Non-Proliferation (1540 Committee)
Expected Council Action
In February, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts.
Background and Key Recent Developments
Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 aims to address concerns related to the use of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors 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 acquiring access to nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their delivery systems. Furthermore, the resolution requires states to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons.
In April 2011, with the adoption of resolution 1977, the Council renewed the mandate of the 1540 Committee for ten years. The resolution called for the Committee to conduct two comprehensive reviews on the implementation of resolution 1540: one after five years and the other before the renewal of the Committee’s mandate in 2021.
Following the completion of the first review of resolution 1540’s implementation, the Council adopted resolution 2325 in December 2016, which encouraged the submission of voluntary national implementation action plans and the designation of national focal points.
In 2020, the Committee was supposed to focus on activities related to the second comprehensive review; open consultations, which are a major part of the review, were planned for June 2020. Open consultations provide a forum for representatives of UN member states, international and regional organisations, and civil society to provide their views on and practical ideas for improving implementation of resolution 1540. Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee decided in August 2020 “that all activities related to the review, including the open consultations, should be postponed until 2021, with the exception of the process currently under way of revising the Committee matrices and any other activities that can be undertaken in an online format”. (The matrices include information on activities undertaken by member state to implement resolution 1540).
On 22 April 2021, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2572, which extended, until 28 February 2022, the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its group of experts. At the time, the Council opted for a straightforward renewal of the mandate to allow the Committee to complete the comprehensive review of the implementation of 1540. However, the review has yet to be finalised because the open consultations have not been held.
On 2 December 2021, the chairs of the Council’s three counter-terrorism committees—the 1540 Committee, the 1373 Counter-terrorism Committee, and the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee–gave their annual briefing to the Council. Ambassador Ramón de la Fuente Ramirez of Mexico, the chair of the 1540 Committee and the penholder on the file, said that 184 countries had “submitted initial reports to the Committee with information on the measures they have taken, or plan to take, to comply with obligations under resolution 1540”. He noted that since 2007, 35 states had submitted national implementation action plans to the Committee. Ambassador Ramirez lamented that the comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 continued to be delayed as a result of the “ongoing pandemic-related restrictions in the UN headquarters”.
The 1540 Committee held a meeting on 3 September 2021, during which members discussed interactions between the Committee and international, regional, and subregional organisations. At the time of writing, the 1540 Committee was scheduled to meet on 31 January to consider two internal working papers produced by the Committee’s Working Group on transparency and outreach: one on the Committee’s outreach to member states and civil society, and another on ways to enhance the Committee’s transparency.
Key Issues and Options
The fundamental issue for the Council is how to negotiate a renewal of the 1540 Committee mandate when the comprehensive review—whose results are intended to inform the negotiations on the mandate—has yet to be completed.
One option is for the Council to roll over the current mandate for a matter of months in the expectation that COVID restrictions will be lifted, permitting the review and informed discussion on a longer-term mandate.
Another option for the Council is to undertake negotiations on a mandate of several years prior to the completion of the review—recalling that resolution 1977 in 2011 authorised a ten-year mandate. However, this approach would entail a lengthy mandate extension without hearing the views of member states, international and regional organisations, and civil society in the open consultations that form an important part of the review.
Most Council members support an active role for the Committee and its group of experts in engaging with member states to provide them with technical assistance and capacity development in implementing resolution 1540. These members also tend to encourage interactions between the group of experts, civil society actors and academia to help inform the group’s work. However, Russia believes that the group of Experts should have a more limited role, arguing that the group alleges exceeds its mandate. Russia has also reportedly resisted the idea of holding the open consultations in a virtual format.
UN DOCUMENTS ON NON-PROLIFERATION
|Security Council Resolutions|
|22 April 2021S/RES/2572||This resolution extended, until 28 February 2022, the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its group of experts.|
|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 Meeting Records|
|2 December 2021S/PV.8915||This was the annual briefing of the chairs of the Council’s committees focused on countering terrorism.|
|Security Council Letters|
|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.|