Conference on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540) in Astana, Kazakhstan

Speech given by Deputy Head of Mission on 11 March. This is an English transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Conference on UNSCR 1540 Astana, Kazakhstan

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kazahkstan and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs for convening this workshop in the tenth anniversary year of 1540. UNSCR 1540 remains the only mechanism establishing international law obligations on all UN member states to combat the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by non-State actors.

Kazakhstan is playing an increasingly active and important role in the non proliferation sphere. Your offer to host the International Science and Technology Centre from 2015 onwards and readiness to host a Low Enriched Uranium fuel bank for IAEA members are but two examples of your welcome engagement.

Status of UNSCR 1540 National Implementation

The UK is committed to full implementation of UNSCR 1540. We submitted our first national report on 12 October 2004. The UK supports the 1540 Committee in its call to those 22 states yet to submit their first implementation report to do so as soon as possible. In this tenth anniversary year of the resolution, we are also reminded of the need to provide additional information when appropriate to the 1540 Committee. The UK has submitted three updates to its initial report, most recently as 13 December 2013. By updating our Report, we hope to help countries benchmark their own efforts against ours when building their own architecture of legislation and controls. Last year, the UK also submitted its first National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1540 to the 1540 Committee. Our Action Plan is based on the UK’s published Counter Proliferation Strategy. It differs from our Implementation Report by taking a more strategic approach mapping out our priorities and plans for implementing the key provisions of resolution 1540, on an international and domestic basis. Whilst acknowledging the voluntary nature of National Action Plans as set out in OP8 of the resolution, only 9 National Action Plans are currently available on the 1540 website. If the 1540 Committee is to determine a more strategic approach in taking the resolution beyond its tenth anniversary year, a more complete picture of national plans and priorities would surely aid them in co-ordinating their own outreach efforts and adding value to international co-operation.

Bilateral Outreach

Many states lack the capacity to implement the provisions of 1540 independently. That is why the facility to submit and fulfil requests for assistance is vitally important. The UK contributed to this process last year by funding the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime to deliver two workshops in Nairobi, Kenya and Dakar, Senegal encouraging states to ratify two key tenets of non-proliferation legislation; the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. We also supported the workshops on the ground by providing a UK expert to share our own domestic experience of meeting the international obligations set out by this architecture. These workshops formed an important part of the UK’s 1540 outreach work, identifying the resolutions role in strengthening wider non proliferation legal frameworks.

Co-operation with International, Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations

The UK is also committed to acting in concert with international partners in support of 1540. The UK was Chair of the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction in 2013. The Global Partnership (GP) is a multilateral non-proliferation initiative created by G8 leaders at the Kananaskis Summit in June 2002. In 2011, at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, leaders reviewed the results of the first decade of the Global Partnership and adopted the G8 Global Partnership Assessment and Options for Future Programming, identifying four particular priorities for the future of the Partnership:

  • nuclear security;
  • biological security;
  • scientist engagement in the WMD field; and
  • implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.

On 1540, the Assessment noted that “By providing equipment, expertise and training, GP partners could enhance WMD non-proliferation and counter-terrorism capacities in countries seeking to meet 1540 obligations and lacking the ability to do so, upon their request.” On the basis of this clear mandate for Global Partnership work on 1540 issues, the UK’s 2013 Presidency deliberately sought to promote full implementation of the resolution.

At our first meeting in February, where we set out our 2013 priorities in detail, we invited the coordinator of the 1540 group of experts to brief Global Partnership delegates on the 1540 Committee’s work.

Our second meeting in June had a broad focus on matchmaking. Within this format, we gave priority to the requests for UNSCR1540 assistance and helped to coordinate and match-make donors with recipient countries. We also publicised the 1540 Committee’s compendium of assistance offers and requests in the context of the event.

We also decided to capitalise upon the contribution of the 1540 Committee to the Global Partnership by inviting embassy representatives in London to hear directly from Committee Expert, Mr Nicolas Kaspryzk, on the ways in which they could fulfil their UNSCR1540 obligations. The event was well attended and the attending embassies greatly appreciated the opportunity for direct interaction with a 1540 expert.

