Implementation of Non-Proliferation Resolution Critical in Preventing Non-State Actors from Obtaining Weapons, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

SC/12182
22 December 2015
7597th Meeting (PM)

Implementation of Non-Proliferation Resolution Critical in Preventing Non-State Actors from Obtaining Weapons, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a global challenge and, therefore, the response had to be global, the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) stated as he briefed the Security Council today, stressing that it was much more economical to invest in preventing non-State actors obtaining those arms than dealing with the consequences of their use.

Róman Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain) told the 15-nation body that since his last briefing in June, there had been an increase in acts of extreme violence perpetrated by terrorists in almost every region of the world.  The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) had reported that there had been various attempts to smuggle nuclear materials by non-State actors.

Implementation had been going well, he said, but had been unequal, both geographically and thematically, he said.  While recalling the Committee’s work with regional organizations, he said it was also important that the industry sector understood the risks involved when producing materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction.

Resolution 1540 (2004) was supposed to be the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting that the coming year was to be a period of the comprehensive review of the resolution.  He told the Council that he hoped to finish that review by December 2016 with a view to adopt a more effective resolution and prevent materials for weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors.

In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed their concern that non-State actors, in particular terrorist groups, might acquire, manufacture or transport weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  The international community was urged to make every effort to ensure that such groups had no access to those arms.

While acknowledging that implementation of the resolution had been unequal geographically and thematically, Council members also stressed the need for more cooperation between the Committee, its Group of Exerts and subregional and regional organizations, with the representative of Chad remarking that cooperation with the African Union could bolster universal implementation of the resolution.

Also drawing attention to the burden the resolution put on small countries, the representative of Chile remarked that the resolution requested all States to do the same thing, but that all States were not equal.  Although many countries had submitted reports on measures adopted, he said that adoption did not necessarily mean implementation.

The representative of the Russian Federation said resolution 1540 (2004) obliged all States to establish national control systems to prevent weapons of mass destruction and related material from being acquired by non-State entities.  That was of crucial importance, as regional conflicts were being exploited by terrorists, a point confirmed by the challenge posed by the “Islamic State” and others in Syria and Iraq.  He emphasized that he was against attempts to “water down” the Committee’s role by transferring some of its functions to other national structures.

The representative of the United States said few efforts were more important than preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into terrorist hands.  The comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) should consider recommendations for closing gaps on biological and chemical security, export controls and proliferation financing, improving the assistance process so that more States could implement the resolution, developing better ways to engage with parliamentarians, civil society and others, and identifying priority tasks for the Committee to complete by the end of its mandate in 2021.

Then speaking as Council President for the month of December, she took leave of the outgoing non-permanent members of the Council — Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Jordan and Nigeria — highlighting their delegations’ respective achievements during their two-year tenure.

The representatives of Lithuania, New Zealand, Jordan, China, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Venezuela, France, Nigeria and Angola also spoke.

The meeting started at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 4:50 p.m.

Briefing

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said that since the last briefing in June, there had been an increase in acts of extreme violence perpetrated by terrorists in almost every region of the world.  Resolution 1540 (2004) was supposed to be the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction, yet there had not been compliance.  The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) had reported that there had been various attempts to smuggle nuclear materials by non-State actors.

Non-proliferation presented a global challenge and the response had to be global, he stressed.  It was much more economical to invest in preventing than dealing with the consequences.  It was hoped that by the end of 2016 a comprehensive review of the resolution would be achieved, with a view to adopt a more effective resolution and prevent materials for weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors.

Implementation meant interaction with the Committee, which had to receive national reports and voluntary plans of action, he went on to say.  The initial indications pointed to the fact that, although implementation had been going well, it was also unequal, geographically and thematically.  As well, there were still gaps and deficiencies in export controls.  Seventeen States had not yet submitted their implementation plans.  Noting that China had organized a course of training for all experts for the Asian Pacific region, he also commended Chile’s efforts to host a similar training course for the American region.

Another area of the Committee’s efforts was assistance for States which did not have the expertise to implement the resolution, he said, proposing a more regional approach.  The Committee had also cooperated with regional organizations, including, among others, the Organization of American States, and with the World Customs Organization, as well as with INTERPOL regarding early warning.  There had also been contacts with non-State groups.

Another aspect of the Committee’s work focused on transparency and outreach, he said.  It was important that the industry producing substances and materials understood the risks involved when producing materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction.  He noted the excellent cooperation of Germany in the Wiesbaden Process on the best way to share with the industrial sector various controls.  He also underscored the importance of outreach to the parliamentary world.

