In recent years, non-state actors such as terrorist organisations and smuggling networks have posed a worrisome threat regarding them acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction against the vulnerable non-combatants. The smuggling of nuclear material by non-state actors remains a persistent threat to global security. Concerns have been allayed over the ISIS’s possession of chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons.
Non-Aligned Movement has expressed its concerns over the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors. The Movement had noted with concern the continued risk of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, including recent reports of their use by non-State actors in the Middle East.
At the 17th NAM summit in Venezuela in 2016, the Movement stressed the importance of the issue of non-state actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction to be addressed in an inclusive manner by the General Assembly, taking into account the views of all Member States. In order to counter the above threat, NAM has called for the efforts to be stepped up in resolving the current stalemate in nuclear non-proliferation and at the same time also underscored the importance of carrying out parallel efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament. NAM attaches great significance on UN Security Council 1540 (2004) in which it is categorically mentioned that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes.
The resolution requires all States to adopt and enforce appropriate laws to this effect as well as other effective measures to prevent the proliferation of these weapons and their means of delivery to non-State actors, in particular for terrorist purposes. However at the same time, NAM has also categorically stated that the need to ensure that any action by the Security Council does not undermine the UN Charter and existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction and of international Organizations established in this regard, as well as the role of the General Assembly.
At the United Nations Security Council meeting held on 28th June 2017, Venezuela speaking on behalf on the Non-Aligned Statement stated that the most effective way to prevent terrorists’ procuring weapons of mass destruction was the total elimination of such weapons and urged countries to adopt national measures when appropriate to prevent terrorists from procuring such weapons and their delivery systems. NAM reiterated its principled position that the question of non-State actors acquiring weapons be considered inclusively, taking into account the perspectives of all Member States.
A number of NAM Member States have undertaken a series of measures to prevent the acquisition of use of weapons and weapon related technology in the hands of non-state actors that pose an imminent global security threat. India has participated in the many international nuclear summits and agreements, including the Missile Technology Control Regime. At the UNSC meeting on 28th June 2017, India mentioned that the country’s government planned to host an international workshop in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs and the 1540 Committee.
Indonesia has instituted comprehensive measures to counter the development, acquisition, manufacture, possession, transport, transfer or use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems. South Africa has made efforts to implement global control regimes, including strengthening national legislation and through cooperation with international organizations, regional actors, civil society groups and the private sector. Malaysia has enhanced the enforcement of effective measures to improve domestic controls and preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials.
NAM believes that the only effective way to prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, including by terrorists, is their total elimination in a transparent and verifiable manner. Preventing non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction would require a range of national legislation as well as coordinated domestic measures on the part of Member States.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor