Comprehensive Review of Non-Proliferation Resolution Top Priority for Committee Charged with Overseeing Implementation, Its Chair Tells Security Council

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The comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004) — adopted unanimously to prevent non-State actors from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials — is the top priority for the Committee charged with overseeing implementation of that landmark instrument, its Chair told the Security Council today.

Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), described the resolution as a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture to prevent non-State actors, including terrorists, from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. “The full and effective implementation of the resolution is a long-term task,” he stressed.

The comprehensive review — launched in 2021 — is one of two called for by resolution 1977 (2011), which extended the Committee’s mandate for 10 years. The first review was held in 2016 and the second was to be held prior to the renewal of the Committee’s mandate, in 2020. However, due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee postponed its second review to 2021.

“The review is an inclusive process,” he assured the 15-nation organ, adding that while contributions by Member States — which bear the primary responsibility for implementing resolution 1540 (2004) — will be given high importance, the Committee will also invite international, regional and subregional organizations and civil society organizations to participate in open consultations. Further details will be communicated soon, as expectations and interest have remained high.

A central theme of the comprehensive review is the status of the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) by Member States, he said. The Committee is also addressing its role in facilitating assistance matchmaking; its collaboration with relevant international, regional and subregional organizations and other United Nations bodies; and its outreach activities.

Describing other developments, he said Mozambique submitted its first national report, with information on measures taken to comply with its 1540 obligations, bringing to 185 the number of Member States that have submitted first reports and leaving eight States still to do so.

He pointed to the voluntary National Implementation Action Plans as helpful in implementing resolution 1540 (2004), noting that the number of States that have submitted such plans to the Committee since 2007 now stands at 35, a number unchanged since his last report to the Security Council.

Noting that States submitted four new requests for assistance in 2021, compared to six in 2020 — from Botswana, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — he said the Committee webpage lists States and international, regional and subregional organizations which offer 1540-related assistance.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates expressed strong support for resolution 1540 (2004) and outlined their views for advancing its implementation in a complex and evolving global security landscape.

Against that backdrop, India’s representative said his country provides regular reports on its adherence to resolution 1540 (2004). It also created a strong global national export control system and supports academic and research efforts into the transfer of intangible technology.

Ghana’s delegate meanwhile recalled that, in April 2016, her country submitted its National Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), stressing that transparency and information-sharing through the 1540 Committee’s website will also prove useful in helping countries fulfil their obligations.

The United States’ representative, along with several other delegates, focused on the completion of the comprehensive review, expressing support for the Committee’s “ambitious but achievable” timeline. Her delegation is committed to collaborating with Council members to develop a strong and informed mandate renewal later in 2022, she said, as “the stakes could not be higher”.

On that point, China’s delegate said the factors driving non-State actors to seek weapons of mass destruction have only worsened since 2004. The 1540 Committee should formulate a sound work plan for its comprehensive review, while promoting international cooperation on non-proliferation issues. States should also pay attention to the rapid development of artificial intelligence, which can be misused by non-State actors, and abandon double standards that lead to heightened military risks.

Along similar lines, the Russian Federation’s representative urged the 1540 Committee to focus on its work, irrespective of any “complicated international circumstances”, and foster an atmosphere of cooperation. Noting that he trusted open consultations will be organized this year, he added that he expected agreement to be reached on the modalities so that States have enough time to prepare. Renewal of the Committee’s mandate must be based on the unifying foundations of resolution 1540 (2004) and not provide the body with any intrusive powers, he emphasized.

With the horizon in mind, Brazil’s delegate recalled that the goal of the comprehensive review is to adjust the mandate of the 1540 Committee to evolving international needs. The milestone resolution is instrumental in helping States establish the appropriate domestic controls to address the risks of weapons of mass destruction.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, Ireland, Norway, Gabon, Albania, Kenya, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

The meeting began at 3:04 and ended at 4:02 p.m.

Briefing

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), described the resolution as a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture to prevent non-State actors, including terrorists, from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. “The full and effective implementation of the resolution is a long-term task,” he stressed. Briefing the Council on recent developments, he said that during 2021 and early 2022, amid travel and other restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee maintained the precautionary measures adopted in 2020. While most business was conducted virtually, four in-person meetings were held. In 2021, the Committee participated in one in-person and 23 virtual events — versus 19 events held in 2020, most of them virtual, he explained.

