Ten years ago, Resolution 1540 filled what was then a significant gap in multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes – the lack of any coherent and consistently-applied global framework for preventing humanity's most destructive weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors.
At that time, we hoped that, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding its negotiation and adoption, Resolution 1540 would be effective in filling that gap; and that it might do so in a manner sensitive to the differing circumstances and capacities of member states.
And so, we are pleased that, ten years later, we can judge Resolution 1540 as a success.
What, might we ask, has underpinned that success?
The 1540 Committee’s approach has been a critical factor in overcoming the initial misgivings and concerns held by many Member States.
Its efforts to engage constructively with Member States on their capacity needs, and to coordinate assistance with other relevant national capacity-building priorities, rather than imposing a punitive, one-size-fits-all approach, should be applauded.
So too should its proactive attempts to capture the synergies between implementation of the Resolution and other development and capacity-building needs - an approach that’s been particularly important for small states with limited institutional capacities.
But even more significant has been the collective political will of states to apply considerable effort and resources to secure existing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and to place effective controls on the materials contributing to their manufacture and use.
New Zealand takes this opportunity to recognise the strenuous efforts undertaken by some of the UN’s smallest states, for whom compliance requires considerable resources and attention.
We have played our own part in those efforts.
New Zealand is one of the 47 countries providing assistance to others in implementing the requirements of Resolution 1540, both bilaterally and in partnership with the UN and others.
We’ve put resources – more than $7 million since 2004 – into the G8 Global Partnership against the spread of WMD, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Nuclear Security Summits, the Proliferation Security Initiative, and the additional security and non-proliferation programmes run through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
New Zealand is also looking to include a practical Resolution 1540 implementation component in the table-top exercise it is hosting for Asia-Pacific regional partners in September 2015, in connection with the Proliferation Security Initiative.
It is, however, an understatement, Mr President, to say that challenges still remain.
Last year's confirmed use of WMDs against a civilian population in Syria was a stark reminder of the horrific power of these weapons, and justifies even greater political support to efforts to prevent their proliferation.
Mr President –
We can, today, say that, so far, our combined efforts appear to have been successful in keeping such weaponry out of the hands of non-state actors.
But, when it comes to such powerful and horrific weapons, “so far” and “appear to have” are, quite simply, not good enough.
We cannot afford to relax our vigilance or our efforts.
Looking forward, the Comprehensive Review of the implementation of Resolution 1540, to report to this Council by the end of 2016, will provide a very useful stocktake to help identify where we need to focus future efforts.
And, given the constantly-evolving nature and scope of all the global and regional WMD proliferation threats which the Committee must address, it will be vital to ensure that its priorities and activities remain relevant.
But it is only continuing stringent verification and, ultimately, the complete elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that can really ensure security for us all.
New Zealand has long called for the elimination of such weapons; and that remains our foremost objective, as it is, we know, of many like-minded countries.