National Action Plans Can Help States Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

SC/13742
19 March 2019
8487th Meeting (AM)

National Action Plans Can Help States Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

To keep terrorists from accessing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, Governments can deploy a range of measures, such as devising national action plans, designating point persons and conducting peer reviews, speakers told the Security Council today as it considered non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Briefing members, Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), emphasized that significant progress has been made on implementation of that text.  To date, 182 countries have submitted initial reports, an increasing number have conducted peer reviews and 105 have designated national points of contact in charge of coordinating implementation, he said, adding that one helpful step would be for States to develop voluntary national implementation action plans.

However, he cautioned, funding for the Committee’s group of experts is limited due to the prevailing financial challenges confronting the United Nations.  For instance, contracts for its Panel of Experts were only issued for four months, he pointed out, emphasizing that, unless the situation is addressed, the Committee will face serious challenges in fulfilling its mandate before it expires in April 2021.

Council members agreed, with many expressing support for the Committee’s efforts and offering suggestions for further improvements.  The representative of the United States called upon the Secretariat to ensure that the Committee and its Panel of Experts have the required resources to recruit the best personnel to ensure full implementation of the resolution.  Noting that his country’s Government has provided more than $4 million to the 1540 Committee Trust Fund, he encouraged those States that have not yet done so to submit their initial reports without delay.  As for the Council, he urged members to adapt national responses to changing threats and emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The United Kingdom’s delegate called on all States to ensure that their legislation is up to date and fit for purpose, especially for those acting as nexus points in the supply chain.

Poland’s representative said fulfilling obligations under resolution 1540 (2004) is not a one-time task.  States must take steps to strengthen national capacities, including by adopting action plans, improving border management, countering terrorist narratives and engaging communities.

The Dominican Republic, for its part, has drawn up a national action plan, that country’s delegate said, adding that it will undertake a peer review with Panama on topics including national and international legislation, trade strategies, safe transport and risk management in emergencies.

Speakers also expressed concern about the looming threat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  South Africa’s representative pointed out that, given the existential threat posed by such weapons, including the risk of their use by non‑State actors, total elimination is the only guarantee that they will never be deployed by anyone.  However, he cautioned, unwarranted restrictions should not be imposed on the inalienable right of Member States, particularly developing countries, to use any related materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes, he said, explaining that nuclear technologies can be used to enhance food security, improve health and generate clean energy.

The Russian Federation’s delegate, calling attention to the forthcoming comprehensive implementation review of resolution 1540 (2004), due in 2021, urged Member States and their partners to draft recommendations to underpin the Committee’s work.  “Brainstorming will help to identify additional avenues for cooperation,” he added.

Also speaking today were representatives of Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, China, Kuwait, Germany, Belgium and France.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 11:29 a.m.

Briefing

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said significant progress has been made towards its implementation.  In resolution 2325 (2016), however, the Security Council recognized that full and effective implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) remains a long-term task requiring continuous efforts at national, regional and international levels.  To date, 182 countries have submitted initial reports.  One helpful step is for States to develop voluntary national implementation action plans as encouraged by the latter resolution.  During the last few years, an increasing number of States have conducted peer reviews.  Recognizing the role of national points of contacts in support of implementing resolution 1540 (2004), he said 105 Member States have informed the Committee about their point persons.

Highlighting the Committee’s matchmaking role in handling assistance requests, he said 21 such queries remain open.  To date, 47 States and 16 organizations have provided information about general assistance programmes that could facilitate the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Other activities in 2018 included engaging in 51 outreach events, with a top priority being direct engagement with States through visits and national round tables.  It also intensified its engagement with international organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  Given that transparency and outreach are vital, the Committee is seeking ways to make better use of its website and a special effort is being made to engage parliamentarians, for instance, through the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).  Further, it has begun preparatory work for the upcoming comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), which must be conducted before the Committee’s mandate expires in April 2021.  However, because of current United Nations financial challenges, contracts for the group of experts supporting the Committee were issued for only four months, he said, emphasizing that, if this is not addressed, the Committee will face serious challenges in fully discharging its mandate.

