Research Paper: UN Security Council Proliferation

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[. . .] [footnoteRef:10] [9: Peter Crail, "Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1540: A Risk-Based Approach," The Nonproliferation Review, vol 15, no. 13, July 2006, p. 355.] [10: Lars Olberg, "The Implementation of Resolution 1540 in the Middle East," Cooperative Monitoring Center-Amman Occasional Paper, February 2008, p. 3.]

Simultaneously, in the years leading up to the adoption of Resolution 1540, the United States was in a hurry to put on the books a measure that obligated the entire international community to take steps to shut down or disrupt terrorist networks seeking WMD. More specifically, the George W. Bush Administration did not believe that the time-consuming process of negotiating a multilateral treaty was an appropriate path, considering the urgency of generating a WMD terrorism nonproliferation tool. In fact, the United States mirrored Resolution 1540 after the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was an all-voluntary measure guarding against the high seas being used as WMD trafficking routes. In sum, there were many events that triggered the passage of Resolution 1540, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing advanced consciousness of the threat posed by WMD terrorism, revelations about the A.Q. Khan network and the need for effective WMD terrorism security measures, and the Bush Administration's rejection of the multilateral treaty route

Early implementation challenges and current 1540 compliance rates

During the consultation process prior to 1540s adoption and immediately following the passage of the measure, numerous states questioned the legitimacy of the measure. The Non-Aligned Movement, but also countries such as New Zealand, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea, objected to their limited opportunity to impact 1540 negotiations and also that the Resolution was passed pursuant to Chapter VII under the UN Charter, making 1540 implementation an obligatory exercise for all states under international law.[footnoteRef:11] Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa were among over a dozen states that believed that in adopting Resolution 1540, the UN's executive body, the Security Council, had effectively overtaken the legislative powers of the General Assembly and other multilateral negotiating bodies.[footnoteRef:12]The inarguably heavy emphasis on nonproliferation compared to disarmament also frustrated many non-nuclear weapons countries, among them Germany, Canada and Norway.[footnoteRef:13] [11: During Security Council meetings, including UN Security Council 4950 Meeting on April 22, 2004, UN Security Council 4956 Meeting on April 28, 2004, UN Security Council 5106 Meeting on December 22, 2004, UN Security Council 5375 Meeting on February 21, 2006, UN Security Council 5886 Meeting on May 6, 2008, and in their reports to the 1540 Committee, the following states raised concerns with Resolution 1540 not being negotiated in a multilateral forum or called for such negotiations: Algeria, Chile, Benin, Peru, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Switzerland, Cuba, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, peaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Republic of Korea, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Namibia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Brazil, and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.] [12: For example, the following states raised concerns about the UN Security Council's role as a legislator compared to an enforcer as is the case with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention: Pakistan, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Lichtenstein, Nepal, Namibia, Brazil, and South Africa.] [13: States concerned with the imbalance between nonproliferation and disarmament included Namibia, Germany, Canada, Peru, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Switzerland, Cuba, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Syrian Arab Republic, Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Mexico, Norway, Kazakhstan, Austria, Lichtenstein, Nigeria, Namibia, Kuwait, Thailand, Chile, Algeria, and Brazil.]

Another, less political, initial speed bump for the implementation of Resolution 1540 was the ambiguous resolution language, making it difficult for states to actually understand what was expected of them. The Resolution, as noted above, in several places calls on countries to take "effective and appropriate measures" with regard to, for example, border and export controls, but provides no further explanation.

