What's In Blue

Posted Fri 21 Nov 2014

Semi-Annual briefing on the Work of the 1540 Committee

On Monday afternoon (24 November), the Council is scheduled to hear the semi-annual briefing by the chair of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Oh Joon (Republic of Korea). This would normally have been done as part of a joint briefing with the chairs of the Council’s two other counter-terrorism-related committees, namely the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, but since they participated in the Council’s 19 November counter-terrorism open debate, only Oh will be speaking on Monday.

The briefing will be Oh’s last as chair of the Committee as the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) term as an elected member will be ending on 31 December. Non-proliferation issues have been among the ROK’s priorities while on the Council, and Oh has been an active Committee chair. The fact that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1540 has also generated some additional interest among the wider UN membership. During its Council presidency in May, the ROK organised an open debate chaired by its foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, to commemorate this anniversary (S/PV.7169), during which more than 60 member states spoke. The debate was followed by the adoption of an ROK-drafted presidential statement (S/PRST/2014/7) that reaffirmed the main provisions of resolution 1540 and called on states to step up their efforts to implement their obligations and to keep the 1540 Committee regularly informed, while also emphasising the importance of achieving universal reporting. It furthermore stressed the need for assistance and capacity-building to support implementation and reiterated the importance of cooperation and coordination between the Committee and relevant organisations.

In his statement on Monday, Oh can be expected to review the main activities of the Committee and progress towards full implementation of resolution 1540 since he last briefed the Council on 28 May (S/PV.7184). (The Committee held three formal meetings during this period: on 9 June, 4 August and 3 November.) In particular, his remarks may focus on some of the key priorities that he has outlined previously in his capacity as chair, including efforts to achieve universal reporting by all members states on implementation of the resolution, improving the Committee’s assistance mechanism (matching assistance requests and offers); enhancing coordination and cooperation with other relevant committees and organisations; reviewing all revised national matrices (which function as the primary tool for the committee to organise information about implementation by each member state); compiling effective practices; and expanding the network of 1540 points of contact. In this context, Oh is likely to note that the Committee has received one additional national implementation report since his last briefing (from Malawi on 3 September) so that the number of non-reporting states now is down to 20. He may also be able to provide an update with regard to the compilation of best practices that the Committee has been working on with the assistance of the Group of Experts as a guidance tool for member states.

In addition, Oh can be expected to talk about some of the many outreach activities conducted by the Committee and its Group of Experts to promote implementation as a key mandated task. Most recently, from 23-24 October, the Committee visited China, at its invitation, to discuss implementation of resolution 1540, and from 5 -7 November the Committee visited the UK where members also participated in a Chatham House seminar, “UNSCR 1540 Ten Years On: Preventing Non-State Actors from Acquiring WMD”, marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the resolution. Oh is also likely to mention that he participated in a 27-28 October regional workshop organised by the ROK in cooperation with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs to promote full implementation of the resolution.

Oh may also wish to highlight some of the key areas of the Committee’s work that will require his successor’s attention. (At press time, it was still unclear who the incoming chair would be.) One clear priority for the next two years will be the comprehensive review of the implementation of the resolution, as called for by the Council in resolution 1977, which is due by the end of 2016. This was also referred to in the 7 May presidential statement, which called on the Committee to consider developing a strategy towards full implementation of the resolution and incorporating it in the review. An immediate priority is the adoption of the Committee’s next programme of work, which is due early next year and will include a plan for how the review will be conducted. (The current programme covers the period 1 June 2014 through 31 January 2015 [S/2014/369]. It has traditionally been drafted by the UK.)

Council members are expected to take the floor following Oh’s briefing. Statements are likely to reflect that members are generally very supportive of the objectives of resolution 1540 and the work of the Committee although there are some differences in main priorities. The UK will possibly highlight that it recently submitted to the Council, jointly with Canada, a legislative guide for the national implementation of resolution 1540 which had been developed by the non-governmental organisation Verification Research, Training and Information Centre with financial support from the two governments. According to the 20 October letter (S/2014/761), the guide corresponds to a request in resolution 1977 (which extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for ten years until 25 April 2021) that the Committee prepare a technical reference guide to be used by states on a voluntary basis in implementing resolution 1540.

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