Statements

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), noting that his Government has provided more than $4 million to the 1540 Committee Trust Fund and hundreds of millions of dollars in bilateral non-proliferation assistance and will continue to do so, called on the Committee to expand its outreach efforts.  With the comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004) approaching, he encouraged those Member States that have not yet done so to submit their initial reports without delay.  Meanwhile, countries in need of assistance should submit requests to the Committee.  He went on to urge Council members to adapt to changing threats and emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and synthetic biology.  He also called on the Secretariat to ensure that the Committee and its group of experts have the required resources to recruit the best personnel to ensure the resolution’s full implementation.

JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea), underlining the importance of strengthening the non-proliferation regime and recalling that Africa has declared itself a nuclear-free zone through the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), said proper management and oversight of uranium reserves is essential.  Uranium must be used only for peaceful purposes.  Calling for global nuclear disarmament, he stated:  “We need solutions that go beyond national borders.”  Those States possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility in this regard, he said.  Welcoming the recent summit in Viet Nam between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, he encouraged further efforts towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  On the 1540 Committee, he said it bears responsibility for, among other things, the provision of technical assistance at border crossing points.

STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom), recognizing the Committee as being a cornerstone in the non-proliferation architecture and the rule-based international system, said his Government remains a strong supporter of its work.  The Committee’s first key priority is implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said, urging all States to ensure that their legislation is up to date and fit for purpose, especially for States acting as nexus points in the supply chain.  Devising national action plans and designating points of contact are vital steps, he said, adding that States should submit national reports if they have not already done so.  The second priority is assistance to States and the United Kingdom stands ready to help.  He noted that weapons of mass destruction were also used by States in Syria, and in the streets of Salisbury in his country in flagrant breach of the rules-based international order.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), recognizing the vital role of resolution 1540 (2004), warned against the growing risk of non-State actors using weapons of mass destruction.  An Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission confirmed the use of a toxic agent in Syria.  In addition, the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigation Mechanism has confirmed repeated use of mustard gas by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Syria and Iraq.  Turning to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he welcomed recent political developments, but nuclear installations are still active in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  For its part, the Dominican Republic will undertake a peer review with Panama on topics including national and international legislation, trade strategies, safe transport and risk management in emergencies.  Further, the Dominican Republic has drawn up a national action plan, with help from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and submitted it to the Committee in 2015.

VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said the value of resolution 1540 (2004) rests in the fact that it is a mechanism for cooperation, not for coercion or the imposition of solutions.  Responsibility for its implementation lies with States, with other stakeholders — including regional organizations, businesses and civil society — playing an assisting role.  Ahead of the comprehensive review, Member States and their partners should draft recommendations to underpin the Committee’s work.  “Brainstorming will help to identify additional avenues for cooperation,” he said, calling for the adoption of a professional approach guided by the principle of doing no harm.  He cautioned against the creation of more red tape or forcing through radical proposals that are liable to lead to more bureaucratization.  The Russian Federation will keep working with its partners to advance the non-proliferation regime.  Calling for prompt action to address the potential use of chemical weapons by ISIL and other groups, he cautioned that, in resolving the situation in Syria, terrorists in the region will try to seek cover in third countries to continue their heinous tactics.

GBOLIÉ DESIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) said tremendous challenges in the area of non‑proliferation remain to be overcome.  The fight against weapons of mass destruction requires a coordinated and integrated approach, including at the regional level.  Harmonizing national frameworks is critical, he said, underlining the importance of capacity‑building and helping Member States to meet their obligations.  Looking forward to the progressive elimination of weapons of mass destruction, he said more attention should be given to the Secretary-General’s new disarmament agenda.  Urging the Committee to continue its work with rigour, he anticipated a prompt resolution of issues surrounding the administrative status of members of its group of experts.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru), reiterating a staunch commitment to implementing resolution 1540 (2004), expressed concern about the link between the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist threats.  As such, he called on the international community to be united in responding to major challenges to the non‑proliferation regime.  Underscoring a need to tackle the issue of nuclear weapons in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he anticipated that the ongoing dialogue will pave the way for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  He also called for accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Other vital areas included preventing illegal technology transfer and illicit financial flows and improving internal oversight and exports control.  For its part, Peru organized a national round table, thanking the Committee for its support in this regard.

