States Must Step Up Efforts to Check Spread of Deadly Weapons as Non-State Actors Exploit Rapid Technological Advances, Speakers Tell Security Council

In tackling drones, 3D printing, the dark web and other emerging threats hindering non-proliferation efforts, States must bolster their efforts as well as technological advances in order to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction and keep them out of the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors, delegates told the Security Council today.

Briefing the Council on those and other new concerns and responses, Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said many of the technologies, goods and raw materials required to produce weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems were available through legitimate producers.  She also emphasized the importance of international cooperation and dialogue with the private sector in eradicating illicit trafficking routes.

Despite the gains of the last decade, much still remained to be done, she continued.  Joint non-proliferation efforts must identify actions by which to grapple with threats arising from globalization, which had facilitated the exploitation and use of weapons of mass destruction, she said, noting that terrorists groups had evolved into cyberspace and, alongside other non-State actors, exploited loopholes to access the technology they needed.  The international community must prosecute all those responsible for supporting terrorist actions, she said, stressing that overcoming such challenges hinged upon cooperation among security agencies, including the sharing of information.

Agreeing, Joseph Ballard, Senior Officer for the Office of Strategy and Policy at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said the rising threat posed by non-State actors, the pace of economic development and the evolution of science and technology were all shaping the future of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regimes.  Moreover, the use of chemical weapons by non-State actors was no longer a threat, but a chilling reality.

The focus must shift to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons and to adjusting programmes and resources as needs arose.  Preventing non-State actors from acquiring dual-use materials, equipment and technologies was of critical importance to maintaining the global norm against the use of chemical weapons and in favour of international peace and security, he said.  Outlining recent efforts, he said OPCW had tested a mechanism designed to respond to a chemical terrorist attack.  “OPCW is committed to playing our part, in close cooperation with this Council and with the range of stakeholders that are so critical to our collective goals,” he added.

When the floor opened, many speakers highlighted the continuing relevance of Council resolution 1540 (2004) in calling for actions to prevent non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  Many underlined the urgent need to shift strategies in order to effectively address new and emerging dangers, as some recalled that Council resolution 2325 (2016) called for strengthening efforts to implement 1540 (2004).

Such efforts were more relevant now than ever before, speakers emphasized.  Panama’s representative said his country’s national efforts included halting the financing of terrorism, regulating dual-use materials and participating in a World Customs Organization programme to monitor the use of shipping containers for illicit trafficking.

Yet, States must be able to meet non-proliferation obligations without jeopardizing the development of commercial, industry and technology markets.  Mexico, home to one of the world’s largest chemical industries, enforced strict export-control standards that dovetailed with national non-proliferation responsibilities, that country’s represent