March 2021 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 February 2021
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Non-Proliferation (1540 Committee)

Expected Council Action 

In March, the chair of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico), is scheduled to brief the Council on the work of the committee, which deals with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

The mandate of the committee expires on 25 April. 


Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 aims to address the concern that non-state actors might use weapons of mass destruction for terrorist purposes (individuals and sub-state groups are not covered under existing treaties dealing with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons). It requires all states to prevent non-state actors from obtaining access to nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their delivery systems. Furthermore, it requires states to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons. 

In 2011, the Council adopted resolution 1977 which extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for ten years. It called for the committee to conduct two comprehensive reviews on the implementation of resolution 1540, one after five years and the other prior to the renewal of the committee’s mandateIn 2020, the committee was supposed to focus on activities related to this comprehensive review. The open consultations that were initially planned for June 2020 were among the most significant of these activities. This event was meant to gather representatives of UN member states, international and regional organisations, and civil society to discuss the 1540 review process. Due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee decided in August 2020 that all activities related to the comprehensive review, including the open consultations, would be postponed until 2021. 

Following the completion of an earlier review of resolution 1540’s implementation in December 2016, the Council adopted resolution 2325, which called for further efforts to strengthen implementation. In addition, resolution 2325 clarified the reporting cycle by deciding that the 1540 Committee would brief the Council in the first quarter of each year in addition to providing the annual joint briefing with the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee. 

In 2020, the March briefing was postponed as Council meetings were affected by the Council having to adapt suddenly to remote working. Then-committee chair Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia) briefed the Council on the work of the committee on 23 November. He emphasised the importance of resolution 1540 in efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; weapons of mass destruction; and their means of delivery to and by non-state actors. Furthermore, he stressed the need for all states to prevent such proliferation. Notwithstanding the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Djani noted that the committee would continue to promote the full and effective implementation of the resolution and to assist states, upon request, in strengthening their national capacity. 

On 28 December 2020, the committee published its annual report on the implementation of resolution 1540 that detailed the committee’s activities during 2020. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee has had to take precautionary measures in conducting its business. While some activities, particularly those related to the comprehensive review, have been postponed until 2021the committee has been able to meet virtually, and the report noted that it had completed some preparatory activities. These include the finalisation of committee matrices and their publication on the committee’s website, approval of the outline of the final report, and delivery of letters to international and regional organisations inviting them to submit written inputs on their work in support of resolution 1540 since the 2016 comprehensive review. The committee continued to strive to achieve universal reporting by member states on the implementation of resolution 1540. By the end of 2020, 184 out of the 193 member states had submitted their first reports on the implementation of resolution 1540. 

At press time, the committee had yet to adopt its programme of work for this year. Usually, the programme of work is organised around four main themes: monitoring and national implementation, assistance, cooperation with international organisations and other relevant UN bodies, and transparency and media outreach. 

Given the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is highly likely that the committee will not be able to complete the comprehensive review on resolution 1540’s implementation before the expiry of the committee’s mandate on 25 April, as required by resolution 1977. When adopted, the committee’s programme of work should provide more clarity on the timeline for completion of this process. One option, if it looks like more time is needed, is for the Council to consider a short-term extension of the committee’s mandate to allow for the completion of the comprehensive review. 

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Security Council Resolutions
20 April 2011S/RES/1977 This resolution renewed the mandate of the 1540 committee for 10 years. The committee was requested to conduct a comprehensive review of the status of implementation of resolution 1540 and recommend any necessary adjustments to its mandate every five years. The committee was also asked to consider by 31 August the feasibility of a coordination and leadership post for the group of experts, as well as the expertise and broad geographical representation required for the group of experts. In addition, the Council decided that the committee should submit an annual programme of work to the Council before the end of each May, with the next due by 31 May 2011.
28 April 2004S/RES/1540 This resolution established the 1540 Committee and its mandate, affirmed that proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
Security Council Letter
27 August 2020S/2020/847 This letter informed the Council of the committee’s decision to postpone all activities related to the comprehensive review, including the open consultations, until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
28 December 2020S/2020/1308 This was the annual report of the 1540 Committee.