Op-ed: The Global Partnership’s complementary 1540 objectives

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The Global Partnership (GP) is a multilateral nonproliferation initiative created by G-8 leaders at the Kananaskis Summit in June 2002, whereby countries fund and implement projects to prevent terrorists and other proliferators from acquiring chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and materials of mass destruction. The Global Partnership also provides a means for partners to coordinate their contributions to WMD threat reduction through international organizations.

The chair of the Global Partnership rotates with the presidency of the G8 and it falls to the chair to organize the Global Partnership Working Group (GPWG) meetings. The United Kingdom held three in 2013.

Since its inception in 2002, the GP has expanded beyond the G-8 to include 27 members. From 2002-11, its achievements included: the destruction of some 20,000 tons of chemical weapons, the secure dismantling and transport of decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines, improved detection of nuclear and radiological materials, the reemployment of former WMD scientists and technicians to civilian programs, and the removal and safe transportation of 775 bombs’ worth of nuclear material in Kazakhstan.

In 2011, at the G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, leaders reviewed the results of the first decade of Global Partnership and adopted the “G8 Global Partnership Assessment and Options for Future Programming.” This identified four particular priorities for the future of the Partnership:

  • nuclear security
  • biological security
  • scientist engagement in the WMD field
  • implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540

On UNSCR 1540, the assessment noted that “By providing equipment, expertise and training, GP partners could enhance WMD non-proliferation and counter-terrorism capacities in countries seeking to meet 1540 obligations and lacking the ability to do so, upon their request.” On the basis of this clear mandate for Global Partnership work on 1540 issues, the United Kingdom’s 2013 presidency also identified four themes for 2013:

  • delivering more projects and programs more effectively
  • promoting responsible science and information security
  • expanding membership to reflect the global nature of the threat
  • enhancing implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540

So, what did we do in practical terms, particularly on the last of these themes?

At our first meeting in February, where we set out our 2013 priorities in detail, we invited the coordinator of the 1540 Group of Experts to brief GPWG delegates on the 1540 Committee’s work.

Our second meeting in June had a broad focus on matchmaking. This was a free-flowing half-day session in the meeting which implementers, funders, and recipients could get together and work out where projects could be most effectively developed. Within this format, we gave priority to the requests for UNSCR 1540 assistance, helped match donors with recipient countries, and publicized the 1540 Committee’s compendium of assistance offers and requests in the context of the event.

Many states lack sufficient capacity and expertise to implement UNSCR 1540 effectively. But many of these do maintain an embassy in London. We took advantage of the presence, again, of the coordinator of the 1540 Committee’s Group of Experts and other 1540-related expertise for our June meeting, hosting an “Outreach” event at which embassy representatives in London were encouraged to report. At the gathering the coordinator and others explained the ways they could fulfill their UNSCR 1540 obligations.

Our third and final GPWG, in October, focused on responsible science and dual-use research. Again, we benefited from the presence of members of the 1540 Group of Experts at the meeting. The relevance of UNSCR 1540 obligations and related resolutions was clear: UNSCR 1977 highlights the importance of states controlling “access to intangible transfers of technology and to information that could be used for weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.” Enacting effective, risk-based information-security measures in academia and codes of conduct for scientific researchers are two ways in which developing a culture of responsible science can contribute to the objectives of UNSCR 1540, and can be supported by Global Partnership programs.

Besides integrating UNSCR 1540 into our meetings and the wider work of the Global Partnership, we also felt that the United Kingdom should practice what it preaches about the importance of UNSCR 1540. Our way of doing so was to complete and submit to the 1540 Committee an updated report on 1540 implementation and a National Implementation Action Plan, as encouraged by UNSCR 1977. We filed the paperwork in December.

Looking back, I am pleased that our presidency raised the profile of UNSCR 1540 in the Global Partnership. Looking ahead to 2014, I look forward to working closely with the Russian presidency of the Global Partnership in what will also be UNSCR 1540’s tenth-anniversary year.

Daniel Shepherd was responsible for coordination of the UK Global Partnership presidency, chairing two of the three working-group meetings. He is also a former vice chair of the 1540 Committee, 2008-2010.

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