Daily Archives: April 12, 2018

Government hosts technical media briefing on preparations for funeral of late Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 13 Apr

Members of the media are advised to attend a technical briefing ahead of the funeral service and burial of the late Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The briefing will address logistical issues pertaining to the broadcast, camera positions, media transportation, parking, access to the funeral venue, etc. This is to ensure a smooth operation on the day of the funeral.

Source: Government of South Africa

Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson: Launch of Mayibuye Game Reserve Wildlife Economy Pilot Project

Speech by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson at the launch of the Mayibuye Game Reserve Wildlife Economy Pilot Project, Umkhambathini Local Municipality, 12 April 2018

The Executive Mayor of Msunduzi local municipality

Your Royal Highnesses

The Provincial leadership gathered here today

The Regional Land Claims Commission

The Mayibuye Community Trust;

The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation who are the current project implementing agent.

Moputso Pty (Ltd.) who is the project equity partner

Business for Good (BfG) who is one of the founding strategic partners of the overall project.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife,

Ladies and Gentlemen

April is a significant period in our country because it is the month in which we celebrate Freedom Day. Freedom Day is a celebration of our triumph over apartheid and its injustice and tyranny that condemned our people to a life of extreme poverty, economic deprivation and land dispossession.

As we gather here today we are also mourning the loss of one of the people that made it possible for us to celebrate Freedom Day, Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela. It is appropriate that as we gather here we should take this time and observe a moment of silence in remembrance of this gallant fighter and icon of our Liberation Struggle.

Mama Winnie was the face of our liberation struggle during the worst period of repression. She bravely resisted all attempts by the Apartheid State to silence her from speaking against the evils the apartheid system visited upon our people.

She bravely spoke out against the forceful dispossession of our people’s land. She bravely spoke out against the exclusion of the majority of South Africans from meaningful participation in the national economy of the country. She bravely spoke out against a system that saw the accumulation of vast wealth by the white minority at the expense of the black majority.

She left us at a time when the economic structure in essence, still excludes the majority of South Africans who happens to be Africans, young and female. In order to honour the legacy of Mamma Winnie we must fundamentally transform the structural inequalities in our national economy so that more of the previously marginalised people can meaningfully participate and significantly share in benefits of a transformed and inclusive economy.

Our task as handed down by Mamma Winnie is to improve the position of women, youth and communities in the economy to ensure that they are owners, managers, producers and financiers. All sectors of society including the environmental sector are thus called upon to devise plans that can contribute to achieving this task.

The environmental sector is ideally placed to increase the ownership percentage of black women, youth and communities in our economy through the identification of economic opportunities associated with the sustainable use of our diverse range of natural resources or biodiversity.

Biodiversity is globally recognised as a basis for economic growth and sustainable development. With South Africa being the 3rd most mega-diverse country, the economic opportunities are endless.

To exploit these economic opportunities the Department of Environmental Affairs has commenced with plans to transform two sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy, that is, the wildlife and bio-prospecting sectors within the ambit of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (NBES) and implementation plan.

This will be done through creating opportunities, ensuring a conducive environment for business to operate, developing and implementing support mechanism that will see meaningful participation of Previously Disadvantaged Individuals including communities in the mainstream economy.

To give you some perspective of the enormous potential of the South African wildlife sector, I have been informed that the sector currently employs approximately 100 000 people across the value chain. The sector’s value chain is centred on game and wildlife farming/ranching activities that relate to the stocking, trading, breeding, and hunting of game, and all the services and goods required to support this value chain.

The key drivers of this value chain include domestic hunters, international hunters and a growing retail market demand for wildlife products.

It is believed that the domestic hunting market was approximately R6.4 billion while the international hunting market was approximately R1.4 billion in 2013. In addition to hunting, game farmers can generate income from the sale of game meat, wildlife products and live game.

The retail and export game meat market was estimated at R230 million in 2013. The Sector also has little domestic and international market multiplier effect and job creation characteristics of the tourism industry and, it is therefore also an industry with a large economic transformation potential.

Unfortunately, the structural inequalities characterising our economy has placed several barriers, including insufficient access, ownership and inefficient utilisation of land and lack of infrastructure development support for entrepreneurs on black South Africans.

In particular, high capital costs for acquiring land, fencing and game species are major barriers to entry and transformation. Overcoming these barriers to entry or challenges requires coordinated efforts from the government, private sector and communities.