The UK’s third and final Global Partnership meeting in October focused on responsible science and dual use research. Again, we benefited from the presence of members of the 1540 Group of Experts at the meeting. The relevance of 1540 obligations and related resolutions was clear: UNSCR 1977 highlights the importance of states controlling “access to intangible transfers of technology and to information that could be used for weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery”. Effective, risk-based information security measures in academia and codes of conduct for scientific researchers are two ways in which developing a culture of responsible science can contribute to the objectives of UNSCR 1540, and can be supported by Global Partnership programmes.

Strengthening international co-operation

The UK plays its part in ensuring that the European Union remains committed to universality of UNSCR 1540. We were a strong advocate of the European Council Decision of July 2013 which, for the first time, committed specific funding to EU activities in support of the resolution. The UK looks forward to receiving the results of this two year programme and encourages other multilateral institutions, such as the OSCE, to follow suit in ring-fencing sections of their budget in support of UNSCR 1540 in this way. We were also pleased to see 1540 listed as a priority area in the 2014 Programme of Work for the EU’s Non Proliferation Working Group.

The UK also actively supports the European Union’s CBRN Centres of Excellence initiative. A large component of this work is focused on identifying needs and the production of National Action Plans. Whilst recognising the sensitivity of these documents, there are undoubtedly avenues to be explored in understanding how they can be used in support of 1540. I encourage the European Union and the 1540 Committee to enter into consultations on co-ordination as this workstream progresses.

Of course, UNSCR 1540 focuses on the non proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear material but allow me to briefly concentrate on the nuclear strand in light of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague later this month. The UK is a proud to support the 1540 implementation gift basket initiated by Canada and the Republic of Korea. We have also contributed funding toward Indonesia’s gift of a National Legislation Implementation Kit. The aspiration is that states lacking in technical expertise will find the model law contained within the Kit a useful starting point as they adopt domestic laws in line with international standards. Whilst these gift baskets will not singly lead to universality of the resolution, they neatly demonstrate the role of high level multinational initiatives in renewing and refreshing the modes of assistance available.

UNSCR 1540 Conference, Astana, Kazakhstan 11 March

Co-operation and outreach with Civil Society

This speech has largely focused on the roles and responsibilities of states in complying with UNSCR 1540. But we should not forget the role that civil society has to play. That is why the UK, through Kings College London, helped organise an event in New Delhi, India on Effective Practices. This noted the lack of quality control of national reports, the need for an effective media strategy and the potential for civil society to bridge the gap between the 1540 Committee and national and international outreach programmes. The UK stands ready to support the Committee as it takes develops is thinking following this conference.

Future role of the 1540 Committee – strategic approach

As UNSCR 1540 celebrates its ten year anniversary and increasingly shifts its focus from initial implementation, the UK encourages the 1540 Committee to take a more strategic approach as it enters its next decade.

Firstly, the UK seeks to empower the Committee to be more than a collection box of information. A key requirement for the Committee should be to undertake assessments of the reports submitted, identify gaps in States, capacities as well as any pattern of deficiencies among states and across regions, and begin to prioritise steps that States should take to meet their commitments. While these would not be binding recommendations they could help shape States’ approaches to implementing the resolution’s requirements and focus the Experts. This kind of analysis would be of use to donors in assessing where funding is needed and in planning assistance programs.

Secondly, given the Committee’s work, it is uniquely situated to make assessments regarding regions or states most in need of assistance programs because their legal and regulatory controls are particularly lacking or there is greater proliferation activity in their region or territory. Committee assessments are not binding, but could provide useful input for donors to consider in making assistance decisions.

Lastly, the Committee could enhance its offer in the coordination of assistance requests so that donor states can work together to help states implement their 1540 obligations. While donors continue to make their own decisions regarding whether and how to provide assistance to states to implement their obligations under 1540, there is much the Committee can do to help donors coordinate on possible projects and help focus them on priority gaps. The Committee could convene and chair meetings in which donor countries discuss their on-going assistance, highlight perceived gaps in aid, and share information or assessments regarding assistance.

Thank you for your attention.

You can find other images of this conference on Flickr

Published 12 March 2014