In April 2004, the United Nations Security Council voted to adopt UN Resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution is important because it calls for states to establish controls on the exports of goods which could be of use in a WMD programme. UNSCR 1977 of 2011 extended the mandate of 1540 and the committee which was set up to monitor 1540 implementation. This page will attempt to deconstruct some of the key elements of Resolution 1540 with the aim of highlighting where it fits in with national control regimes.
Four key things to take from UNSCR1540 are as follows:
· Resolution 1540 was passed by the Security Council in 2004 in the aftermath of a number of important proliferation developments.
· After 1540, states were legally required to develop and implement a system of controls on the export of sensitive goods which could have a use in a WMD programme;
· 1540 universalised and formalised the requirement that states address a broader non-proliferation agenda which includes the financing of proliferation and transportation of goods to illicit programmes;
· 1540 first officially highlighted the role that the private sector can play in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
NB: All quotations are taken from UNSCR1540, the original text of which can be found here.
The background to the resolution and each of the following three points will be explored in turn:
Background to 1540
A couple of factors led to the consideration and passing of the resolution at the United Nations:
· The A Q Khan network was uncovered in the period immediately prior to the consideration of the resolution. The Khan network, centring around Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, was involved in illicit transfers of nuclear technology to a number of proliferant states around the world.
· The terrorist attacks of 9/11 heightened concerns surrounding the possibility of nuclear terrorism. The first couple of clauses refer to non-state actors.
· UNSCR 1977 was the follow on to 1540 which extended the mandate of the 1540 committee, set up to monitor implementation around the world.
Controls on Sensitive Exports Universalised
1540 essentially made it mandatory for all states to put in place export controls. Article 3 reads as follows:
Decides also that all States shall take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials and to this end shall:
(a) Develop and maintain appropriate effective measures to account for and secure such items in production, use, storage or transport;
(b) Develop and maintain appropriate effective physical protection measures;
Parts (a) and (b) relate more to measures to secure fissile material (it would be impractical and damaging to trade to enforce domestic controls on dual use technologies for example).
(c) Develop and maintain appropriate effective border controls and law enforcement efforts to detect, deter, prevent and combat, including through international cooperation when necessary, the illicit trafficking and brokering in such items in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law;
Part (c) decides that states will establish or continue to maintain border controls and the ability to enforce them.
(d) Establish, develop, review and maintain appropriate effective national export and trans-shipment controls over such items, including appropriate laws and regulations to control export, transit, trans-shipment and re-export and controls on providing funds and services related to such export and trans-shipment such as financing, and transporting that would contribute to proliferation, as well as establishing end-user controls; and establishing and enforcing appropriate criminal or civil penalties for violations of such export control laws and regulations;
Part (d) decides that states will establish, develop, review and maintain a national export control system over sensitive goods.
A Broader Agenda
1540 universalised and formalised the requirement that states address a broader non-proliferation agenda which includes the financing of proliferation and transportation of goods to illicit programmes: Article 3 includes that states should establish:
(d) … appropriate laws and regulations to control export, transit, trans-shipment and re-export and controls on providing funds and services related to such export and trans-shipment such as financing, and transporting that would contribute to proliferation
Part (d) decides that states should develop laws and regulations relating to the provision of funds and services that would enable proliferation
The Role of the Private Sector
UNSCR 1540 also assigned a role to the private sector in making export controls work, calling upon states:
8 (d) To develop appropriate ways to work with and inform industry and the public regarding their obligations under such laws;
Clause 8 part (d) highlights the need to engage the private sector if they are to be compliant with legislation.
UNSCR 1977 goes further and:
encourages the 1540 Committee, at its discretion, to draw also on relevant expertise, including, civil society and the private sector, with, as appropriate, their State’s consent;