South Africa welcomes this open debate and the fact that the Security Council is discussing the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, particularly as it relates to non-State actors.
We requested this debate together with the delegations of Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland because it is our view that this open debate provides an opportunity for the wider Membership of the United Nations to contribute to the proposed draft resolution by sharing new ideas and proposals. We are pleased that the co-sponsors have already accommodated some proposals and trust that the recommendations made during the course of this debate will also be taken into consideration and reflected in further adjustments to the draft resolution.
South Africa shares the concerns regarding the threat that weapons of mass destruction pose not only to individual countries, but also to the international community as a whole. This threat is exacerbated by the possibility that weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of terrorist groups as well as those engaged in the activities of networks dealing in the illicit transfer of weapons of mass destruction-related technology and materials.
We are concerned, however, that the draft resolution that we have before us only addresses the spread of weapons of mass destruction, even then in an incomplete manner. There is a passing reference to disarmament in spite of the fact that chemical and biological weapons have been prohibited by international law and despite the unequivocal undertaking of the Nuclear Weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. On the issue of non-proliferation, the resolution only addresses non-State actors while ignoring the threat to international peace and security posed by proliferation by States. If the Council were not to act in a comprehensive manner, there is a danger that loopholes may remain that could be exploited by those who seek financial or political gain, and by those who seek to achieve their objectives through terror.
South Africa believes that the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction can only be effectively addressed if we use all of the instruments at our disposal – both in the fields of non-proliferation and disarmament. The attempt to establish a mechanism in the Security Council that is isolated from the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is a weakness that may impact on the effectiveness of the measures being considered in this resolution. It is South Africa’s belief that universal adherence to, and compliance with, international agreements on weapons of mass destruction and the complete elimination of these weapons provide the international community with the only guarantee against the threat or use of such weapons.
It is important that the resolution before us should be drafted in a manner that makes it practical and implementable by States. The current draft resolution imposes obligations on UN Member States and attempts to legislate on behalf of States by prescribing the nature and type of measures that will have to be implemented by States. This is also the case where States have already accepted non-proliferation obligations in terms of international treaties and other legal instruments.
South Africa believes that this resolution could have far-reaching legal and practical implications for Member States, especially those that have a capacity in nuclear, chemical and biological matters. In recognizing the dual use nature of such materials, there may be potential implications for a wide range of institutions, including hospitals, laboratories, universities, veterinary clinics, agricultural research centres and similar institutions.
In terms of South Africa’s national legislation that controls such materials, there are clearly defined lists of items that are regulated. This is also the case in schedules attached to the Chemical Weapons Convention and other regimes such as the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Such specified lists of control items are essential to ensure that those controlling these items know exactly what to control. The absence of such clearly defined lists of items in the draft resolution could lead to conflicting interpretations of controlled items and to a multitude of control lists. A more effective and sustainable approach would be to utilise the existing mechanisms and regimes to ensure that they operate more efficiently and effectively.
My delegation believes that all Member States of the UN would be opposed to the prospect of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors, especially terrorists. The challenge for the Security Council, whose mandate is the maintenance of international peace and security, is to ensure that the systems that we already have to control the technologies, material and equipment for the production, and delivery, of weapons of mass destruction are implemented more effectively and improved, where necessary.
The efficiency of these systems, and the ability of States to implement control measures in a way that will prevent all of those – both States and non-State actors – who wish to use these items for the development of weapons of mass destruction depends on the sharing of intelligence and information. It is unlikely, Mr President, that any application for the transfer of a controlled item would be to an end-user that is known to be a terrorist organisation. It is more likely that front-companies or front-end-users would be used instead.
The ability to prevent such a transfer is less dependent on the fact that the item is controlled and more dependent on information about the real end-use. This information holds the key to success and can only be made available through intelligence sharing. My delegation, Mr President, believes that it is through this sharing of intelligence information that the gap in non-proliferation controls can be bridged.
I thank you, Mr. President