Among its main priorities, the Committee continued to conduct the comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004), in accordance with resolution 1977 (2011), he continued. In April 2021, under resolution 2572 (2021), the Committee’s mandate was renewed until 28 February 2022, and under resolution 2622 (2022) — adopted on 25 February — further extended until 30 November 2022 to allow for the review’s completion. Noting that a central theme of the comprehensive review is the status of implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) by Member States, he said the Committee is also addressing its role in facilitating assistance matchmaking; its collaboration with relevant international, regional and subregional organizations and other United Nations bodies; and its outreach activities.

“The review is an inclusive process,” he assured the Council, adding that while contributions by Member States — which bear the primary responsibility for implementing resolution 1540 (2004) — will be given high importance, the Committee will also invite international, regional and subregional organizations and civil society organizations to participate in open consultations. Further details will be communicated soon, as expectations and interest have remained high.

During the reporting period, Mozambique submitted its first national report, with information on measures taken to comply with its 1540 obligations, he noted. That brought the number of Member States that have submitted first reports to 185 and leaving eight States still to do so. He pointed to the voluntary National Implementation Action Plans as helpful in implementing resolution 1540 (2004), as encouraged by resolution 2325 (2016), noting that the number of States that have submitted such plans to the Committee since 2007 now stands at 35, a number unchanged since his last report to the Security Council. However, the Committee supported two States — Botswana and Mongolia — which are in the process of developing these action plans.

Acknowledging that Member States are in the best position to identify effective national practices and to share them with the 1540 Committee, he said that to date, five peer reviews have been held globally, a number which again remains unchanged since his last report. The Committee looks forward to hearing the results of further peer reviews. In addition, 136 Member States, compared to 127 in 2020, have informed the Committee of their points of contact for resolution 1540 (2004). While no regional points of contact training courses were conducted in 2021, due to pandemic-related restrictions, the Committee hopes to resume such training courses as soon as circumstances permit, he said.

He went on to stress the Committee’s important role in facilitating assistance to Member States to fulfil their 1540 obligations, matching assistance requests from States with offers of assistance — from States or international, regional or subregional organizations. Noting that States submitted four new requests for assistance in 2021, compared to six in 2020 — from Botswana, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — he said the Committee webpage lists States and international, regional and subregional organizations which offer 1540-related assistance.

In addition to assistance provided by States and international, regional and subregional organizations, he said the Committee and its Group of Experts will undertake visits to States, at their invitation, to discuss national reporting, national action plans, Committee matrices and assistance on implementation measures. The Committee will use its website and the Chair’s quarterly message for outreach and enhancing transparency of Committee’s activities.

Speaking next in his national capacity, he underscored the importance of preventing the catastrophic consequences of using weapons of mass destruction, underscoring the indispensability of multilateral cooperation in that regard. The recent extension of the 1540 Committee’s mandate until November will allow for continued review of resolution 1540 (2004). He expressed hope that the Council will participate, in order to ensure that the mandate is adapted to current realities. “Together, we will be able to identify these elements, and thus avoid proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and prevent them from falling into the hands of non-State actors,” he said.

Statements

SHERAZ GASRI (France) said that more than 15 years after adoption of the resolution, the threat not only remains, but is evolving. Circuits of proliferation are becoming more complex, with a continued risk of biological, chemical and nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-State actors. Expressing regret that the process of comprehensive review has been delayed, she noted the in-depth review is essential to maintaining the relevance of the resolution. It should be inclusive, allowing all Member States and civil society organizations to express themselves. Further, the extension of the Committee’s mandate should allow for examination. Noting certain aspects of the resolution could be strengthened, particularly regarding the financing of proliferation, she emphasized the importance of assisting States that request it, according to need. She further urged deeper cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, export control regimes or other United Nations committees, such as those dealing with terrorism.

