The Encyclopedia is a project of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights launched on 2 December 2013. The Enyclopedia aims to provide accurate, up-to-date information on weapons, the effects of their use, and their regulation under public international law, in a format that is accessible to non-specialists.+ Find out more
This non-binding document seeks to guide states participating in the 1995 Wassenaar Arrangement in their determination of what constitute ‘destabilising accumulations’ of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons. It is therefore formulated as a list of questions.
When the 1996 Initial Elements were agreed, states were not yet able to agree on detailed criteria for authorising or not arms exports. Paragraph II.5 of the Initial Elements instead stated that:
Participating States agree to work expeditiously on guidelines and procedures that take into account experience acquired. This work continues and will include in particular a continuing review of the scope of conventional arms to be covered with a view to extending information and notifications beyond the categories described in Appendix 3 [indicative list for exchanging information on arms].
It would take another two years of negotiations for the Elements to be agreed.
The Elements outline a set of questions that can be used to determine what are ‘potentially destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons’. They are of a non-binding character; decisions on export remain the sole prerogative of individual states.
Last updated on: 08 August 2017