Resolution 1540 (2004) Vital Component in Non-Proliferation Architecture, but Full Implementation Remains ‘Long-Term Task’, Committee Chair Tells Security Council
Full implementation of the Security Council resolution obligating States to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons remains a long-term task, the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to that text told the 15-nation organ today, as members spotlighted emerging issues that the Committee will need to address over the next 10 years of its mandate.
Hernán Pérez Loose (Ecuador), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), stressed that the resolution remains a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture. It works to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, particularly for terrorist purposes. While noting that steady progress has been recorded in its implementation, he observed that fully doing so “remains a long-term task”. Detailing relevant developments since the Committee’s last report to the Council, he spotlighted the body’s completion of its comprehensive review of the resolution and the extension of its mandate until 30 November 2032.
He went on to detail various types of assistance the Committee stands ready to provide States to facilitate their implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), including matching assistance requests from States with offers from other States or organizations, conducting State visits upon request and using its website for outreach activities. He also outlined the Committee’s planned programme of work for 2023 and, in his national capacity, noted that it contains “common challenges and goals” that will help the Council continue to strengthen the global non-proliferation architecture.
As the floor opened to other Council members, speakers agreed that resolution 1540 (2004) is foundational to the non-proliferation architecture, broadly supporting the Committee’s work to ensure full implementation of the obligations emanating from that important text. Members also welcomed the progress achieved in such implementation to date — along with the renewal of the Committee’s mandate for the next 10 years — with many reaffirming national offers of assistance in this regard. Some, however, spotlighted emerging issues.
France’s representative, while joining others in reaffirming his country’s commitment to assist States in integrating resolution 1540 (2004) into domestic law, stressed that disarmament efforts must keep pace with scientific and technological evolution. The international community, therefore, must ensure that the Committee maintains its ability to cope with new developments.
On that point, the representative of the United Arab Emirates highlighted the risk of non-State actors seeking to misuse artificial intelligence to acquire or develop weapons of mass destruction. He stressed that it is essential for Governments and tech companies to work together to develop effective safeguards and monitoring mechanisms to prevent such abuse.
Brazil’s representative, highlighting a different, yet related, challenge urged that the control of sensitive items should not jeopardize access to technology and goods intended for peaceful use. He underscored that obligations arising from resolution 1540 (2004) should not create hinderances to accessing such products for legitimate purposes, especially those relating to developing countries’ space programmes.
China’s representative added his agreement to that stance, stating that countries have the right to “enjoy the dividends of technological advancement”. On that point, he urged that a better balance be struck between development and security — one that allows an effective response to proliferation risks while reducing unreasonable restrictions.
The representative of Ghana, meanwhile, observed that global interest in the use of chemical, biological and nuclear technology for peaceful development will forever be marred by the risks of accidents and proliferation as a result of the dual-use nature of this technology. For that — and many other reasons — the role of resolution 1540 (2004) remains pivotal, she observed.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, Malta, United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Gabon, Switzerland and Mozambique.
The meeting began at 3:20 p.m. and ended at 4:22 p.m.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), briefed the Council on that body’s work since 14 March 2022. He stressed that the resolution remains a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture, working to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction — particularly for terrorist purposes. While steady progress was recorded, its full implementation “remains a long-term task”, he observed. On working methods, he reported that, as restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic eased, the Committee was able to conduct most of its business through in-person meetings, supplemented by occasional virtual ones. In 2022, the Committee held two formal and five informal meetings, also participating in 15 in-person and 14 virtual outreach events. He spotlighted the fact that, following the adoption of resolution 2622 (2022) and the extension of the Committee’s mandate until 30 November 2032, the Committee completed a comprehensive review of resolution 1540 (2004) in accordance with resolution 1977 (2011).
Noting that the comprehensive review focused on the status of States’ implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), he said the Committee also addressed its role in facilitating assistance matchmaking, its collaboration with relevant international, regional and subregional organizations and other United Nations bodies, and its outreach activities. He also reported that, through resolution 2663 (2022), the Council unanimously extended the Committee’s mandate until 30 November 2032. He went on to note that one helpful activity in implementing resolution 1540 (2004) is the development of voluntary national implementation action plans, informing the Council that 38 States have submitted such plans since 2007 — an increase of three since the Committee’s last report. Member States are in the best position to identify effective national practices, he said, and the Committee recognizes the need to promote the sharing of experience — including through voluntary peer reviews and other means to evaluate and reinforce effective practices.
He went on to say that the Committee plays an important role in assisting Member States with fulfilling their obligations under resolution 1540 (2004) by matching assistance requests from States with offers of assistance from other States or international, regional or subregional organizations. While no new requests for such assistance were received in 2022, Madagascar and Sierra Leone submitted requests for technical and financial support for national events. Detailing various types of assistance that the Committee stands ready to provide, he said the body will continue to conduct State visits — upon invitation — to discuss national reporting, national action plans and Committee assistance for implementation measures. Further, it will continue to use its website for outreach and to enhance transparency regarding the body’s activities. He also detailed the Committee’s programme of work for the period of 1 February 2023 to 31 January 2024, which includes a list of the Committee’s planned activities to support the full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) by all Member States.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that the unanimous adoption of resolution 1540 (2004) was an important part of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems to non-State agents. Noting that the Committee’s programme of work for 2023 contains “common challenges and goals”, he said that the same will help the Council continue to contribute to sustaining and strengthening the global non-proliferation architecture. He added a call for all Council members to continue working actively and transparently with the Committee.