AMARNATH ASOKAN (India) said that threat is no longer in the theoretical realm, as noted in recent reports by the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD). With its long-standing commitment to the fight against terrorism, India created a strong global national export control system and provides regular reports on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) to the 1540 Committee. It also supports academic and research efforts into such related topics as the transfer of intangible technology and securing global supply chains. He called for greater efforts to support the Committee’s work, noting that the Council in its latest mandate renewal provided a clear mandate to the Committee to complete the comprehensive review on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004). While some progress has been made to that end, more needs to be done urgently, as COVID-19-related restrictions have now been lifted. “Procrastination cannot be an option anymore,” he stressed.

CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) recalled that, in April 2016, Ghana submitted its National Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) to the Committee. Urging other United Nations Member States to do the same, she added that maintaining transparency and information-sharing through the 1540 Committee’s website will also prove useful in helping countries fulfil their obligations.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), emphasizing that the 1540 Committee is a critical part of the global non-proliferation architecture, encouraged States to continue to take seriously their obligations under the resolution. Welcoming the technical rollover of the mandate agreed upon last month, she said that the comprehensive review and open consultations must be completed in the best way possible, reflecting the views of Member States to ensure strong and broad support for the mandate. As such, representatives of international and regional organizations, industry, academia and civil society must also participate. The input of all relevant stakeholders is critical to ensure that non-State actors are prevented from using chemical or biological weapons or acquiring their means of delivery. She also expressed support for building on gains made under resolutions 1977 (2011) and 2325 (2016) and extending the Committee’s work, as well as that of the Group of Experts. Its outreach, monitoring and assistance are central to the Committee’s mandate, and she expressed hope for seeing them further strengthened. While the comprehensive review is a key part of the Committee’s work, it is vital that the Committee’s regular work continue in parallel.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) said the open consultations are a key part of the comprehensive review, adding that it is important that they are robust and include a broad range of stakeholders, including the IAEA, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). She looked forward to engaging with the 1540 Committee Chair in the run-up to the renewal of the Committee’s mandate. In particular, she thanked Mozambique for submitting its first national report and encouraged the remaining eight States to do likewise without delay. Noting that Norway is working towards verifiable, non-reversable disarmament, she said the Committee has an important role to play in reaching that goal. Touching on the evolving nature of proliferation, including advances in science and commerce, she said she looked forward to collective efforts to advance the Committee’s work.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that the 1540 Committee remains an essential tool in preventing non-State actors from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials. It has been instrumental in assisting States to establish appropriate domestic controls to address such risks, he said, noting that Brazil has long supported the body and voted in favour of its creation as an elected Council member in 2004. “We once again have the honour of being on the Security Council at a crucial time for the future of the Committee, when we have the responsibility of conducting a comprehensive review of the status of implementation of resolution 1540 (2004),” he said, noting that the goal is to adjust the body’s future mandate to the needs of the international community and expressing support for such an approach.

LILLY STELLA NGYEMA-NDONG (Gabon) welcomed the extension of the mandate of the 1540 Committee, noting that broad consultations will be conducted with State actors, civil society, universities and parliamentarians. As well, the Committee’s cooperation with international, regional, subregional organizations and other bodies of the United Nations will also be strengthened. Since the presentation of the last report in 2011, Gabon’s situation has not changed, neither possessing nor producing nuclear weapons, chemical or biological products, nor providing facilitation or support to non-State actors. The Government strengthened its position by launching the ratification process of the Arms Trade Treaty last December. Gabon is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and all of its Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA and its Additional Protocols, as well as signatory to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), which creates a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa. She expressed support for the relevance and central role of the resolution in preventing and strengthening the fight against the emergence of terrorist groups and other armed groups, preventing them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania) emphasized that the resolution is an essential element of global non-proliferation architecture; the Council must ensure it remains effective. She encouraged Council members to stay united in supporting the work and strengthening the mandate of the Committee in order to adapt to new realities in that domain. While States have made significant progress in full implementation of the resolution, gaps remain. Full and effective implementation is a long-term task that will require continued efforts at the national, regional and international levels. She welcomed open consultations on the in-depth review of the resolution’s implementation, calling it a good opportunity to remind Member States of their obligations to implement it. Noting that the threat of non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction has not weakened, she expressed hope that consensus on strengthening the mandate under the 2022 review will be reached. Albania will continue to support the work of OPCW and has approved a national strategy to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, actively contributing to regional security on the issue, she said.

