|Sri Lanka hosts South Asia Workshop on Non-State Actors and Weapons of Mass Destruction|
|Monday, 22 June 2009 13:08|
A Workshop on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 dealing with Non-State Actors and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) will be held in Sri Lanka from 23 - 25 June 2009. The Workshop is being organized by Sri Lanka and the United States in cooperation with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. Participants from the Government of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been invited to attend as well as representatives of UN Agencies, regional and the other international and inter-governmental organizations.
Secretary/Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona will deliver the opening remarks at the Workshop. Mr. James Moore, Charge d’ Affaires of the US Mission in Colombo and Representatives and Experts of the 1540 Committee will also speak at the Inaugural Session.
UN Security Council Resolution 1540 outlines measure to be taken by Member States to prevent the danger of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or related material and their means of delivery falling into the hand of non-state actors for terrorist purposes. The Resolution also outlines a series of measures to be taken by states in achieving this objective, such as establishing domestic controls, effective law enforcement measures and drawing up the required domestic legislative framework. The 1540 framework also envisages international cooperation and the provision of technical assistance by Member States in supporting the domestic implementation of the Resolution. The Resolution also highlights the need for effective national border controls with a view to monitoring export and trans-shipment of related items and monitoring of related financial transactions.
In 2005 Sri Lanka submitted its Reports under UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating an Inter-Ministerial Committee with a view to updating the information already submitted. In this regard, Sri Lanka hopes to benefit from the technical assistance and cooperation which is envisaged in UNSC Resolution 1540.
Consistent with its own policy position, Sri Lanka has strongly supported international measures relating to counter-terrorism as well as preventing of the proliferation of WMDs. Accordingly, Sri Lanka considers international initiatives aimed at combating terrorism and preventing WMD related material from falling in to the hand of non-state actors as a high priority. Sri Lanka has supported important multilateral, regional, multinational and bilateral measures in this regard. These include relevant United Nations Conventions as well as those coming under the framework of the IAEA, and UN Security Council Resolutions such as UNSC 1373, 1540, 1673 and 1810. Sri Lanka is also a party to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism as well as Proliferation Security Initiative and its related activities. In the regional context, the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism was concluded in Colombo in February 2009.
As a major port in the Region, Sri Lanka is also concerned regarding the possibility of illicit transfer and trans-shipment of WMD related material by sea. In this regard, Sri Lanka is actively participating in the Megaports Initiative. The Port of Colombo is the first Port in the region where this system is operating. The Colombo Port has also operationalized the Container Security Initiative.
Given the broad spectrum of activities coming under the purview of UNSC 1540, Sri Lanka delegation to the Workshop will consist of a number of line Ministries and Agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Public Security Law and Order, Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Industrial Development, Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms, Ministry of Ports & Aviation and Ministry of Science and Technology, Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Customs. The Workshop includes a visit to the Megaports facility at the Colombo Port for the participants.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
22 June 2009
SOUTH ASIA WORKSHOP ON IMPLEMENTATION OF
UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1540
HOTEL HILTON, COLOMBO, 23 JUNE 2009
Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona
It is my pleasure to welcome the participants at the South Asia Regional Workshop on the Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 dealing with measures to prevent weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-state actors. This Workshop is organized by Sri Lanka and the United States in cooperation with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. I am very encouraged to see such wide participation from the South Asian Region, as well as from relevant UN and other international organizations, regional organizations and NGOs, which play an important role in issues related to the subject. This clearly indicates the importance attached to this matter by the countries of the region.
The threat posed by terrorism is one of the most serious challenges facing the international community today. With its global dimensions and frightening innovations, a recurring nightmare for security authorities is the possibility of non-state groups and terrorists acquiring WMDs or related material. UNSC Resolution 1540 is an important pillar of the international regulatory framework that is designed to prevent non-state actors from acquiring, developing and trafficking in or using nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery. In addition to the several important UN Conventions relating to combating terrorism, the UN Security Council has adopted a series of binding Resolutions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which address this specific concern, including UNSC 1373, UNSC 1540, UNSC 1673 and UNSC1810.
Thus, UNSC 1540 addresses an area which combine international counter-terrorism measures with international efforts to combat proliferation of WMDs and related material to non-state actors. UNSC 1540 outlines a series of measures to be taken by States in achieving this objective, such as establishing domestic controls, effective law enforcement measures and drawing up the required domestic legislative framework.