ANDRIS STASTOLI (Albania) said 2022 was a dynamic year for the Committee, with its comprehensive review clearly concluding that there has been real progress in implementing resolution 1540 (2004). He welcomed the fact that many United Nations Member States have submitted reports to the 1540 Committee on that matter, and urged those who have not yet submitted one to do so. Among several recommendations going forward, he said setting up an effective process that matches requests for assistance from the Committee with offers of support would be an important step. “It is up to all of us” to accurately assess the resolution’s implementation, he stressed, adding that greater cooperation on awareness-raising among States and other actors, such as civil society and academia, will only help. He also welcomed the Committee’s work programme for 2023, which is both realistic and achievable, and pledged his country’s full support.
ALEXANDRE OLMEDO (France), noting that Council resolution 1540 (2004) is a pillar of the international non-proliferation framework, stressed that disarmament efforts must keep pace with the scientific and technological evolution of the threat. Highlighting the risk of substances falling into the hands of non-State actors, he said the international community must ensure that the 1540 Committee maintains its ability to cope with such developments. Welcoming the adoption of Council resolution 2663 (2022) that renewed the mandate of the Committee for a 10-year period, he thanked Mexico for its role in the adoption of the comprehensive review. Regretting that the negotiations were difficult and there was no agreement on the guidelines for the role of the Group of Experts, he noted progress in the implementation of the resolution. While a broad majority of States have adopted measures to integrate the resolution into their national law, some might need assistance in implementing it, he said, reaffirming his country’s commitment to that.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) observed that, despite challenges, Council members were able to find common ground to reaffirm that resolution 1540 (2004) is a cornerstone of global non-proliferation architecture. Noting that a well-functioning Group of Experts is crucial to the Committee’s work, he called on those present to exercise the same spirit of cooperation shown during the adoption of resolution 2663 (2022) to finalize internal guidelines for that group. Stressing that the commitment of all Council members is central to the functioning of resolution 1540 (2004), he urged that, as members pursue common goals, the control of sensitive items should not jeopardize access to technology and goods intended for legitimate use. On that point, he underscored that obligations arising from resolution 1540 (2004) should not create hinderances to accessing goods and technology for legitimate purposes, especially those relating to developing countries’ space programmes.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) joined other speakers in welcoming the work of the 1540 Committee, as well as its adoption of a programme of work and the adoption of Council resolution 2663 (2022) extending the Committee’s mandate for another 10 years. She also praised the completion of the comprehensive review, which offered an important stock-taking opportunity, and the first national reports submitted by 185 Member States. One important role of the Committee is facilitating assistance to Member States by matching assistance requests with offers of assistance, she said, welcoming ongoing work in that area, including visits to States. In that regard, she also looked forward to the successful adoption of new guidelines for the Group of Experts, which should enable the Group to undertake its actions and work in the most efficient way possible.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said that, for nearly two decades, Council resolution 1540 (2004) has played a unique role within the non-proliferation regime. It has focused on reducing the threat of terrorists and non-State actors acquiring, developing, trafficking in or using weapons of mass destruction. Today, that mandate remains as relevant as ever, he stressed, welcoming progress made by States in their implementation of that text. Welcoming the successful completion of the comprehensive review and the unanimous adoption of resolution 2663 (2022), he said that, by renewing the mandate of the 1540 Committee for 10 years, it expanded the horizon in which the Council and the Committee can further support Member States. Also highlighting the risk that non-State actors could seek to misuse artificial intelligence to acquire or develop weapons of mass destruction, he also stressed that it is essential Governments and tech companies work together to develop effective safeguards and monitoring mechanisms to prevent that.
GENG SHUANG (China) pointed out that unilateralism and double standards are on the rise, developing countries face restrictions on the peaceful use of certain technology and the inequitable elements of the non-proliferation regime are becoming more pronounced. To create a favourable international security environment, parties should build a community of shared security through dialogue and cooperation. To strengthen the current non-proliferation regime, parties should uphold the roles and functions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), also opposing the politicization of such bodies’ work and preventing their use as a tool to pursue geopolitical goals. He also underscored the need to ensure the right to peaceful use, stating that countries have the right to “enjoy the dividends of technological advancement”. On that point, he urged that a better balance be struck between development and security, one that allows effective response to proliferation risks while reducing unreasonable restrictions. Adding that certain countries are intent on advancing nuclear submarine cooperation, he said this jeopardizes global stability and urged such States to revoke this decision.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) echoed the Chair’s assessment that the 1540 Committee remains essential. However, he noted that the body’s recent comprehensive review process identified many gaps in implementing the resolution and welcomed the Council’s decision to renew the Committee’s mandate for another 10 years. To address those gaps, the Council also charged the Committee with conducting increased outreach to Member States and other entities, as well as the with sharing technical guides that States may find useful. The United States looks forward to participating in upcoming discussions on that matter, he said, also expressing support for the adoption of several much-needed updates to the Committee’s working methods and for efforts to better clarify the responsibilities of the Group of Experts.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) noted that Council resolution 1540 (2004) is a vital component of the global non-proliferation architecture as the first international instrument that deals with preventing non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Expressing appreciation for the work of the 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts in assisting Member States to take concrete actions to fully implement that resolution, she pointed to the significant gaps in implementation. Welcoming the recent successful elaboration of the programme of work, which now becomes a road map to guide the Committee’s work ahead, she said she looked forward to open and transparent discussions with the broader membership and international, regional and subregional organizations. The Committee and its Group of Experts must be empowered to proactively provide their expertise to support Member States in identifying key gaps and obstacles and preparing their national implementation action plans. Her country is actively organizing outreach programmes for raising awareness on this matter in the Asia-Pacific region, which has become a production and distribution hub in global supply chain, she said.