JAYNE TOROITICH (Kenya) reaffirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security. She urged Member States to adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws which prohibit any non-State actor from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, developing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. Noting that the 1540 Committee plays a key role as one of the mechanisms established by the Security Council in its efforts to combat terrorism, she welcomed the technical rollover that ensures continuity of its work towards universal adoption and full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), particularly amid the challenges posed by COVID-19.

FERGUS JOHN ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom) said resolution 1540 (2004) has become a critical part of the multilateral non-proliferation architecture and remains an essential component of the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. Noting that the threat of non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction has evolved since 2004, he voiced concern about their attempted use of such crude toxin weapons as ricin. The United Kingdom is ready to work with other States to strengthen their national regulatory frameworks, including their ability to implement their laws and regulations governing chemical, nuclear and biological activities. “We would welcome further consideration of aspects of resolution 1540 that haven’t yet been fully elaborated, such as proliferation financing,” he added.

DMITRY POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said his delegation is committed to the goals of resolution 1540 (2004) and highly values its spirit of cooperation. To maintain the non-proliferation character of the text, all countries must focus on implementation, with consideration given to their respective capacities. The Committee must focus on the work before it, despite the pandemic or any complicated international circumstances. Thus, it was important to maintain an atmosphere of cooperation in that regard, with work based on consensus. The Russian Federation joined consensus on resolution 2622 (2022) with the aim of completing the comprehensive review. He trusted that this year, as part of the review, it will be possible to organize the open consultations, he said, adding that the largest number of countries must be involved in discussions on non-proliferation and preventing weapons of mass destruction materials from falling into the hands of non-State actors. He also said he expected agreement on conduct so that countries have enough time to prepare. As States are responsible for the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), their contributions to the outcome of these consultations are key. He noted the importance of adopting a long-term mandate for the Committee after November, based on the unifying foundations of resolution 1540 (2004) and without providing the Committee with any intrusive powers.

JIANJIAN WU (China) said international consensus on non-proliferation has deepened in the years since 2004, while the root causes driving non-State actors to seek such weapons have evolved and worsened. Stressing that multilateralism is the best way to promote unity and avoid division, he advocated for a sustainable concept of global security and urged major Powers to abandon double standards and activities that lead to heightened military risks. States should also pay attention the rapid development of emerging technologies — such as artificial intelligence, which can be misused by non-State actors — and strengthen controls to prevent their misuse, all while respecting the inalienable right of all countries to the peaceful uses of science and technology. Meanwhile, the 1540 Committee should pursue its comprehensive review and formulate a sound work plan, while further promoting international cooperation in the realm of non-proliferation, he said.

TRINA SAHA (United States) underscored her country’s full support for the work of the 1540 Committee, noting she looked forward to engaging in its substantive work in the month ahead. Welcoming the opportunity to engage with stakeholders such as academia and civil society in particular, she pledged to prioritize the improvement of the Committee’s functionality and strengthen its outreach activities. She also voiced support for its “ambitious but achievable” timeline for the completion of its comprehensive review. The United States remains committed to collaborating with fellow Council members towards a strong and informed mandate renewal later in 2022, as “the stakes could not be higher”, she stressed.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity, noting that the current global non-proliferation regime is vulnerable to the emerging threats of the illicit use of modern technologies. He called on the international community to address these threats by reviewing the existing disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, including the 1540 Committee. Encouraging States to do their part to that end, he noted that his country has recently initiated a nationwide assessment for public and private sectors to develop appropriate measures against proliferation financing. Stressing the central role of resolution 1540 (2004) and the work of the Committee in supporting the global non-proliferation architecture, he noted that his country supports the continuation of the comprehensive review, following postponements due to COVID-19. In that regard, he expressed hope that the results of the review will be reflected in the further renewal of the Committee and its Group of Experts in November. In addition, the Committee should urgently facilitate arrangements for open consultations with Member States and international, regional and subregional organizations, civil society and the private sector as part of the review and consider streamlining its work and making it more accessible.

Source: United Nations