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Securing India & The World

Updated: March 29, 2014 1:52 pm

Why there is the need for identification of effective implementation practices as per the Report of the Conference on UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004)

An increase in the rise of non-state actors such as terrorist organisations, drug traffickers is a wellknown feature of this globalised world. With the emerging geopolitical realities, the risk of nuclear proliferation is very high. The risk of nuclear weapons going in the hand of non- state actors is a dangerous preposition. With the changing face of the nuclear threat, comes the need for new tactics. United Nations Security Council, on April 28, 2004, adopted a Resolution 1540 to counter this problem. The Resolution states: “The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitute a threat to international peace and security. The resolution obliges States, inter alia, to refrain from supporting by any means non-state actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.” It further imposes binding obligations on all States to adopt legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery, and establish appropriate domestic controls over related materials to prevent their illicit trafficking.

Against this background, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in cooperation with the Institute for Strategic Studies, New Delhi and King’s College, London and with the support of United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organised an event on UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004): Identification of effective implementation practices a decade after its existence at the IDSA auditorium on February 25-26, 2014. The objective of the event was to build a community of experts working on export controls and develop effective practices related to implementation of the UNSCR 1540.

In fact, the tasks were to both better understand the resolution’s implementation and to identify effective practices for the implementation of the resolution going forward. The member countries passed the UNSCR 1540 on 28 April 2004. The resolution is supposed to strengthen the fight of the international community in preventing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery falling into wrong hands, especially of non-state actors constituting a threat to international peace and security. India passed its 2005 Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Act to implement the UNSCR 1540.

The Delhi event was attended by more than 100 representatives from the Civil Society from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Oceania and the Americas. Besides, the officials from different countries and the UN participated in the event. There were 22 foreign participants. The event was also attended by members of the diplomatic missions based in Delhi.

The Delhi meet was the first event of the social forum in its tenth anniversary year. As Amandeep Singh Gill, Joint Secretary in charge of WMD issues in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs underscored that the meeting “is an excellent opportunity to identify the implementation practices that have proven their effectiveness nationally, and that are worthy of emulation by member states.” He also highlighted that India has been a firm supporter of the global initiatives for preventing the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery. He emphasised, “As a victim of terrorism for over three decades, we are also painfully aware of the catastrophic consequences that transfers of WMDs to non-state and terrorists could entail.” Gill enlisted all the measures India took starting from supporting the resolution to implementation of it at the national level through legislation, regulatory and enforcement practices to supporting activities of the UNSCR 1540 committee.

The event discussed the status of the UNSCR 1540 implementation in Asia. Except North Korea, almost all countries submitted their national reports. Most of the countries submitted more than two reports and they also submitted reports using matrix developed by the UNSCR 1540 experts committee. Taiwan, a unique case of the region, which is not a member of the UN, was also encouraged to submit reports. The lack of human resources affected the task of implementation in several countries in Asia Pacific.

In the Asia-Pacific region, countries like Japan have undertaken outreach activities for other countries. But the region faces several challenges in implementation. Domestic resistance is one. The lack of incentives for implementation is another. At the regional level, the absence of coordination among different regional organisations is also noticed. In Central Asia, too, there is no regional coordinator. Moreover, the Central Asian region lacks human resources to undertake implementation.

Africa has a mixed record on implementation of the UNSCR 1540. According to a participant 36 states submitted their national reports, but around 20 states had not submitted any report. Several factors are responsible for the lack of progress in the continent. Some of these are: lack of perceived legitimacy; lack of awareness of the requirements of the resolution; lack of capacity among some African States to implement the resolution and so on. The African states, which face resource problems, put priorities on issues other than UNSCR 1540 implementation. However, outreach efforts and assistance by the 1540 Committee have greatly helped many of the African states over the years.

In the meeting, several recommendations were made for establishing a strong future relationship between UNSCR 1540 and African states. These were as follows

►           A central coordination role by the Africa Union on 1540-related education, and building upon those initiatives already undertaken.

