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Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC)

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Apart from export control instruments, the Hague Code of Conduct adopted at a specially convened conference in 2002 is the only multilateral arms control mechanism to date aimed at creating an inventory of missile holdings.

The worldwide proliferation of missile systems – especially ballistic missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction – threatens regional stability and global security.

Medium-range missile is launched
Medium-range missile is launched© picture alliance / Photoshot

Increasing numbers of countries are becoming capable of developing missile systems. At the same time, the development, acquisition, possession and transfer of such military technology is not yet regulated by international law. Against this backdrop, the aim of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC), which is not binding under international law, is to curb the proliferation of ballistic missiles. The HCoC was opened for signature in the Hague in 2002. To date, 138 states have acceded to it, most recently India in June 2016.

Transparency and reporting obligations

The HCoC does not prohibit or restrict possession of military missile delivery technology, but does, however, require compliance with certain principles and confidence-building measures. The HCoC mainly prescribes transparency measures, particularly Pre-Launch Notifications (PLN) of missile launches and annual declarations on national missile policies. Furthermore, the HCoC contains a voluntary commitment by signatory States to curb the proliferation of military delivery systems through multilateral, bilateral and national measures.

The HCoC is the only multilateral arms control mechanism to date aimed at creating an inventory of missile holdings. So far, the HCoC has not been able to develop its full potential because major countries with access to missile delivery technology have not signed it. These include Brazil, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The positive development of the reporting conduct of HCoC signatory States in recent years is currently stagnating at a high level.

EU and Federal Government activity

Through both EU and bilateral channels the German Government is striving to persuade non‑subscribing States of the HCoC’s merits. At the 16th HCoC annual Regular Meeting in Vienna in May 2017, the Federal Government appealed to delegates to drive forward steps to promote the universal validity of the HCoC and the intensification of HCoC mechanisms.

Furthermore, Germany, within the framework of the EU, is promoting the HCoC’s internet-based information and communication mechanism (e-ICC), which facilitates secure and efficient communication between the signatory States.

In future the Federal Government will continue to press for the full implementation, universalisation and ongoing development of the HCoC.

An Immediate Central Contact (ICC) for the HCoC has been established at the Austrian Foreign Ministry:

www.hcoc.at

Documents:

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) (PDF, 11 KB)

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