January 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 December 2009
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Expected Council Action
The 1540 Committee on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is due to submit its comprehensive review to the Council before the end of January, as well as its new programme of work. No formal Council outcome is expected.

Resolution 1540
The Council adopted resolution 1540 in 2004 to address the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. It requires that all states take action to prevent non-state actors obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction. It specifically requires states to adopt laws prohibiting such access, and establish domestic controls to prevent proliferation of such weapons and their delivery systems. The resolution also established a Committee (consisting of all members of the Council) to monitor implementation of the resolution.

Key Recent Developments
The 1540 Committee has focused in 2009 on a comprehensive review of its activities. A significant element of this review was a meeting opened to UN member states at large, which the Committee held from 30 September to 2 October 2009. International, regional and subregional organisations and other entities were also invited. Participants were asked to provide input on the impact of the resolution, regional analysis of implementation, the Committee’s assistance efforts and comments on methods to address gaps in implementation. Background papers, statements made by member states, and discussions with NGOs were gathered and have been incorporated into the review process.

On 14 December 2009, Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, the outgoing chair of the 1540 Committee, briefed the Council. He stated that while the Committee’s comprehensive review had not accomplished all he had hoped, it had demonstrated that regional and subregional organisations could play an important role in supporting the full implementation of the 1540 regime. He suggested that the Council:

  • instruct the Committee to focus on building a “cooperation network” among regional, subregional and civil society organisations as well as the private sector and academia;
  • instruct the Committee to strengthen cooperation with regional and subregional bodies to jointly develop differentiated implementation strategies;
  • increase the number of the Committee’s experts from eight to ten, and have them selected by the Secretariat and appointed through established UN procedures through the Office of Disarmament Affairs;
  • implement additional mechanisms for the voluntary financing of its activities; and
  • itself assess and monitor evolving risks and threats concerning WMD and non-state actors.

Key Issues
The Committee’s comprehensive review has been an important issue leading into the final report on compliance with resolution 1540, which is due to the Council before the expiration of the Committee’s mandate in April 2011. In the years since the adoption of resolution 1540, the initial criticism of the regime has waned. This is due in part to the Committee working on active engagement with states and facilitating the pairing of willing donors with states requiring assistance.

A major issue for 2010 will be the need for significant progress in order to achieve full implementation of the resolution. Lack of capacity in many states continues to delay implementation and hinders the ability to respond adequately to UN reporting requirements.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Many Council members appreciate the Committee’s work under Costa Rica’s leadership and the open meeting from 30 September to 2 October 2009 has been welcomed. Many participants expressed significant support for the 1540 regime and the inclusive nature of the meeting enabled Council members to counter criticisms that the Committee is lacking in transparency.

Committee members seem confident that the comprehensive review will be complete by mid-January and that, while some aspects are still awaiting final agreement, the changeover in chairmanship of the Committee in January is unlikely to delay reaching agreement. Approximately twenty recommendations are expected.

There is general agreement that the Committee’s four working groups have allowed members to divide the Committee’s workload and function more efficiently. Some members would still like to see measures for improved communication between the four working groups (on assistance, cooperation, outreach and implementation). Most Council members seem to support institutionalising the groups.

Some members, including the US, support the creation of a voluntary UN fund to facilitate the assistance activities of the 1540 regime. It is hoped that such a fund would expedite the distribution of assistance, and be useful in circumstances where states may prefer to receive assistance through a UN source rather than directly from a donor country.

Selected UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1887 (24 September 2009) on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament stressed the value and necessity of fully implementing resolution 1540.
  • S/RES/1810 (25 April 2008) extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee on weapons of mass destruction until 25 April 2011, requested the Committee to consider a comprehensive review, encouraged states to prepare action plans and called on organisations and member states to provide the Committee with a contact for assistance.
  • S/RES/1673 (27 April 2006) extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for two years, and broadened its scope to include outreach, dialogue, assistance and cooperation.
  • S/RES/1540 (28 April 2004) established the 1540 Committee for up to two years and created its mandate to report on implementation of the resolution.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6238 (14 December 2009) was a briefing by chairs of subsidiary bodies of the Council.

Selected Letter

  • S/2009/124 (2 March 2009) transmitted the Committee’s programme of work for the period 1 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.

Useful Additional Resource

Implementing UNSCR 1540: Next Steps toward Preventing WMD Terrorism, Stanley Foundation, December 2009

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