Today, however, several indicators point out that early legitimacy questions have been assuaged. First and foremost, in December 2009, then-1540 Committee Chairman, Ambassador Jorge Urbina, said "that the questions that were initially posed regarding the legitimacy of the resolution seem to have disappeared, as have the initial doubts on the need for the Committee. This represents a concrete achievement by the Committee and the Group of Experts that supports it."[footnoteRef:14] In line with that pronouncement, one no longer hears countries challenging the legal mandate of Resolution 1540 or complaining about the skewed balance between nonproliferation and disarmament. Indeed, the UN Security Council, with a new set of member states, has twice extended the 1540 Committee.[footnoteRef:15] Its current mandate runs through April 2011, at which point it is expected to be extended for an unknown number of years, perhaps even indefinitely. States and regional organizations have also publicly endorsed the implementation of the Resolution and in the latter case called upon member states to take all steps necessary to implement 1540.[footnoteRef:16] [14: Briefing by Ambassador Jorge Urbina, Chairman of the Committee Established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), 14 December, 2009] [15: The adoption of UN Security Council Resolutions 1673 (2006) and 1810 (2008) extended the 1540 Committee's work for two and three years respectively.] [16: Organization of American States, "AG/RES. 2333 (XXXVII-O/07) Support for Implementation at the Hemispheric Level of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004)," adopted at the fourth plenary session (June 5, 2007); ASEAN Regional Forum, "Statement Supporting National Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540," Statement at Manila, Philippines (August 2, 2007); Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, "Decision No. 10/06 Supporting National Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004)," Fourteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council (December 5, 2006).]

Turning to current levels of implementation, in 2004, the UN Security Council, when passing Resolution 1540, also established a Committee, the 1540 Committee, consisting of all Security Council states and a Group of Experts charged with monitoring 1540 compliance among UN member states. As a first implementation measure, countries were obligated to submit a report to the 1540 Committee six months after the Resolution's passage on "steps [countries] have taken or intend to take to implement [1540]." To date, over 160 states, or some 80% of UN member states, have submitted that report.[footnoteRef:17] Non-reporting countries are all located in the Global South, and while all Middle Eastern states have fulfilled this aspect of the implementation process, most reports are inadequate insofar as length and depth goes. For example, one state simply submitted a one page statement to the 1540 Committee saying that the country "does not possess nuclear, biological or chemical weapons."[footnoteRef:18] By contrast, countries that have more resources to devote to Resolution 1540 implementation activities, such as the U.S. And Germany, submitted elaborate reports that provided detailed descriptions on, inter alia, interagency implementation coordination efforts, future plans of action, and next steps to be taken to comply with the UN measure.[footnoteRef:19] [17: UN Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee website, , accessed on August 31, 2010.] [18: Security Council, Note verbale dated 29 December 2004 from the Permanent Mission of Yemen to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, UN Document S/AC.44/2004/(02)/97, 6 January 2005.] [19: Security Council, Letter dated 12 October 2004 from the Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, UN document S/AC.44/2004/(02)/5, 14 October 2004; Security Council, Note verbale dated 26 October 2004 from the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, UN document S/AC.44/2004/(02)/20, 2 November 2004.]

To a large extent, poor reporting on 1540 implementation by developing countries indicates, more than anything, how difficult and expensive the task of complying with Resolution 1540 can be. This is particularly true for governments that have other legitimate priorities that more directly threaten the quality of life for their populations. For example, extreme poverty, public health challenges such as widespread HIV-/AIDS epidemics, domestic instability, and drug, human and small arms and light weapons trafficking are often more pressing security issues in the developing world.. As noted by Brian Finlay in a 2010 report on implementing Resolution 1540 in Central America:

"Yet while few can question the disastrous consequences of a WMD terrorist incident, in the face of the daily threats to citizen safety and security -- both economic and physical -- in Central America and much of the Global South, such pronouncements are not only inaccurate, they are prima facie unreasonable. Requiring resource-strapped governments to divert attention from more immediate challenges to the seemingly distant threat of WMD terrorism is a proliferation prevention strategy that is destined to fail -- if not from a lack of political will then from a sheer lack of implementation capacity in these countries." [footnoteRef:20] [20: Finlay, pp. 5-6.]

As a result of competing priorities and finite time and resources that can be committed to countering the WMD terrorism threat, implementing Resolution 1540 is in many cases an afterthought in the Global South.

There is no exact science in assessing to what degree states… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

UN Security Council Proliferation.  (2011, May 30).  Retrieved May 19, 2019, from

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"UN Security Council Proliferation."  30 May 2011.  Web.  19 May 2019. <>.

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"UN Security Council Proliferation."  May 30, 2011.  Accessed May 19, 2019.