by importers in chemical or biological weapons programs, regardless of whether or not the export is on the group’s control lists.
During a state visit to India in November 2010, US president Barack Obama announced US support for India’s bid for permanent membership to UN Security Council as well as India’s entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and Missile Technology Control Regime.