WU HAITAO (China), recognizing the Committee’s efforts and its new work programme, said that, although cooperation among Member States increased, the global security landscape remains complex with the persistent risk of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.  Member States must uphold multilateralism to create an enabling environment for non-proliferation.  The international community must also implement existing global instruments, including resolution 1540 (2004).  Primary responsibility for non-proliferation rests with States, with capacity‑building assistance made available for developing countries.  China fulfilled its obligations and will further deepen cooperation with the Committee.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that, with regard to the comprehensive review, recommendations should consider the evolving nature of non-proliferation risks.  She encouraged non-reporting States to collaborate with the Committee and its group of experts.  Emphasizing that fulfilling obligations under resolution 1540 (2004) is not a one-time task, she called on all States to implement all its provisions and strengthen national capacities, including through adopting action plans, improving border management, countering terrorist narratives and engaging communities.  Poland, with the United States, is discussing a workshop to be held in May with a view to addressing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among non-State actors.

NAWAF A. S. A. ALAHMAD (Kuwait) expressed hope that today’s Council meeting will further convince Member States of the urgent need to step up implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Improving the performance of the Committee and its working groups is an integral part of work on non-proliferation, he said, calling for redoubled efforts to enhance the non-proliferation regime to make it more effective.  He reiterated his delegation’s great concern about the challenge of weapons of mass destruction and the danger of them falling into the hands of non‑State actors.  A correct understanding of the evolving threat, together with timely responses, is a major task for all, he said.

JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany), welcoming the Committee’s 2019 work programme, said an enormous threat to global security remains the risk of non-State actors, particularly terrorists, using weapons of mass destruction.  Germany’s efforts include convening annual conferences through the Wiesbaden process, serving as a platform for an exchange between regulators and industry to enhance the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  The resolution remains an essential pillar of the multilateral non-proliferation architecture, as well as an important tool to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.

MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) reiterated that, given the existential threats, including the risk of non-State actors using weapons of mass destruction, the only guarantee that such arsenals will never be used by anyone is their total elimination.  However, unwarranted restrictions should not be imposed on the inalienable right of Member States, particularly developing countries, to use any related materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.  Nuclear technologies can be used to enhance food security, improve health and generate clean energy.  Proliferation challenges can be overcome by strengthening national legislation, using tools, such as export controls, bolstering international cooperation and enhancing partnerships with regional organizations.

KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), emphasizing that Da’esh remains a threat despite its territorial losses, said the notion of terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction is still a major concern.  “We must not let down our guard,” she said, calling on Member States to adopt legislation to prevent non‑State actors from possessing weapons of mass destruction or the materials needed to make them.  Underlining the key roles to be played by international and regional organizations, civil society and the industrial sector, she highlighted the importance of international export control and oversight regimes in combating proliferation.

Mr. DJANI (Indonesia), speaking in his national capacity, emphasized the importance of helping Member States to fully implement resolution 1540 (2004).  For its part, Indonesia will work with the Committee and its group of experts to identify areas where it can provide such assistance.  While the comprehensive review will not occur during Indonesia’s membership on the Council, preparations must begin now, he said, as this process is crucial for evaluating the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) and for providing a basis for discussing the renewal of the Committee’s mandate.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France), Council President for March, speaking in her national capacity, said France is particularly concerned by the proliferation of missiles, components and related technology to non-State actors in the Middle East, notably the Houthi militia and Hizbullah.  This poses a clear threat to regional security and beyond, and it must stop immediately.  Member States must step up implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) and make greater efforts in terms of cooperation and assistance, she said, emphasizing the regional dimension and synergy with other entities, such as IAEA, OPCW, World Customs Organization and export control regimes.

For information media. Not an official record.