Review of Implementation of Resolution 1540 on Weapons of Mass Destruction
Tomorrow afternoon (16 June), at the Council meeting featuring the semi-annual briefing by the chairs of the three counter-terrorism-related committees (the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee; the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC); and the 1540 Committee) a press statement on the comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540 is expected, a departure from the normal Council practice of having no outcome associated with these semi-annual briefings.
It seems that Spain, which took over the chairmanship of the 1540 Committee from Australia on 1 January, proposed the press statement in order to draw attention to the fact that the comprehensive review process has now started and to encourage non-Council stakeholders to be actively involved in the process. Spain’s initiative was apparently well received by other Council members, reflecting their general agreement about the importance of resolution 1540 and the comprehensive review. The resolution’s objective of preventing non-state actors from obtaining weapons of mass destruction is seen as particularly relevant at a time when the Council, along with the broader international community, is increasingly concerned about the growing threat of terrorism.
In terms of main elements contained in the press statement, it seems the draft acknowledgesthat the review process started on 28 April, when a paper outlining the modalities was formally approved by the Committee, and that it must be completed before 30 November 2016 as decided by resolution 1977. It encourages member states as well as international organisations and civil society to participate actively in outreach events that will be conducted as part of the review and announces that formal open consultations will be held in the summer of 2016.
The comprehensive review is also likely to be a key focus of Ambassador Román Oyarzun’s (Spain) briefing. It is possible that he will want to provide more details about how the review will be conducted. According to the modalities paper, the review is meant to be both retrospective and forward-looking. It should aim to improve implementation of resolution 1540 by recommending specific action while analysing the operation of the Committee and making recommendations for adjustments if necessary. The review will focus on four main areas:
- implementation of resolution 1540 since the last review in 2009, identifying gaps in implementation as well as potential shortcomings in the current system of data collection and presentation, including in reporting by States and sharing of effective practices, and making recommendations as appropriate;
- the role of the Committee in facilitating match-making and identifying improvements aimed at ensuring prompt delivery of assistance;
- current practices in cooperating with international organisations in order to identify better methods for these organisations to support the building of networks, encourage reporting to the Committee and develop opportunities for the Committee to interact with member states; and
- examining the Committee’s outreach activities since 2009 involving both member states and civil society and making recommendations on how to improve outreach and create opportunities for feedback to the Committee.
These four areas correspond with the Committee’s system of four working groups focusing on monitoring and national implementation (chaired by Chile); assistance (chaired by France); cooperation with international organisations and other relevant UN bodies (chaired by Jordan); and transparency and media outreach (chaired by the US). The Committee’s most recent programme of work covering the period 1 February 2015 to 30 January 2016 (S/2015/75) contains additional information on the comprehensive review.
Ambassador Oyarzun is also likely to provide an update on the other main priorities of the Committee, including progress in achieving universal reporting by member states. The reporting rate is high compared with what is normally the case in response to reporting obligations imposed by the Council, with 174 states having submitted national implementation reports, but universality remains a priority. The Committee is encouraging states to report on a more regular basis, not just once, and develop national implementation plans to be submitted to the Committee. Furthermore, Ambassador Oyarzun may want to highlight the Committee’s role in facilitating assistance to states requesting capacity-building to improve implementation of resolution 1540 and provide an update regarding recent outreach activities conducted by the Committee and its Group of Experts.