Green Cross International called for a world free of weapons of mass destruction during the 8-10 January, 2013, United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 Civil Society Forum, held in Vienna, Austria.
UNSCR 1540, passed unanimously in 2004, focuses on promoting nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – nuclear, chemical, and biological – and related technologies to non-state actors, e.g. subnational groups and terrorist organizations.
Dr. Paul Walker, Director of the Green Cross Environmental Security and Sustainability Program, made two presentations to the conference on “Civil Society: Experience Gained and Lessons Learned,” and on “Partnerships with International and Regional Organizations and Civil Society.”
The Resolution states that these weapons, and their means of delivery, constitute a threat to international peace and security and imposes binding obligations on all States to adopt legislation to prevent their proliferation. It also obliges all States to establish national controls over the illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons-related materials and encourages all UN Members to cooperate in strengthening international arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation regimes.
After passing additional supportive resolutions in 2006 (UNSCR 1673) and 2008 (UNSCR 1810), the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1977 in 2011 which reiterated the 1540 mandate and extended the work of the “1540 Committee” for another ten years through 2021.
This extension recognized the fact that many countries had not yet fully implemented their 1540 obligations, seven years after its passage, and therefore apparently required more time and support. UNSCR 1977 therefore called for “relevant international, regional, and subnational organizations” to assist States “to implement resolution 1540.”
The 1540 Committee organized a three-day conference, “UNSCR 1540 Civil Society Forum – Opportunities for Engagement,” at the Vienna International Center (VIC) this month to address how non-governmental organizations might help this process in coming months and years. This meeting was hosted by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), and was organized by the Steering Committee of the Forum.
Amongst the 70+ participants, there was general consensus that the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction required both governmental and non-governmental support and cooperation to be successful. There was a general sense that global security is only as strong as the weakest link, necessitating the active participation of all stakeholders.
As Angela Kane, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, explained to the conference: “…our shared goal of nuclear disarmament and a world free of all weapons of mass destruction will require the committed efforts of us all. Civil society has contributed significantly to the activities of the United Nations, including disarmament, human rights, development, and many other critical issues. I have no doubt that this positive impact of civil society will move the world closer to meeting the objectives of resolution 1540 and a world without weapons of mass destruction.”