April 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 March 2008
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Counter-Terrorism: Review of the 1540 Committee

Expected Council Action
The mandates of both the 1540 Committee on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and its Group of Experts expire on 27 April. A biennial report of the Committee is also due in April. All indications are that both mandates will be renewed when the issue comes before the Council in April.

Resolutions 1540 and 1673
On 27 April 2006, the Council adopted resolution 1673, which called on all states to fully implement the provisions of resolution 1540 of 28 April 2004. Resolution 1540 requires that all states:

  • refrain from supporting non-state actors in obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems;
  • adopt laws prohibiting access by non-state actors to such weapons and their precursors; and
  • establish domestic controls to prevent proliferation of such weapons and their delivery systems as well as controls over related materials.

(For more information please see Security Council Report’s April 2006 Forecast Report.) The 2006 resolution also broadened the scope of the 1540 Committee’s mandate to engage in outreach, dialogue, assistance and cooperation.

1540 Committee
The Committee established by the resolution consists of all members of the Council and is currently chaired by Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica. It is required to compile information on each state’s level of implementation of the resolution. The Committee was asked to explore options for sharing of experience and lessons learned and the availability of assistance programmes to help states to implement the resolution. In a presidential statement on 23 February 2007, the Council supported increased multilateral cooperation as an important means of enhancing states’ implementation of the resolution. It reiterated its determination to enhance the role of international, regional and sub-regional organisations, including in providing assistance to states.

The Committee is supported by a group of eight experts who evaluate the level of implementation of the resolution by each state. It has developed a tailored approach that considers risk factors and each state’s capacity. Legislative suggestions and operational best practices have been developed by the Committee to assist its outreach and dialogue with states. Member states needing this assistance have been informed of available assistance from other members, as well as international and regional organisations.

Key Issues
While the response to resolution 1540 has been generally good, a key issue is that many countries still have a long way to go to achieve full implementation of the resolution. As of 17 December, 45 countries had not yet reported to the Committee and their progress therefore cannot be properly evaluated. A related issue was identified by the former Chairman of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, during his briefing to the Council on 17 December 2007. He pointed out that, while the experts are making progress in engaging these states, the complexity of the provisions of the resolution and the lack of capacity in many states to respond to the multiplicity of reporting requirements by the UN may be causes of delays in reporting.

The Committee’s second biennial report to the Council, due by 27 April, will therefore not be a complete picture of the status of implementation of the resolution because it does not yet have input from a number of states.

A second key issue is whether the Committee dialogue and outreach activities (including seminars and workshops with states, sub-regional, regional and international organisations) have now achieved broad acceptance of the requirements of resolution 1540. It seems that much of the scepticism which marked the adoption of resolution 1540 back in 2004 has dissipated.

A related issue is whether the Committee’s approach to facilitation of assistance is widely welcomed and whether assistance is actually reaching those who most need it. (The fact that 45 countries have not yet been able to report to the Committee raises some questions in this regard.) The Committee has concluded that for full implementation of resolution 1540, it is important for many states to receive relevant assistance. Ambassador Burian suggested in December 2007 that future outreach activities should focus more on assisting states with issues of implementation.

Council Dynamics
There is general unanimity in the Council on the future course of the 1540 Committee. Some, including permanent members, express strong support for the Committee’s work and its continuation beyond the April 2008 expiration of its current mandate. Most have welcomed the work the Committee has done in areas of facilitating assistance and conducting outreach to states, including helping them find ways in which they can report on implementation and support continuation of this work.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1673 (27 April 2006) extended the mandates of the Committee and the experts until 27 April 2008.
  • S/RES/1540 (28 April 2004) established the measures to prevent proliferation of WMDs and their delivery systems and the monitoring committee.

Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2007/4 (23 February 2007) affirmed resolutions 1540 and 1673.

Selected Security Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.5806 (17 December 2007) was the last open debate in which the chairmen of subsidiary bodies briefed the Security Council.

Other Relevant Facts

Chair of the Terrorism/Weapons of Mass Destruction Committee (1540)

Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica)

Useful Additional Source

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