What's In Blue

Posted Thu 24 Feb 2022

1540 Committee (Non-Proliferation): Mandate Renewal*

Tomorrow (25 February), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution extending the mandate of the 1540 Committee until 30 November 2022. The current mandate is set to expire on 28 February.

Background

Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 aims to prevent non-state actors from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction and encourages enhanced international cooperation in this regard. The resolution also affirms that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitute a threat to international peace and security.

On 25 April 2008, the Council adopted resolution 1810, which extended the 1540 Committee’s mandate for a period of three years and approved the appointment of a Group of Experts to assist the Committee in its work. The resolution also requested the Committee to consider a comprehensive review of the implementation status of resolution 1540.

The precise scope and modalities of the review process were outlined in Security Council letter (S/2009/170) of 1 April 2009, which determined that the comprehensive reviews would assess the evolution of risks and threats; address specific, unresolved issues; and identify new approaches for the implementation of resolution 1540. As part of the comprehensive reviews, the 1540 Committee holds open consultations with broad participation—including from UN member states, international organisations, regional and sub-regional organisations, and civil society—to exchange views and provide practical ideas on how to enhance implementation of resolution 1540.

On 20 April 2011, the Security Council adopted resolution 1977, which extended the 1540 Committee’s mandate for a period of ten years. The resolution also called on the Committee to conduct two comprehensive reviews on the implementation of resolution 1540: one after five years and another before the Committee’s mandate renewal in 2021. The Committee had planned to initiate the second comprehensive review and hold open consultations in June 2020. However, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee decided to postpone all activities related to the comprehensive review until 2021. These activities were postponed for a second time in 2021, again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiations

The chair of the 1540 Committee (Mexico) circulated an initial draft resolution to Council members on Monday (21 February) and convened informal consultations with Council members on Tuesday (22 February). The draft was then put into blue on Wednesday evening with a vote scheduled for tomorrow morning.

The draft resolution in blue is a straightforward renewal until 30 November of the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts as specified in paragraph 5 of resolution 1977 from 2011. This is the second time the Council has opted for a technical rollover of the 1540 Committee’s mandate, having previously done so in April 2021 through resolution 2572, which extended the 1540 Committee’s mandate until 28 February 2022, on each occasion in order to allow the Committee to complete activities related to the comprehensive review of the implementation of resolution 1540.

Amid loosening restrictions on in-person meetings at the UN, it appears that the 1540 Committee Chair has identified a possible time frame between May and July when open consultations could take place. This would allow sufficient time for the Committee to submit to the Council a report on the conclusions of the comprehensive review before the expiry of the 1540 Committee’s mandate on 30 November, as envisioned by the draft resolution in blue.

Council members are united in their support for the work and the mandate of the 1540 Committee. It appears that most Council members are in favour of the renewal as proposed; however, it appears that Russia would have preferred a substantive resolution that would have extended the mandate of the Committee for a longer period and included adjustments to its mandate without the comprehensive review.

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*Post-script: On 25 February, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2622, which extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its group of experts until 30 November 2022.

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