Delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 20 July 2016.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I thank Spain for organising this week’s open consultations on the Comprehensive Review of Security Council Resolution 1540, and I commend you in particular, Ambassador Román Oyarzun, for your leadership as Chair of the 1540 Committee.

Today’s discussions with Members of the General Assembly, relevant international and regional organisations, and civil society, are very important and very timely.

Resolution 1540 was unprecendented. It was the first time that the Security Council sought to address comprehensively the risks of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors. The resolution imposed significant obligations on all Member States with regard to both implementation and on-going monitoring and reporting. New Zealand knows from its own experience that compliance with those requirements has been no small matter.  

The results of this year’s Review will also be significant for Member States. It is important, therefore, that the broader UN membership has the opportunity to provide its views, particularly with regard to the sufficiency and practicality of the existing regime and how it might be strengthened to meet today’s challenges.

New Zealand will listen carefully over coming days to all ideas as to how to further strengthen the 1540 framework. We all share the ultimate goal of preventing the catastrophic harm that weapons of mass destruction could cause in the hands of terrorists and others who might seek to impose their will through threatening massive indiscriminate harm and suffering to civilian populations.

As events over the past few years have made clear, this is not a matter of academic interest. Terrorist groups such as ISIL have shown a clear intention to acquire weapons of mass destruction, they have also already demonstrated the capability to manufacture and use chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq. These developments underline the importance and urgency of our discussions today.

The 1540 Committee Group of Experts has also emphasised the risk posed by rapid advances in science and technology. As others have noted, advances like 3D printing have provided new opportunities for terrorist groups to develop WMD componentry, while open-source platforms have made the technical “know how” required to develop WMD capabilities far more accessible.

So it is timely for us to consider how the 1540 framework can be made more responsive to this evolving “threat-scape”.

There have been positive developments. We welcome the overall increase recorded in WMD non-proliferation measures across the UN membership during the review period. Almost all States have now submitted at least one national report to the Security Council.

However, while the overall the rate of implementation is increasing, progress has been uneven. More remains to be done in establishing effective domestic controls on sensitive materials and technologies. Application of measures relating to biological weapons is also lagging behind those relating to nuclear and chemical weapons.

Implementation levels also vary by geography, with fewer measures recorded in some areas - including, we must acknowledge, in our own region, the Asia-Pacific.

We recognise the importance of ensuring comprehensive international implementation of the regime, and support efforts to achieve its “universalisation”. However, we caution against an overly rigid approach which measures success simply by counting the numbers of laws enacted. A one-size-fits-all approach to implementation does not take into account the particular circumstances of different Member States, or the significant differences in threat environment.

We are particularly conscious of the substantial compliance burden faced by small states, especially Small Island Developing States, in implementing such a complex set of international obligations. Some flexibility and pragmatism is required in identifying appropriate solutions, particularly for states that do not produce or store relevant materials, or which otherwise have a low risk profile.

New Zealand continues to play an active role in providing support to our partners, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, to meet their 1540 obligations. This includes joint assistance activities, often in partnership with relevant international and regional bodies.

We have found particular value in holding outreach events or workshops on complementary and mutually-reinforcing topics: counter-terrorism, border security, non-proliferation, and export controls. For small countries, often the same officials cover all of these issues. Identifying actions and approaches that provide broader benefits makes it easier for the countries concerned to prioritise their scarce time and resources in giving effect to the regime.

The counter-terrorism and transnational crimes legislative drafting workshop recently held in Auckland, New Zealand provides an example of this model. The workshop was held in partnership with UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the Pacific Islands Form Secretariat, the Financial Action Task Force Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering and the 1540 Committee Group of Experts.

New Zealand also believes we must continue to look for opportunities to enhance complementarity and coordination between the 1540 Committee and other relevant international and regional organisations. This includes close cooperation with other Security Council counter-terrorism bodies, such as the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the ISIL/Al Qaida Sanctions Committee, which I currently chair.

Over the coming days, New Zealand will pay particular attention to the following priority issues:

  • First, we need to ensure our efforts are targeted and directed towards countries and regions where the need is greatest and assistance can provide the most value. In this regard, we support empowering the 1540 Group of Experts to proactively identify and approach Member States for country visits, with a view to supporting improved implementation where it is most needed.
  • Second, we need to strengthen the mechanisms for providing international assistance. This is about more than just additional funding. It means helping states, particularly small and developing countries, generate credible assistance requests based on identified needs, and helping them more easily identify appropriate funding sources. Consideration could be given to an enhanced role for the Group of Experts in this regard.
  • Third, we need to make the work of this Committee more streamlined and accessible to non-Council members. • Fourth, given the very real threat posed by chemical weapons in the hands of non-State actors, we need to consider whether current international frameworks for monitoring, investigating, and reporting on the manufacture and use of chemical weapons by non-State actors remain sufficient.

Mr. Chairman, Resolution 1540 was adopted to meet the dual threats to international peace and security posed by global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As we have heard today, twelve years on these threats remain more relevant and more dangerous than ever.

New Zealand will listen with interest to the views and ideas expressed over the coming days, and looks forward to working constructively with all Member States on the Comprehensive Review to ensure that the international counter-proliferation framework remains fit for purpose.

I thank you.