►           Only 11 African states have to the 1540 Committee their National Point of Contact. Other countries should designate their National Points of Contact as soon as possible.

►           Moreover, the Committee should enhance capacity of national Points of Contact and engage them in relevant initiatives and capacity-building programs

►           Important role for Regional Economic Communities: These may also be designated a 1540 Point of Contact.

►           African countries may take the help of United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Africa to facilitate the submission of initial reports.

►           Visits by the 1540 Committee to states as to facilitate gap analysis, inter-agency coordination, awareness raising, identification of assistance needs, and overall implementation of resolution 1540

In Latin America, WMD proliferation is linked to the organised criminal network involved in activities relating to small arms proliferation, narcotics trafficking, youth/criminal gangs and corruption, basically in ungoverned spaces, and pockets of fragility. The capacity and institutional deficit along with porous/inaccessible borders makes the task further complicated. The implementation of the UNSCR 1540 faces challenges such as lack of, or limited, capacity and resources of states and perceived legitimacy deficit of the resolution. The countries of the region expect more support from the international community.

Europe has also been supportive of the UNSCR 1540. It fits well in European Union (EU) 2003 strategy. EU assisted countries with financial and technical assistance. In fact, out of 46 states that delivered assistance 23 are EU member states. The assistance involves sharing national experiences and training in export controls, physical protection & border security. The EU has been contributing through agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and G-8 Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

In the EU Center of Excellence for CBRN, UNSCR 1540 has interacted with stakeholders on a few occasions. However, there are still problems with the EU institutions in coordinating with UNSCR 1540 activities. Though the EU funds several initiatives to counter WMD spread, it has not contributed much to the UNSCR 1540 committee. EU contributed 670,000 Euro to the committee during 2004-2012. The need for outreach to non-traditional partners, a coordinating function within EU, multidimensional approach, overcoming the problem associated with under/over reporting and so on were highlighted as some of the measures during the event to improve the relationship between EU and UNSCR 1540.


■    India submitted four reports to the UNSCR 1540 committee.

■    To implement the resolution, it passed the famous Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in May 2005

■    Changes in the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 (FTDR Act)

■     Effective national export controls consistent with the highest international standards

■     Ready to make its contribution as a full member of the respective multilateral export control regimes.

■    Adherence to International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment

■     Supported reference to the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) in Nuclear Security Summit communiqués of 2010 and 2012.

■    Supported the adoption of resolution 1977 (2011), which extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee up to 2021

■     From 30 November to 1 December 2012, India hosted a 1540 workshop on the theme “Building new synergies on nuclear security” in New Delhi in cooperation with the Office for Disarmament Affairs

■     Destroyed all its chemical weapons stockpiles within the Convention-mandated time

■     frame of April 2009 under international verification by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The March 2014 Delhi meet discussed that export controls are quite a proactive tool because of its capability to deter and prevent. The export control system has a catch all tool which enables licensing authorities to extend and exercise control even on an item which is not on the control list. To succeed, catchall control needs to be intelligence-based, but the private sector has to be more proactive. All have to share whatever information they have. Moreover, the government may have to take up the task of educating stakeholders. Effective enforcement at borders solves many export controls related problems. One of the participants viewed that an exporter needs to suspect each order, but he pointed out that in reality, it rarely happens. The meeting highlighted the significance of a system that promotes transparency.

Data sharing and publication of information were emphasised time and again. One of the participants underscored that end-user information, and sharing of information on license denials may help. One of the speakers in the event talked about the role of published and open source on end user, end-use, broker, technical specifications, etc in the licensing process. The South Korean speaker informed about the system of Strategic Trade Information System (Yes Trade) for the purpose.

Transit control of an item has become an important issue of export controls of WMD. A German participant discussed different aspects of transit control. According to her, transit shall mean:

  1. the transportation of material goods from abroad through Germany without the goods having been released for free circulation in Germany, and
  2. the transportation of material goods in free circulation from another member state of the European Union through Germany.

