Disarmament and non-proliferation

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In short, proliferation means the spread of weapons, and disarmament means the effective elimination of weapons. Prevention and arms control are important to respond to a variety of current threats, including:

  • the development of nuclear programmes for military purposes;
  • the use of chemical weapons in certain conflict zones;
  • the humanitarian impact of the use of conventional weapons.

The export of arms and dual-use items is subject to controls. The aim is to prevent civilian goods being used for the production of weapons, or weapons being used to violate human rights.

In this section, you will find information and clarification on the Belgian approach, more specifically on:

The diagram below provides a concise overview of the dimensions of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Role of the European Union

Regional instability and conflict situations are often at the root of armament programmes. The European Union (EU) can play an important role in limiting these programmes by mobilising its conflict prevention and management instruments.

The EU recently adopted a new strategy against illicit firearms, small arms and light weapons. The EU also has a strategy against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, adopted in 2003.  

The "non-proliferation clause" must be included in any mixed agreement between the EU and a third country. This clause obliges the signatories to fulfil their non-proliferation obligations.

The EU regularly undertakes demarches regarding disarmament and non-proliferation, for example to persuade third countries to adhere to important arms control agreements such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-TestBan Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention.