Legislation, treaties and international agreements on the export of strategic goods

The Dutch government bases national legislation and national policy for export controls on agreements that are made in the context of the various international partnerships in this area.

The Netherlands’ international role

The Netherlands confers with its partners about existing EU legislation, and it is also a member of various international partnerships centred on particular issues such as nuclear technology, biological/chemical technology, ballistic-missile and drone technology and conventional military technology. The Netherlands is also party to a number of treaties, such as the UN Arms Trade Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Legislation and rules governing strategic goods

The most important legislation and rules that apply to the Netherlands when it comes to strategic goods and services are:

EU Regulation 428/2009 (Dual-Use Regulation)

EU Regulation 428/2009 sets out rules on export controls for dual-use goods which apply to all EU member states and apply directly to individuals and companies based within the Union. This regulation is also referred to as the Dual-Use Regulation. Annex I of this regulation contains a complete overview of dual-use goods that require a licence. 

EU Common Position on arms export controls

In the EU Common Position on arms export controls (2008/944/CFSP) of 8 December 2008, the EU member states reached an agreement on a set of minimum requirements that every national export control system must meet. The essence of this policy is a set of eight criteria, which are set out in the Common Position.

Strategic Goods Decree

The Strategic Goods Decree (link in Dutch) sets out additional national rules on trade in both dual-use and military goods. Among other things the Decree fleshes out certain provisions of the Dual-Use Regulation, for example with regard to the ad hoc licensing requirement.

Strategic Services Act

In addition to legislation governing the export and transshipment of military or dual-use goods and the import, export and transshipment of ‘torture goods’, there are also rules on providing technical advice or arranging the sale of strategic goods. The Strategic Services Act (link in Dutch) sets out in greater detail what services may and may not be provided. If a country is subject to an arms embargo, EU countries are not permitted to sell arms to that country. In such a case, Dutch companies or individuals are not permitted to offer technical advice either, pursuant to the Strategic Services Act.

Strategic Services Implementing Regulations

The Strategic Services Implementing Regulations (link in Dutch) fleshes out the provisions of the Strategic Services Act. Among other things these regulations contain a list of countries for which additional actions are expected from parties providing brokering services.     

General Customs Act

The General Customs Act (link in Dutch) contains general national rules on the transport of goods across the border.

Economic Offences Act

The Economic Offences Act (link in Dutch) deals with, among other things, criminal offences related to the export of strategic goods and set outs the penalties and non-punitive orders that may be incurred for violations of the Act.

General Customs Regulation (for goods covered by the Anti-Torture Regulation)

Among other things the General Customs Regulation criminalises violations of the Anti-Torture Regulation related to the import, export and transshipment of ‘torture goods’.

Chemical Weapons Convention (Implementation) Act

The Chemical Weapons Convention (Implementation) Act (link in Dutch) implements the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Netherlands. The act makes it an offence to: 

  • develop;
  • produce;
  • store;
  • transfer;
  • possess;
  • use chemical weapons.

Read more about the trade in, production of and processing of chemicals (in Dutch).

International treaties on strategic goods and services

The Dutch government has ratified various international treaties on strategic goods and services:

  • Non-Proliferation Treaty

    The Non-Proliferation Treaty is a UN treaty that restricts the possession and development of nuclear weapons. It includes a list of goods and technologies that can be used to produce such weapons.
  • Chemical Weapons Convention

    The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.
  • Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

    The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons.
  • Arms Trade Treaty

    The UN Arms Trade Treaty sets international standards for the legal trade in conventional weapons and seeks to combat illegal trade.
  • Convention on Cluster Munitions

    The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions. At national level the Netherlands has also implemented the ban on investments in cluster munitions.
  • Ottawa Convention

    The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Convention prohibits the use, storage, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

International export control regimes on strategic goods

In international export control regimes, countries that are party to the regimes conclude agreements on managing the import, export and transit of certain strategic goods. The parties to these regimes draw up lists of goods to which export controls apply, and these lists are included, in their entirety, in the annex of the EU Dual-Use Regulation. Decisions taken in the context of these regimes are then incorporated into national legislation by the Netherlands, in some cases through EU legislation. The Netherlands is a member of all export control regimes:

  • Australia Group (AG)

    The Australia Group combats the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons.
  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

    The Missile Technology Control Regime regulates matters such as the export of missile components and components for unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

    The Nuclear Suppliers Group concludes agreements to prevent the proliferation of nuclear goods and technologies.
  • Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)

    The Wassenaar Arrangement includes agreements on export controls for military and dual-use goods.
  • Zangger Committee

    The Zangger Committee ensures that countries all interpret the nuclear export control policies under the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the same manner.