The German official discussed different issues involved with transit control of an item. She informed any transit of WMD item through Germany requires license because of the European Union regulation. If an unauthorised WMD consignment in transit is intercepted, authorities may either sale it by force or destroy it. However, this control faces several challenges. Some of them are fact finding, investigation (Physical inspection; unloading; timeframe, etc), forecasting decision, legal analysis, and determining technical parameters. Of many recommendations, the German official focused on Information exchange between Customs and Licensing Authority exclusively via Customs single contact point.

Anshuman Roy emphasized on the role of technology innovation for implementation of the UNSCR 1540. Just now, according to him, the international community uses systems produced by big companies. These technologies are outdated and of four generation old. They often stop working or gives multiple false positives a day. Roy informed that the new technology invented by him provides the solution. The product’s name is MERCURY, and it is supposed to be noise free, calibration free, of iPad size and weight, solid state, and cost-effective.

One session discussed the relationship between industry and UNSCR 1540. The session pondered over the effective practices for facilitating role of industry in implementation of the UNSCR 1540. Industry is supposed to prevent misuse of its products. One of the speakers suggested that an emphasis should be given on monitoring and managing trade and technology as well as trade in technology-embedded products. Industry was asked to be responsive to outreach events, spend staff-time and resources in getting information, assess own risks and establish risk-mitigation procedures internally, invest into capacity building, to provide feedback to government agencies, adopt a system of voluntary disclosures about suspicious customers, questionable activities of rivals, and one’s own mistakes.

The participants also expected the government to have an institutional framework to engage industry. Another speaker from Indian industry maintained that the Indian export control framework is sufficient and industry does not need additional measures to further regulate industry. Industry believes effective trade enforcement involves ensuring trade compliance, but without impeding the flow of legitimate trade and more importantly, enhanced role of Customs Authorities.

After industry’s role the event discussed how Non-Governmental Entities (NGEs) may play an important role in implementation of the UNSCR 1540. What all are the organisations which may be called NGEs or constitute a civil society was a moot issue. From a practicener’s perspective, NGEs were research institutes, think tanks, awareness groups and organisations, profit and non-profit making organisations, universities and their departments, industry and business associations, coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), international NGOs, media, and even individuals. this writer narrated multi-layered coordination for implementation of the UNSCR 1540, in which NGEs may play a vital role. This writer suggested a harmonious coordination among the government and its different agencies, civil society groups, and international and regional organisations.

I further stated that NGEs may give second opinion on required legislation for implementation of the UNSCR 1540. Similarly, it may provide feedback on regulatory mechanisms. Capacity building, public education in which NGEs may ease government’s burden, monitoring of activities and exchange of information may be the areas where the government and NGEs may work together.

However, the most significant is the coordination among NGEs for which basically this event was organized. extension of public space. Sharing of experience, review of existing international mechanisms, new and emerging challenges, consensus building, public education and capacity building of new countries through NGEs or coalition of NGEs of acceptable countries are the future areas of cooperation among NGEs.

In summary, the event highlighted the increasing active role India is playing for the UNSCR 1540. The meet was an important indicator of India’s interest in UNSCR 1540. Earlier, India had organised a UNSCR 1540 workshop at an official level. This time India’s two Civil society groups—the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and Institute for Strategic Studies—organised the event in partnership with two principal outside organisations. Several NGOs and experts from all over the world just not participated but also supported the event.

The event discussed several issues which are throwing challenges to implementation of the UNSCR 1540. Participants resolved some of the contentious issues or problem areas and made developments on many. The event located several best practices for the issues on which a consensus was built. Certain points such as the relevance of risk assessment and information sharing figured quite frequently. The dilemma over export controls vs export promotion and tactical outreach activity also appeared during discussions. The event underscored the need for engagement of media and industry in the future.

By Rajiv Nayan



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