ALICE JACOBS (United Kingdom) said that the use of weapons of mass destruction — along with the illicit acquisition and transfer of related goods and knowledge – by terrorists or other non-State actors remains a grave threat to peace and security, as seen with chemical weapons use attributed to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, by OPCW. Urging those present to maintain the relevance of resolution 1540 (2004), she said such efforts should include further outreach to Member States to improve their understanding of their obligations, increased financing and greater support for States asking for assistance. She also stressed the need to increase efforts to understand how rapid advances in science and technology are changing the context in which States implement the resolution. Adding that the United Kingdom remains committed to supporting Member States in such implementation, she spotlighted her country’s work with partners to raise awareness of proliferation finance in South-East Asia. Further, the United Kingdom can provide legal and regulatory expertise, as well as broader support to States looking to meet their obligations, strengthen national regulatory frameworks and improve the implementation of domestic laws and regulations governing chemical, nuclear and biological activities, she said.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), joining others in welcoming the report on the 1540 Committee’s work, noted the important atmosphere of constructive cooperation that prevails in that subsidiary body. He praised the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 2663 (2022), which extended the Committee’s mandate for 10 years and outlined a range of issues facing it. Countries should be provided with technical assistance to implement resolution 1540 (2004) at the national level, he said, expressing the Russian Federation’s full support for the resolution’s aims and purposes, as well as practical steps taken by States to implement it.
CHRISTOPHE NANGA (Gabon), noting the Committee’s programme of work and wishing it success, said that Council resolution 1540 (2004) is a key link in the global non-proliferation architecture. Highlighting various disarmament safeguards, from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the “Pelindaba Treaty”, he expressed support for the Committee's mandate and welcomed the efforts to keep non-State actors from manufacturing, acquiring or transferring nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Bolstering State technical assistance is a key component, he said, stressing the need for cooperation with international, regional and subregional organizations.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said that the submission of national reports provides a solid basis with which to advance implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), reiterating his country’s standing offer of assistance in this regard. He also stated that awareness-raising activities are important to inform about the resolution’s content and strengthen its implementation, welcoming the Council’s decision to develop a multi-year outreach programme for States. Noting that the Group of Experts is a key tool for the Committee to advance implementation of the resolution, he urged that the Group be provided with appropriate framework conditions and that the Committee review its internal guidelines regarding them. In addition, multilateral export-control regimes complement the resolution, providing a balance between non-proliferation concerns and international cooperation. Switzerland, as current chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime, is committed to the implementation and development of such mechanisms, he said, adding that, as these instruments have developed guidelines for their application, their experiences can contribute to the development of technical guidelines for the Committee.
LINDA KESSE ANTWI (Ghana) said global interest in the use of chemical, biological and nuclear technology for peaceful developmental uses — such as the supply of climate-friendly electricity, energy security, medicine and agriculture — will forever be marred by the risks of accidents and proliferation as a result of the dual-use nature of this technology. For that and many other reasons, the role of resolution 1540 (2004) remains pivotal. Voicing Ghana’s commitment to the Committee’s work, she said its resumption following COVID-19 restrictions was a great relief. She welcomed planned activities in such areas as outreach, assistance, transparency and cooperation with international, regional and subregional organizations. She also said that Ghana is especially keen on the inclusion in the programme of work of the Committee’s agenda to review existing initiatives available to strengthen, upon request of States, the capacity of their Points of Contact to assist in the implementation of the resolution. While national ownership is undeniably central to implementing resolution 1540 (2004), she nevertheless underlined the importance of experience sharing, including through voluntary peer reviews.
DOMINGOS ESTÊVÃO FERNANDES (Mozambique), Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity, expressed support for the Committee’s programme of work. Noting that Council resolution 1540 (2004) importantly identifies terrorists and terrorist groups as key non-State actors who may acquire, traffic or use weapons of mass destruction, he called for zero tolerance for the development, acquisition, manufacture, ownership, transport, transfer or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems by such groups. Also welcoming the completion of the comprehensive review of the resolution, through open consultations with international and regional organizations, he noted that the number of Member States that have submitted information on their focal points has increased to 142. Providing technical assistance to States is critical to the implementation of the resolution, he stressed.