Cooperation, National Reporting Critical to Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction Out of Terrorist Hands, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

SC/12753
16 March 2017
7900th Meeting* (AM)

Cooperation, National Reporting Critical to Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction Out of Terrorist Hands, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

Despite the efforts of States, the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands remained high, speakers told the Security Council today, calling for improved synergies among stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, to bolster the non-proliferation regime at the global, regional and national levels.

Briefing the Council, Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said the body intended to build on momentum generated by the adoption of resolution 2325 (2016).  While the work programme for 2017 would enable significant progress to be made towards more effective implementation of States’ obligations, a clear understanding of challenges was needed.

To achieve universal reporting, it was critical to encourage the remaining 16 Member States that had not yet submitted their first report to do so, he continued, encouraging States to submit additional information on the resolution’s implementation, strengthen national capacities, identify and report effective national efforts, and share best practices.

He said there were various means to request formal assistance for capacity-building, noting that such help could be provided by both States and international organizations.  The Committee was revising its assistance template to better support States in developing more detailed and effective assistance requests.

Stressing that cooperation was a key element in promoting implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said the national 1540 contacts acted as national focal points in that regard.  There were also other ways to contribute.  Pakistan, for example, had hosted a regional 1540 seminar to promote awareness of the text, highlight national efforts and identify challenges.

In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed concern that non-State actors, particularly terrorist groups, were likely to acquire, manufacture or use weapons of mass destruction.  Many urged the international community to make every effort to ensure that such weapons did not fall into their hands.

While acknowledging that implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) had been unequal geographically and thematically, several stressed the need for more cooperation among the Committee, regional organizations and Member States.  In that vein, Ethiopia’s representative welcomed the regional dimension of the Committee’s work programme, expressing hope that the body would enhance cooperation with the African Union and strengthen the regional non-proliferation network.  Egypt’s delegate similarly underscored the regional nature of the threat, expressing concern that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had used chemical weapons inside and outside of Syria.

Uruguay’s representative said resolution 1540 (2004) was the main legally binding instrument to prevent non-State actors from acquiring chemical and biological weapons.  It played a preventive role by boosting transparency and cooperation among Member States.  China’s delegate, emphasizing that non-proliferation was a complex issue that included elements of historical grievances and terrorism, said the way forward lay in shaping a security architecture built by all, for all.

The United States representative, expressing concern about recent developments in Malaysia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said ballistic missile launches by the latter country posed a significant threat to the international community.  Also alarming was the use of biological and chemical weapons by non-State actors.  Improved communication and coordination among States was required to prevent the provision of assistance, expertise and technology to terrorist groups.

In such work, States should be guided by the principle of “do no harm,” said the representative of the Russian Federation.  Given ongoing activities in Iraq and Syria, where terrorist groups had mastered the technology of such weapons, prevention had become an urgent matter for the international community.

The representatives of Japan, Italy, Ukraine, Senegal, Kazakhstan, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom also spoke.

The meeting started at 11:05 a.m. and adjourned at 12:15 p.m.

Briefing

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTI SOLIZ (Bolivia), Chair of the 1540 Committee, said it intended to build on the momentum generated by the adoption of the resolution 2325 (2016).  The work programme for 2017 would enable significant progress towards more effective implementation of the obligations under resolution 1540 (2004).  In that regard, a clear understanding of the challenges faced by States was needed.  In accordance with operative paragraph 11, it was essential to take into account States’ ability to manufacture and export related materials.  The Committee’s next interaction would take place next week, he said, adding that a delegation would visit El Salvador to support the development of a voluntary national implementation action plan.

To achieve universal reporting, it was critical to encourage the remaining 16 Member States that had not yet submitted their first report to do so, he said.  Equally important was to encourage Member States to submit additional information on the resolution’s implementation, strengthen national capacities, identify and report effective national practices, and share best practices.

He said there were various means to request formal assistance for capacity building, noting that such help could be provided by States and international organizations.  Since 2004, 56 States and two regional organizations had requested assistance through the Committee.  The Commission was revising its assistance template in order to better support States in developing more detailed and effective assistance requests.  It would also consider ways to better provide assistance, especially as a real-time response to requests made during dialogue with States, such as through securing and using additional resources.  The Committee also planned to review all requests, offers and related assistance programmes for more effective matching strategies.

Stressing that cooperation among States was a key element in promoting effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said the national 1540 contacts acted as national focal points in that regard.  Ninety nine States had submitted their 1540 points of contact to the Committee.  The body supported initiatives taken by some States to host training courses for national contacts.

States had made important contributions in other ways, too, he said, citing a regional 1540 seminar hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad, where representatives from 15 States of Central, East and South Asia, and international organizations had participated.  That seminar had been an opportunity to promote awareness of resolution 1540 (2004) among the policymakers, highlighting national efforts and identifying challenges.  It had also helped to identify opportunities for collaboration on the resolution’s implementation, law enforcement export controls and matching assistance needs with offers.

Statements

TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) said the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had not subsided.  Missile testing by the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea was an act of provocation and he urged that country to fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.  The use of chemical weapons in Syria also had demonstrated the dangers of weapons proliferation in that individuals and entities could become complicit in such activities.  Therefore, implementing resolution 1540 (2004) was critical.  As proliferation was most likely to occur at the weakest link, he called on States to strengthen their non-proliferation systems, and to bolster the non-proliferation regime at the global, regional and national levels.

LIU JIEYI (China) said non-State actors were more likely to acquire weapons of mass destruction, urging the international community to come together to enhance global security.  The issue of non-proliferation was complex and included elements of historical grievances and terrorism.  The way forward lay in shaping a security architecture built by all, for all.  Enhancing the sense of security for all countries and eliminating hotbeds of terrorism would further strengthen the non-proliferation regime.  Every effort must be made to prevent non-State actors — not least, terrorists — from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  All parties must also remain committed to maintaining peace and defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  They must build trust and take a multipronged approach to implementing resolution 1540 (2004), he added.

VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said non-proliferation was a military and political priority for his country, emphasizing the need for joint efforts to achieve that aim.  It was critical to ensure that weapons of mass destruction did not fall into the hands of terrorist groups.  Expressing support for resolution 1540 (2004) and its preventive character, he said Member States must sustain the momentum while being careful about steps taken.  “We should be guided by not to do any harm,” he declared, noting that, given the ongoing activities in Iraq and Syria, where terrorist groups had mastered the technology of such weapons, prevention had become an urgent matter for the international community.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said resolution 1540 (2004) was a crucial instrument in preventing nuclear proliferation and the acquisition of related weapons by non-State actors.  Greater capacity-building and intense cooperation at the national, regional and global levels would help States achieve meaningful results, he said, emphasizing the key role to be played by academia and civil society organizations in that regard.  Expressing concern about the risks of terrorist groups, such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he said that while rapid scientific advances brought benefits, they also led to potential misuse.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) welcomed the regional dimension of the work programme that enabled regional organizations to contribute to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He expressed hope that the Committee would enhance its cooperation with the African Union and further strengthen the regional non-proliferation network.  He reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to work with the Committee Chair and Security Council members in ensuring the full implementation of resolutions 1540 (2004) and 2325 (2016).  Ethiopia would continue to engage effectively with the political mission supporting implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said 2016 had marked significant progress in work to advance the non-proliferation regime.  Conclusions and recommendations from the 2016 review of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) could help identify where national and regional efforts should be intensified.  The risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands remained high.  Despite States’ efforts to reduce such risks, the danger had increased, due to the rapid development of technology and e-commerce.  Building synergies among all stakeholders including among non-governmental organizations was important.  There had been confirmed cases of weapons use by non-State actors, he said, stressing the need to hold all perpetrators accountable.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) said the growing threat of terrorism and the risk that non-State actors could acquire chemical and biological weapons was extremely concerning.   The main legally binding instrument to fight that threat was resolution 1540 (2004), which played a preventive role by boosting transparency and cooperation among Member States.  Encouraging the Committee to promote discussion, he said greater assistance and coordination at the international, regional, subregional and national levels was vital.  Recalling that Member States were obliged to respect international law, he said Uruguay would continue to develop a national action plan to implement resolution 1540 (2004).

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) acknowledged the Committee’s essential role in preventing the weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non-State actors.  The ongoing review of the Committee offered an opportunity to focus on Member States’ strategic choices, to strengthen cooperation with civil society, academia and judicial bodies, and to share best practices.  At the regional level, the African Union had been active, he said, pointing to a number of meetings held.  Expressing support for the establishment of national focal points, he invited Member States with resources to provide assistance to those in need.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said the Committee must be able to respond to ongoing challenges with its expanded mandate.  Kazakhstan, as a strong supporter of the non-proliferation regime, encouraged all Member States to strictly comply with resolution 1540 (2004).  It was essential to support and strengthen United Nations efforts, while also taking into account the specificities of each State.  The provision of financial resources, as well as improved transparency and outreach activities would contribute to current efforts, he added.

SEIF ALLA YOUSSEF KANDEEL (Egypt) said it was critical to prevent non-State actors, especially terrorist groups, from manufacturing, acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction.  That was a regional challenge for Egypt, he said, expressing concern that Da’esh had used chemical weapons inside and outside of Syria.  To strengthen the non-proliferation regime, he emphasized the need to respect State sovereignty and provide technical assistance to those requesting it.  The goal was to improve the implementation of resolution of 1540 (2004) in coordination with the Committee’s Panel of Experts.

MARIE AUDOUARD (France) expressed concern over the availability, testing and use of weapons of mass destruction in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria.  It was important to step up the commitment to resolution 1540 (2004) by joining efforts to combat proliferation.  Despite undeniable progress since the adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), much remained to be done.  Cooperation among States was essential in the crackdown on financing for weapons of mass destruction and in strengthening export controls.  France stood ready to improve effectiveness of regional mechanisms, she said, adding that the European Union played a major role in promoting the non-proliferation regime in the region and beyond.

CHRISTOPHER KLEIN (United States) said resolution 1540 (2004) provided a crucial foundation for combating the use of weapons of mass destruction.  Expressing concern about recent developments in Malaysia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said ballistic missile launches by the latter country posed a significant threat to the international community.  Also alarming was the use of biological and chemical weapons by non-State actors, he said, emphasizing the need for improved communication and coordination among States to prevent the provision of assistance, expertise and technology to terrorist groups.  On outreach and transparency efforts, he said the United States had recently organized an essay contest on international peace and security in which students from 44 countries had participated.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said the threat from non-State actors was real, expressing concern over chemical weapons use in Syria and Iraq.  The international community must not limit its vigilance, he added, emphasizing that knowledge and information were important factors in the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.  The importance of the issue — often called intangible transfers of technology — was reflected in resolution 2325 (2016) and the Committee’s work programme.  He commended the Group of Experts for its outreach at the regional and subregional levels, stressing that Sweden was committed to the objective of resolution 1540 (2004) to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery by non-State actors.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said today’s meeting had shown that the Council was united in work to prevent nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists.  It was not a hypothetical threat, he cautioned, pointing to Iraq, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria, where it had been proven that Da’esh and the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons.  As nuclear proliferation threats were evolving, the international community must be adaptable to stop the spread of weapons.  Effective national control lists constituted a step in that direction, he said, underscoring the need to work collaboratively and to support countries in the development of those lists.

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*     The 7899th Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.