Disarmament & non-proliferation


The development of nuclear programmes for military purposes, the use of chemical weapons by state and non-state actors in certain conflict zones or the issue of the diversion of conventional weapons are all threats underlining the importance of prevention and control in the field of armament.

Belgium considers international security as one and indivisible. This implies that in the field of disarmament we have to make progress regarding conventional as well as non-conventional weapons. Since non-proliferation and disarmament are inextricably linked, Belgium adopts a global approach, striving for balanced progress in both domains.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Top of the international security agenda is the definition of a results-oriented response to the threat posed by the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) both by states and non-state actors, including terrorist groups.

These WMD or non-conventional weapons are intended to cause a large number of victims and to inflict a lot of damage. They are characterized by their non-discriminatory nature and their long-term effects. The following types of weapons are considered to be WMD:

  • Nuclear
  • Biological
  • Chemical

Given the fact that the threats related to WMD are not limited to a national territory, Belgium considers it a necessity to tackle these threats in a regional context. The current major dossiers such as Iran or North – Korea prove this point. They demand constant attention and continuous efforts to find diplomatic solutions.

An effective multilateral approach offers the best response to such challenges. Common positions agreed by the European Union (EU) are particularly relevant because they greatly enhance the impact of our efforts. This is borne out by the implementation of the EU’s strategy on Weapons of Mass Destruction, which was adopted in 2003 and has currently reached cruising speed.

Conventional weapons

The threat of WMD must not make us forget that we still face some major challenges in the domain of “human security”. The key issue here is personal security of human beings, often the most vulnerable, both during and after conventional conflicts. In many countries - and definitely in Africa and Central America - the threat posed by WMD is overshadowed by everyday dramas caused by clashes involving the use of conventional arms.

With this in mind, Belgium’s diplomatic service endeavors to keep the issue of “human security” and “disarmament that saves lives” on top of the agenda of the main international institutions.  Belgium played a pioneering role in the implementation of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines and of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions as well as in the conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty; in the fight against illicit arms trade and in raising international attention for the issue of child soldiers.

A credible international security policy cannot ignore such problematic issues. Security is indivisible and therefore requires realistic, global investments and unwavering diplomatic efforts in the field of WMD and in the field of conventional weapons. The following scheme is a succinct graphic presentation of the approach.

 Click to enlarge (PDF, 47.6 KB)

Export control of strategic goods

The export of weapons and dual use goods is subject to control in order to safeguard international security and respect for human rights. Companies dealing in these strategic goods have to comply with strict rules.

In Belgium, the three Regional Authorities are responsible for issuing licenses for the import, export and transit of weapons, defence-related products and dual use goods, with the exception of licenses requested by the Belgian Armed Forces or the Federal Police.

The export of nuclear goods is subject to the prior authorization by the Federal minister of Energy, based on advice from the Belgian Advisory Committee on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.