UN Security Council Research Paper


UN Security Council Proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations is inarguably one of the greatest menaces threatening international peace and security today.[footnoteRef:1] Since the turn of the century, this sentiment has grown in strength across the world, and as a countermeasure to this threat, in 2004, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1540 to combat the dangerous nexus between the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism. Adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Resolution mandates that all member states criminalizes and put into place a national enforcement system to deter and punish proliferation activities. Additionally, provisions under Resolution 1540 entail physical safety and security measures, as well as the adoption of border and export controls to detect, deter, prevent, and combat illicit trafficking. [1: During the 2010 Washington, DC Nuclear Security Summit, the United States President Barack Obama stated that "it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security -- to our collective security." The White House, "Remarks by the President at the Opening Plenary Session of the Nuclear Security Summit," Office of the Press Secretary, April 13, 2010. Upon submission of this thesis to the Georgetown Graduate School, a version of this thesis will be published by the Stimson Center.]

Implementing Resolution 1540 is a long-term goal that poses significant challenges to all states because of the time and resources necessary to fully comply with the Resolution. In seeking to increase the level of 1540 implementation, a concept that has gained traction in recent years is the role played by regional organizations in assisting states to implement Resolution 1540. Regional organizations are important pieces of the 1540 implementation puzzle, and this research paper is aimed at exploring the how can regional organization can be used to assist their memberships with that task.

Structure and Responsibilities of UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council has basic function and responsibility as described in the Charter, to maintain international peace and security. The institution is planned in a way that which helps it to be able to function constantly. By law, representative of all it members must be present full time at United Nations Headquarters. The first summit meeting was held on 31 January 1992, at Headquarters. 13 head states out of its 15 members and 2 foreign ministers of member states attended this meeting. The council can also meet elsewhere that at Headquarters. [footnoteRef:2] [2: Information from United Nations' website http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_background.html]

When some states bring a complaint regarding a threat to peace before it, the Council's advises and suggest the parties to make agreement by peaceful means. If necessary, the Council itself carries out inquiry and arbitration. It may employ special legislative bodies or ask for the Secretary-General to appoint represent or use his good offices. It can also propose principles for a passive resolution.

In case of a dispute is not resolved through peaceful means and leads to fighting, the Council's first apprehension is to quit it as soon as possible. On several instances, the Council has issued cease-fire directives to avoid wider warfare. It also sends United Nations peace-keeping forces to assist reducing tensions. The Council may decide on enforcement measures, economic sanctions (such as trade embargoes) or collective military action.

The member state against which Security Council takes preventive or enforcement action may be poised from the use membership privileges and civil liberties conferred by the General Assembly on the reference of the Security Council. Then, if a member state continuously violates principles of the Charter can be barred from the United Nations by the Assembly on the Council's recommendation.

States can participate in discussion without having council membership. The Presidency of the Council revolves on monthly basis and president is selected according to the English alphabetical listing of its member States.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540[footnoteRef:3] [3: This section draws from the following articles written by the author: "The Slippery Slope of Rational Inaction: Resolution 1540 and the Tragedy of the Commons," The Nonproliferation Review, vol. 15, no. 2, 2008, pp. 373 -- 380; "Beyond UNSCR 1540: the Forging of a WMD Terrorism Treaty," CNS Feature Story, October 2008; "UN Security Council Resolution 1540: Historical analysis, current status of implementation, and a look to the future," CISTEC Journal, no. 126, 2010 (with Lawrence Scheinman).]

Resolution 1540 aims to prevent non-state actors, such as terrorist organizations, from gaining access to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as means of their...


The measure was adopted under Article VII of the UN Charter, which means that implementing it is binding on all UN member states. Specifically, Resolution 1540 requires all countries to "refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery."[footnoteRef:4] It also calls on countries to establish a domestic judicial and law enforcement system appropriate to criminalize and punish terrorists who "manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use," WMD, missiles to deliver these weapons, and related materials.[footnoteRef:5] Additionally, under the terms of Resolution 1540, UN member states shall account for and maintain security for all WMD, delivery systems and related materials, on their territories as well as to put into place border and export controls to prevent them from being transferred through or stored on the national territory.[footnoteRef:6] In short, Resolution 1540 has become an important component of the international nonproliferation regime, and its intent is to prevent the spread and use of WMD by a terrorist organization. [4: Security Council, UN document S/RES/1540, Operative Paragraph 1, 28 April 2006.] [5: Security Council, UN document S/RES/1540, Operative Paragraph 2, 28 April 2006.] [6: Security Council, UN document S/RES/1540, Operative Paragraph 3, 28 April 2006]
Recognizing that complying with all of Resolution 1540's provisions requires a major time and resource commitment from states in the developing part of the world, the measure calls on able states to support others' implementation efforts, including with financial, technical or human capacity and support. With regard to states failing to implement the resolution, as 1540 was adopted as a Chapter VII measure the UN Security Council can take punitive action against non-complying states. However, because of the general nature of Resolution 1540's language -- for example, it notes that states should take "appropriate" and "effective" measures to implement 1540's measures, but does not specify what that means -- full compliance, or noncompliance, are terms up for interpretation. Also, much of the work under Resolution 1540 is a constant work in progress as updates to, for instance the judicial system of any state, is a constant work in progress. One can therefore argue that no state will ever be in full compliance of 1540 and as such it is unlikely that the UN Security Council will ever consider singling out one or a group of state to punish them for not implementing Resolution 1540. Also, one 1540 expert has noted that the UN measure should not be considered a burden, but a "vision" for how to strategically plan for taking steps to implement the Resolution.[footnoteRef:7] [7: Remarks by Richard Cupitt, UN 1540 Committee Expert, at the 10th International Export Control Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, 25-27 June, 2010.]

Trigger events and precedents for Resolution 1540

The terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001 brought the perils of non-state actors to the forefront of the international security debate. The events on September 11 were catalysts for the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), which obligates the international community to take measures to halt or disrupt funding to terrorist groups worldwide.[footnoteRef:8] Subsequently, the terrorist attacks against the American homeland also increased the focus on the threat that non-state actors were actively seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, or radiological materials for a so called "dirty bomb," and highlighted the dangerous nexus between WMD and terrorism. Resolutions 1373 and 1540 both passed unanimously and set the precedent of being the only UN Security Council Resolutions that were not made in response to a specific phenomenon and do not target a specific country; instead Resolution 1373 and 1540 hone in on the general threat posed by terrorism and non-state actors acquiring WMD respectively. [8: Security Council, UN document S/RES/1373, 28 September 2001]

Revelations that A.Q. Khan, former head of Pakistan's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, had successfully headed a nuclear black market by exploiting weak links in the global security chain was also an incentive to seek additional measures to combat the WMD terrorism threat. Peter Crail, a nuclear analyst with the Arms Control Association, noted in 2007 that the illicit network verified that non-state groups "may be the recipients as well as the suppliers of [WMD] and technologies [and that the] traditional international WMD nonproliferation regime was not formed to address these types of proliferation considerations…"[footnoteRef:9] This was dangerously coupled with the absence of measures to combat WMD proliferation to non-state actors.[footnoteRef:10] [9: Peter Crail, "Implementing UN Security…

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