A notable feature of the 1540 regime is the availability of technical cooperation and offer of assistance among Member States in supporting the domestic implementation of the Resolution by Member States. This Workshop provides South Asian countries with a conducive forum to share experiences and information, identify common challenges and highlight areas where technical assistance may be required or offered. Furthermore, the implementation of UNSC 1540 requires coordination and awareness at the national level among a number of Government line agencies. In this light, I am pleased to note that the Workshop has also encouraged cross-sectoral participation from national delegations, including from Sri Lanka.
As a country that had been affected by terrorism for several decades, Sri Lanka fully recognizes the devastating impact on international peace and security, national security and the economy arising from terrorism, as well as from the frightening prospect of WMDs falling into the hands of terrorist groups. The economic impact of the use of a WMDs by a terrorist entity, could be devastating. In recent years, States have become increasingly vulnerable to terrorism. Simultaneously concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, safety and security have increased worldwide. We therefore consider international initiatives aimed at combating this threat to be a high priority. We support multilateral, multi-national and bilateral measures relating to preventing WMD and related material from falling into the hands of terrorist groups and related issues of nuclear safety and security. Some of the instruments and arrangements to which Sri Lanka fully subscribes, such as UNSC 1540 directly address this issue, while other older instruments are supportive of a broader framework of non-proliferation.
Sri Lanka will continue to support global measures to counter the scourge of terrorism, including the early conclusion of the Global Convention on Terrorism. In addition to subscribing to the UN Conventions dealing with Terrorism, Sri Lanka is party to the NPT treaty and its related Safeguard Agreements as well as other related Agreements under the framework of the IAEA, such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident among others. We are partners in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism as well as in the Proliferation Security Initiative and its related activities. We have reported under our obligations relating to UNSC 1540 and UNSC 1373. In the regional context, we are party to the SAARC Regional Convention on Terrorism and the SAARC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Under Sri Lanka’s Chairmanship, the SAARC adopted the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism this year. We have taken a number of national legislative and other measures giving effect to these commitments, and the domestic legislation under the Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism is under preparation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sri Lanka submitted its first Report to the 1540 Committee in May 2005, and its Supplementary Report in December 2005. In the preparatory process to this Workshop, we have been able to consult with a number of line Ministries and update the information previously submitted to the 1540 Committee. We have also identified areas in which there are gaps in the domestic legislative and implementation front and where we will benefit by sharing experiences and technical cooperation in addressing these.
An important additional dimension of UNSC 1540 is its focus on illicit trafficking in WMD related material and effective law enforcement measures to detect and deter such trafficking. This requires effective national export and trans-shipment controls, as well as border controls.
As a major Port in the region, and located on a very busy sea lane between East and West Asia, both considered nuclear sensitive regions, Sri Lanka is also particularly concerned regarding the possibility of illicit transfer of WMD related material by sea. We note that the sea lanes adjacent to our shores also are artery along which energy supplies reach some critical markets. We consider it our responsibility to contribute our share in providing security to these sea lanes. In this regard, Sri Lanka is an active participant in the Mega Ports Initiative and the Container Security Initiative, jointly with the US Government. The goal of the Mega Ports Initiative is to deploy radiation detection systems at the world’s most important sea Ports as a part of global effort to interdict illicit movement of nuclear materials. The Colombo Port is the first such Port in the region where both systems are operating. Under the Mega Ports Initiative, 18 portal monitors were installed in the Colombo harbour. This enhances our ports ability to screen cargo for nuclear and radioactive material and to share relevant data thus contributing to combating possible acts of nuclear terrorism. I am pleased that the programme for this Workshop includes a visit to the megaports facility.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sri Lanka has grappled with terrorism over the past 30 years, and recently been successful in defeating the LTTE, a terrorist group proscribed in over 30 democracies world-wide. Our experience has strengthened our resolve to support international efforts to combat this dangerous scourge in all its dimensions. We therefore support the strengthening of international measures in this regard, including enhanced cooperation among all States. We fully acknowledge that terrorism is not a problem limited to individual states. It is a global problem that needs to be addressed through common action.
In conclusion, let me express my appreciation to all those who helped in organizing this evening, in particular, to my colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to all the participants, who have come to Colombo for this Workshop. I also wish to extend my appreciation to the line Ministries who have cooperated closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in all aspects of this Workshop. I hope that your discussions will lead to a constructive outcome in furthering the objectives of UNSC 1540.
Finally, I would also like to thank the US Embassy in Colombo for making this event a reality and for all the support you have extended to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard.