Thursday, October 9, 2014

New project launched to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has launched a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of African states to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery to non-state actors, such as criminals and groups involved in acts of terror.

The project will facilitate the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) on the African continent. Resolution 1540 is a key legally binding non-proliferation and counter-terrorism resolution, requiring states to: refrain from providing support to non-state actors involved in the spread of weapons of mass destruction; adopt effective laws to criminalise proliferation activities; and establish controls over equipment, materials and technology that could be diverted for proliferation purposes.
The ISS is the first non-governmental organisation to start a project dedicated to the implementation of resolution 1540 in Africa. The ISS’s work with African governments, international organisations and other partners on disarmament and non-proliferation has shown the real need for a project focusing on resolution 1540. The project was launched with support from the Government of Norway. The ISS is open to any additional partnerships to sustain the long-term task of facilitating the full implementation of resolution 1540.

Preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to non-state actors is a key security objective for African states in light of the dramatic consequences that would result from the use, or threat of use, of such weapons.

The task is particularly challenging as globalisation continues to expand access to equipment, materials and technology required to produce such weapons. Those driving the problem tend to resort to complex schemes, exploiting loopholes that may exist in the various control systems and regimes currently in place. At a time when economies are becoming increasingly intertwined, no state is immune from involuntarily hosting proliferation activities on their territory.

Ensuring that sensitive equipment, materials and technology intended for legitimate purposes do not fall into the wrong hands aligns directly with Africa’s economic growth and development goals. As Noel Stott, senior researcher fellow at the ISS puts it, ‘Development strategies at the national and regional levels would be severely hampered if it appeared that African states were unable to establish appropriate controls over dual-use goods’.

The new ISS project will seek to cooperate with the UN’s 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts, the African Union (AU), the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and its Lomé-based Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament UNREC), as well as other relevant stakeholders active on the continent, including the private sector and academia.

‘Resolution 1540 is a powerful platform to develop synergies among professional communities dealing with non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and development. The project has the potential to develop fruitful collaborations across the continent’, said Amelia Broodryk, senior researcher at the ISS.

A former member of the 1540 Committee Group of Experts, Nicolas Kasprzyk, will lead the project as part of a team within the Transnational Threats and International Crime division’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme at the ISS.

For more information contact:

Nicolas Kasprzyk, Transnational Threats and International Crime division, ISS Pretoria,, +27 81 794 4947

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