Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the 1540 Committee on Nonproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Ambassador Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 22, 2015


Thank you again, Roman, for your informative briefing and for your deep and personal commitment to this set of issues, and for your leadership as the Committee moves through a period in which there is an appeal for more to be done and for all of us to combine our efforts to ensure that you get the support that you need around enforcement and implementation.

There are few areas of such immediate and direct relevance to the maintenance of international peace and security than the efforts of UN Member States to prevent non-state actors from acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction. The recent terrorist attacks across the world have made clear the willingness of violent extremist groups to inflict mass suffering – and these attacks underscore why it is essential the international community keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.

We’ve made important progress since resolution 1540 was adopted in 2004; 174 countries – 90 percent of UN Member States – have reported on the measures they have taken to implement the resolution. But I agree very much with other Council members, and with you Ambassador, that given the human stakes and the malevolent intent – demonstrable malevolent intent – of many non-state actors, including ISIL, we have to do more.

Resolution 1540 has a global mandate backed up by Chapter VII obligations, but the Committee has not yet had to rely on such measures to achieve its objectives. Instead, it has engaged in dialogue with Member States, and incrementally built up support for an international climate of nonproliferation through cooperation. In a Security Council where political infighting too often stand in the way of finding consensus, the 1540 Committee shows what can be achieved when such differences are put aside; the Committee is generally united on key issues and works as a team effectively to carry out its mandate.

Under Spain’s leadership this last year, the 1540 Committee has made significant strides in promoting full implementation. For the first time since 2010, the Committee completed an assessment of all Member States’ implementation of the resolution. This was an arduous and highly technical effort. This monitoring and accountability allows the international community to measure progress in combating proliferation and the means of delivery of WMD – as well as to identify those areas in which we are coming up short. And those are the areas, as you noted, that we need to pay the most attention to.

Furthermore, the Committee has made important strides to increase transparency. It will soon publish online its data set on UN Member States’ implementation of nonproliferation obligations – making one of the world’s best information troves on this issue available to the public. Again, this is essential for accountability and for improvements. And the Committee increasingly uses social media and public service announcements – ensuring the public is not only better informed, but also that key actors such as parliamentarians and civil society partners can help the Committee achieve its aims.

Under Spain’s direction, the 1540 Committee developed and has started executing its plan for the completion of a second comprehensive review of the resolution. We look forward to robust participation by all states and relevant international, regional, and sub-regional organizations, civil society, and industry in this review process.

The United States encourages the review to generate recommendations in the following areas, among others: closing the persistent gaps in implementation in biosecurity, chemical security, export controls, and proliferation financing; making national reporting and Committee monitoring more regular and more robust; improving the assistance process so more states can implement the resolution – and here a lot of states complain of a lack of capacity, finding assistance to remedy that; developing better mechanisms for effective engagement by the Committee and Member States with parliamentarians, academics, industry experts, and civil society members in combating the proliferation of WMD, especially to non-state actors; and making the Committee more effective and efficient in fulfilling its mandate, especially by identifying priority tasks for the Committee to complete by the end of its current mandate in 2021.

Since the last briefing before the Council in June, the United States has continued to combat proliferation through ratifying four important international nonproliferation instruments: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and two Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation. The United States will also convene, as has been noted, the Fourth International Nuclear Security Summit in March 2016 to advance global measures to secure nuclear materials and facilities.

By meeting the obligations of the resolution, every government can do much to reduce the vulnerability of the entire international community to this threat. The United States looks forward to continue to work closely with our colleagues and our allies and partners, and everyone on the Committee and on the Council to deepen and broaden implementation of, and support for, resolution 1540.

I thank you.

Source: U.S Department of State


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