The coming year was an important one as it was a period of the comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004), he stated, adding that he was trying to finish the review by December 2016 with an aim for a more effective resolution.  Although implementation of the resolution was costly, it would be was more costly to deal afterwards with the consequences of the use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Statements

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), stressing that 2015 had been marked by extreme violence around the world, emphasized that the international community must do more to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into terrorist hands.  She urged greater synergies among Council subsidiary bodies and improved assistance to States.  The Committee should engage more actively with civil society, the private sector and academia.  For its part, Lithuania was building its national capacities and strengthening cooperation to stop trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material.  The Nuclear Security Centre for Excellence had expanded its regional and international outreach.  To implement resolution 1540 (2004), the Committee and its experts must continue to visit States, especially non-reporting States.  It should examine ways to facilitate matchmaking between assistance requests and available assistance, and should interact more closely with other bodies, such as the 1718 Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) welcomed progress made, including that more than 90 per cent of States had reported to the Committee.  Modalities for the resolution’s review had been approved and an action plan was being implemented.  Yet, more must be done towards universal implementation of that text.  The Committee should enhance its cooperation with international organizations in that regard.  He welcomed its outreach efforts, notably the industry seminar held in Germany and he encouraged the Republic of Korea and India to organize similar activities in 2016.  Cooperation with the African Union could bolster universal implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  More broadly, he said, the views of Africa and the African Union on peace and security matters must be considered if the Council genuinely wished to help the continent.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand), pointing to progress made over the past 10 years since the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), said it was commendable that 90 per cent of United Nations Member States had voluntarily submitted national reports on the text’s implementation.  In addition, the Group of Experts had collected an impressive amount of data which could be used to reveal trends in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to better identify risks.  However, there was a burden being placed on small States, including small island developing States, in implementing the resolution’s complex legal framework.  It was important to have pragmatic solutions, especially for States that did not produce or store relevant materials, while respecting the resolution’s legally binding nature.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said the Committee had been extremely active recently.  However, there had also been an increase of terrorist activity.  Terrorist organizations, with their growing military and financial means, controlled territories, which carried risks that they could have access to weapons of mass destruction.  Every effort must be made to ensure that those organizations had no access to those arms.  All countries had to implement 1540 (2004), the cornerstone of non-proliferation.  Jordan had done so, including efforts to prevent exports of relevant materials.  In close cooperation with the Group of Experts, Jordan had also submitted its third national report.  In Amman, her country had organized a seminar that had brought together numerous regional organizations and had determined priorities for and obstacles to implementing the resolution.  Expressing hope that the role of the Committee would grow, she urged that it step up cooperation with regional organizations, while noting that some countries did not have the means to implement the resolution.

SUN LEI (China) said the comprehensive review should strengthen analysis and identify progress and weak links in implementation, thus providing guidance to Member State to improve their capacity to prevent proliferation.  Member States should prohibit any non-State entities from developing, transporting and using weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, which was the core mandate of the resolution.  The Committee should not involve itself in other sensitive issues beyond the scope of the resolution.  It should also listen to the views of Member States.  Transparency in consultations and the review process should be maintained.  The comprehensive review should also enhance the assistance mechanism of the Committee.  Through the review, targeted measures should be taken to promote a greater role in assistance to meet the needs of countries, he said, noting that China had actively participated in the work of the Committee and had hosted a training course for experts of the Asian-Pacific region.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said the resolution was a vital part of the non-proliferation architecture; by monitoring implementation, the Committee acted as a safeguard of international peace and security.  He also said he looked forward to the presentation of the comprehensive review by the end of 2016.  As there was not yet universality of reporting, providing a first report was the best way for a country to start a dialogue on implementation.  He called on those remaining Member States to submit such a report.  The Committee’s decision to focus on regional implementation had borne fruit, citing a September regional workshop in East Africa.  Expanding regional approaches could improve security from proliferation risks.  The Committee must continue its proactive outreach, meeting with experts in science, academia, law making and industry.  State engagement was also vital and the United Kingdom was committed to the resolution’s preventative agenda.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said the establishment of precautionary measures to address the chemical, nuclear or biological threat was a collective responsibility incumbent on all States, welcoming the increase in measures taken by States to comply with the resolution.  Of 17 non-reporting States, three had begun to do so, thanks to the Committee’s engagement.  However, the current regime did not sufficiently address the potential use of weapons of mass destruction and related by technologies by terrorists and armed groups.  A renewed focus was needed if the Committee was to remain relevant.  On matching assistance requests with providers, she welcomed collaborative approaches to address such shortcomings.  She also expressed her support for the Committee’s outreach to INTERPOL and other such organizations, noting that on 15 and 16 June, Malaysia had organized a regional forum for non-proliferation and disarmament in which participants underscored the need for a strengthened architecture at the regional and subregional levels.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) said that the increase in extreme violence by terrorists had increased the need to strengthen coordination of national, subregional, regional and international measures.  The use of toxic chemicals by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and by Syria underscored the need to prevent terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  The best way to prevent that was the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.  He called on nuclear States to conduct policies to eliminate those arms.  The ultimate goal of resolution 1540 (2004) was for as many States as possible to adopt controls to prevent non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  The Committee had to improve assistance to those countries that needed support.

PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risks of those weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists were real.  The resolution required States to take measures to prevent that from occurring.  For 11 years, progress had been made in implementation and the majority of States had adopted measures for the resolution’s implementation.  An increasing number of international, subregional and regional organizations had adopted measures to implement the resolution as well, including the European Union.  However, despite success much remained to be done.  Given emerging technologies, Members States must enhance border controls and strengthen financial controls.  The comprehensive review must address those challenges, he said, while noting that implementation was unequal geographically and thematically.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said resolution 1540 (2004) signalled the Council’s determination to respond robustly to the threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  While the three relevant treaties addressed non-proliferation, they did not consider the possibility of those weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors.  No State was immune to such a threat.  Meeting that challenge required strengthened compliance with the resolution.  She welcomed the Committee’s collaboration with the African Union, INTERPOL, the Financial Action Task Force, and other such organizations, as well as training for national 1540 focal points.  For its part, Nigeria would support efforts to establish nuclear weapons free zones in areas where they did not exist, she said, urging States to maintain their commitments to implement resolution 1540 (2004).

VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) acknowledged the Committee’s work in 2015, including the holding of a seminar in China for the national focal points of South-East Asian countries, and its cooperation with the African Union to find technical assistance providers for African States.  The Committee should be a central coordinator of efforts to implement the resolution and determine the aims of assistance.  Resolution 1540 (2004) obliged all States to establish national control systems to prevent weapons of mass destruction and related material from being acquired by non-State entities.  That was of crucial importance, as regional conflicts were being exploited by terrorists, a point confirmed by the challenge posed by the “Islamic State” and others in Syria and Iraq.  His Government was against attempts to “water down” the Committee’s role by transferring some of its functions to other national structures.  The legal responsibility for implementing the resolution was borne by States.  The Russian Federation would cooperate with all partners, as the aims of the resolution were more pertinent than ever.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said the report from the Committee Chair contained relevant information.  However, the possibility that non-State actors might acquire, manufacture or transport weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and the possibility that a terrorist attack with any type of weapon of mass destruction might occur was concerning.  He noted that his country had worked with the Committee towards implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said resolution 1540 (2004) had been a milestone by which the international community under Chapter VII of the Charter had responded to the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors.  That possibility was still a matter of concern.  While progress in implementation had been made, more remained to be done.  Noting that the resolution requested all States to do the same thing, but that all States were not equal, he said many countries had submitted reports on measures adopted; however, adoption did not necessarily mean implementation.  As the challenges had changed, the Council had to consider a new mandate for the Experts Group.  There should also be a greater regional focus on implementation to address unequal resources and efforts.  In addition, financing for acquisition of weapons of mass destruction should be a matter of concern.  Chile would be hosting a training course for focus points of his region, he said, adding that it had also coordinated a retreat for the Working Group on International Monitoring and Implementation.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States), Council President, spoke in her national capacity, stating that few efforts were more important than preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into terrorist hands.  Progress had been made since 2004, with 90 per cent of States having reported on measures they had taken to implement the resolution.  While the Committee was backed by Chapter VII obligations, it had not relied on them, but had, instead, engaged with States to build a climate of non-proliferation.  The Committee was generally united on key issues.  For first time since 2010, the Committee had completed an assessment of States that had implemented the resolution.  It had worked to increase transparency and would soon publish its data on non-proliferation obligations.  It also had started to execute a plan to complete a second comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004).  That review should consider recommendations for closing gaps on biological and chemical security, export controls and proliferation financing, improving the assistance process so that more States could implement the resolution, developing better ways to engage with parliamentarians, civil society and others, and identifying priority tasks for the Committee to complete by the end of its mandate in 2021.

For information media. Not an official record.