We are currently working together with other stakeholders within the sector to identify ten million hectares of suitable land for participation of previously disadvantaged individuals and communities as owners of sustainable wildlife-based business ventures.

Support programmes such as infrastructural development (game fence, ecotourism facilities etc), game donation/loaning, skills development and training, access to markets and funding will be facilitated to ensure sustainable businesses.

It is within this context that we must view today’s official launch of the Mayibuye Game Reserve. The local community, the Ximba people, were awarded a land restitution claim in terms of a settlement agreement in April 2007.

The Mayibuye Community Trust formed by the community entered into a 99-year lease with the developer and the strategic development partner, whereby the land would be developed into a game reserve with a component of residential property, commercial sites and hotels.

The Mayibuye Game Reserve has made significant progress since the R10 million funding received from the Department. A 35 km wildlife fence has been erected, a gate house and offices are being built, two houses have been refurbished, 15 Field Rangers have been trained and employed while a commercial Business for Good site has been refurbished and wildlife introductions (zebra & wildebeest) have been initiated. In terms of employment, 76 temporary EPWP jobs have been created through erection of the fence. This has unlocked a further R100 million private investment for the development of the eco-estate.

As government we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the various stakeholders involved in the Mayibuye Game Reserve project, in particular the following entities:

The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation (a registered Non-Profit conservation and humanitarian organisation founded by internationally acclaimed conservationist and world renowned author � Dr Lawrence Anthony) who are also the lead applicant to the funding application, and current project implementing agent.

Moputso Pty (Ltd.) an equity partner who has provided the necessary start-up capital and has, to date, contributed in excess of R18,000,000 to the project, taking the business well into the development phase.

The Mayibuye Community Trust comprising of 454 claimants who own a 50% share in the development company � Pamish Investments;

Business for Good (BfG) as a first commercial partner will provide an entry for the community into the market place and is already set to build a steel fabrication factory which will employ 200 people in the next 6 months. The employees who will all be from the beneficiary communities will have a 51% shareholding in the company, with an estimated monthly turnover of R 2.5 million. BfG is one of the founding strategic partners of the overall project.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is a strategic partner that will incorporate its Nagle Dam nature reserve into the greater game reserve, as well as donate wildlife stocking populations for the game reserve. In this regard I want to acknowledge the commitment made by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to loan game species to the Mayibuye community. The species to be loaned include 18 Blue Wildebeest, 14 Zebra, 6 Giraffe and 40 Impala.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Mayibuye Game Reserve is a success story in the making that will fundamentally transform the rural economic landscape in the area.

It is a consequence of our commitment as government and relevant stakeholders to work together to ensure a thriving, inclusive and sustainable wildlife economy for the well-being of all South Africans.

This partnership between government and key stakeholders was further cemented at the recently concluded 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba in East London through pledges by key stakeholders in the wildlife, bioprospecting/biotrade and eco-tourism sectors to ensure greater inclusivity and transformation.

Amongst others, the pledges included the South African National Parks (SANParks) which undertook to donate 3 000 head of game to emerging wildlife farmers in the next three years, the pledge to donate 1 200 head of game over four years by Ezemvelo KZN wildlife, and the promise to donate 1 500 animals by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency in support of transformation and mobilisation of rural previously disadvantaged communities over five years.

Let me conclude by saying that I have no doubt the commitments made will materialise. We are on course to effect fundamental change through this initiative that will irrevocably change our rural landscapes from economically depressed and poverty stricken areas into prosperous communities.

Thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

In Congo, Rwandan Hutus in Limbo as Refugee Status Evaporates

“They are telling me to go. Go where? What would I do back there? Everyone’s dead,” says Gilbert Bigirimana, an 18-year-old Rwandan living in the Republic of Congo who has never set foot on Rwandan soil.

Bigirimana is among thousands of Rwandans who, a generation after the Rwandan genocide, are living in a void, adrift in their host country and fearful of returning home.

Most of those in limbo are Hutus, who fled the country after leaders of their ethnic group orchestrated the 1994 mass slaughter of minority Tutsis before being ousted by a Tutsi-backed campaign.

Many first headed to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

But two wars a ghastly repercussion of the Rwandan genocide forced thousands farther west to the Republic of Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville, a small country of about five million people.

Plagued by uncertainty

Today, many of this group, and their descendants, live in chronic uncertainty.

Most of them, around 9,200, have lost their refugee status, revoked because it was deemed that they no longer face persecution in Rwanda.

As refugees, under international law they had enjoyed specific protection by their host state and could not be forcibly returned to their home country.

Brazzaville’s decision, criticized by Congolese aid groups, to strip them of their refugee status took effect Dec. 31, 2017.

“Those who did not get an exemption are now considered to be undocumented on Congolese soil,” the Brazzaville government stated recently.

Jean-Claude Kourouma, the UN refugee agency’s bureau chief in Betou, a city in northern Congo that took in nearly 1,900 Rwandan refugees last year, said no perpetrators of the genocide could have obtained refugee status.

Around 100 Rwandans decided to return home before the New Year’s Eve deadline, while others have returned since.

Five families have taken steps to become Congolese, beginning with applying for Rwandan passports, which would in turn allow them to seek citizenship here, Kourouma said.

‘They’ll massacre us’

But for people like Bigirimana, the future is deeply clouded.

He says he has no intention of moving to a country that he knows only through the stories real or embroidered that he has heard from compatriots who fled fearing reprisals, after Paul Kagame set up his Tutsi-led government in Kigali, which he heads to this day.

“Kagame favours his race,” declared Bigirimana, a Hutu.

“If we go there, they will massacre us,” he said even though a founding principle of the country’s 2003 constitution is the “eradication of ethnic divisions”.

But staying put in Congo-Brazzaville also offers little hope for him.

He is the oldest of six children, with an ailing mother. Without refugee status, the family no longer receives food rations.

“I am the only one working to feed my five little brothers and sisters,” he said. “I grow food in a small garden and try to go to school. But how can I do everything on my own?”

Odyssey of flight

Among other cases in the camp, Antoinette Mokamakombe, 28, obtained an exemption to losing her refugee status. Her plight was judged “exceptional” because she had fled a series of conflicts.

After leaving Rwanda for the DRC, she fled war there in the late 1990s for the Central African Republic, where conflict again forced her to flee this time to Congo-Brazzaville.

She declined to go into detail about her ordeal, saying searching her dark memories gave her headaches.

“I will stay on [in Congo] as long as there is peace,” she said.

Mokamakombe is among 802 Rwandan refugees who won the coveted exemption, Kourouma said, adding that it applied to people who were “in a special situation that threatens their security.”

While several thousand Rwandans fled to Congo, around 1 million fled just across the border into the DRC, then called Zaire.

On a visit to the DRC’s main eastern city of Goma on Sunday, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi promised to facilitate the return home of Rwandans still in the region.

But in Betou, Bigirimana told AFP bluntly: “I would rather stay here until they bury me.”

Source: Voice of America

Study: Popularity of Wildlife Can Harm Public’s Perception

Researchers say the love youngsters have for wildlife may be clouding the public’s mind about how endangered those creatures are.

The study in the journal PLOS Biology lists what the authors say are the world’s 10 most charismatic animals: tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, leopards, pandas, cheetahs, polar bears, gray wolves and gorillas.

The common depiction of these animals in cartoons and movies and as toys has led to what the authors call “virtual populations” people believe the animals are not at risk of extinction in the wild because they appear to be everywhere.

The study uses the popular French baby toy “Sophie the Giraffe” as an example. Eight hundred thousand Sophie toys were sold in France in 2010 more than eight times the number of real giraffes living in Africa.

The authors recommend that toy companies and others who use endangered species as trademarks donate some of their profits to wildlife conservation.

Source: Voice of America

Meeting on Non-proliferation, Security Council Members Voice Grave Concern over Rapid Increase in Chemical Weapon Attacks

Security Council members citing multiple incidents involving the alleged use of weapons of mass destruction vowed to redouble efforts to keep such deadly agents out of the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors, as they considered the work of the 1540 Committee created for that purpose 14 years ago.

Meeting to hear an annual briefing by the Chair of that body � known formally as the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) � members of the 15-nation organ voiced grave concern over the rapidly increasing number of allegations of chemical weapons attacks in recent months. Among others were reports that such weapons had been employed this week in the Syrian town of Douma; allegations of a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom, in March; and the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia. Many said those incidents laid bare the very real, and constantly evolving, potential of weapons of mass destruction use by State and non-State actors.

Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz (Bolivia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the 1540 Committee, told the Council that overseeing the 2004 resolution’s implementation had become a truly challenging task. Outlining the Committee’s recent activities, as well as the priorities laid out in its 2018 programme of work agreed to this morning he described efforts in such areas as information sharing, monitoring, outreach and match making between States requesting technical assistance and those able to support them. The Committee had helped support Member States in developing and putting in place voluntary national implementation plans, he said, adding that its Expert Group had met with several United Nations counter-terrorism officials to discuss scientific and technological trends and the risk of their misuse by non-State actors.

The representative of the United Kingdom declared: It is clear that we stand on the cusp of a nightmare in which weapons of mass destruction could be used with impunity. Recalling that the Joint Investigative Mechanism created in 2015 to investigate chemical weapons use had determined that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had used mustard gas in Syria and Iraq, she added that a planned chemical weapons attack in Australia had been thwarted in 2017. In acts of unbelievable irresponsibility, the risk had been exacerbated by the use of weapons of mass destruction by State actors in Salisbury, as well as the Syrian towns of Khan Shaykhun and Douma. It was not enough for the Council to condemn such actions, she stressed, calling for members to also act with meaningful consequences.

The representative of Sweden was among several speakers voicing concern over the clear and present danger posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to � and through � non-State actors. Noting that the global regime set up to protect against that risk was under immense pressure, she agreed with others that the repeated use of chemical weapons seen in recent years could not be allowed to become the new normal. It was critical to hold perpetrators to account and show the world that the use of those weapons remained unacceptable. Among other issues, she underlined the need to address risks associated with intangible transfers of technology, whereby sensitive know-how might be transferred through research, industry or social media.

The representative of Equatorial Guinea, expressing concern over the growing threat posed by terrorism around the world, emphasized that efforts by States in such areas as tracking and monitoring at border crossings would have little effect if developing countries were not supported in developing similar systems. All categories of weapons of mass destruction must be destroyed, he stressed, voicing disappointment that the Council had once again showed itself incapable of effectively protecting the lives of the Syrian people. Against the backdrop of recent events, its members should redouble efforts to create a new mechanism aimed at monitoring and attributing responsibility for chemical weapons use.

Peru’s representative, serving as Council President for April, said in his national capacity that all weapons of mass destruction posed a major threat to international peace and security. Calling on the international community to stand together in confronting new challenges to the global non-proliferation regime, he drew attention to addressing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme. Equally important was preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and ensuring its strict monitoring and implementation. Voicing concern that illicit financial transactions and technology transfers could lead to the further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said all countries should put in place effective export controls in line with resolution 2325 (2016).

The representative of the Russian Federation said the fight against weapons of mass destruction was a political and military priority for his country. Emphasizing that resolution 1540 (2004) was a tool for cooperation, he said responsibility for its implementation was borne by States, with others � such as regional organizations, industry and civil society � playing a subsidiary role. With ISIL and other groups having mastered chemical weapons technology, the heinous phenomenon of chemical weapons must be suppressed in a concerted way, he said, warning of the risk of terrorists seeking cover in third countries. Everything said about the incidents in Salisbury and Douma so far remained unsubstantiated, he stressed, expressing support for their respective investigations by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Also speaking today were the representatives of the Netherlands, France, United States, Poland, Kazakhstan, CAte d’Ivoire, China, Ethiopia and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 11:36 a.m.

Briefing

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLA�Z (Bolivia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), emphasized that the body was a platform for cooperation to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. Describing its recent activities, and plans for its upcoming work, he declared: We have a truly challenging task in overseeing the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004). Noting that its 2018 programme of work would be submitted shortly, he said, among other things, it planned to hold discussions on enforcing appropriate laws for the prohibition of activities under paragraph 2 of resolution 1540 (2004) and to take note of the evolving nature of proliferation risks. It would also hold a closed expert-level meeting to consider issues highlighted in resolution 2325 (2016).

Regarding reporting from Member States, he said 180 nations had submitted national reports to the Committee to date, also encouraging them to inform the body of their national points of contact for resolution 1540 (2004)’s implementation. Over the review period, the Committee had continued its efforts to support regional and subregional organizations in assisting Member States to develop and put in place voluntary national implementation plans for the implementation of the resolution. Outlining such activities as information sharing, monitoring and efforts to enhance the Committee’s match making efforts to connect States requesting assistance with those able to support them, he said it had also held several resolution 1540 (2004) training courses and conducted various regional, subregional and international outreach events. The Committee also continued to develop its website as a tool to raise public awareness and serve as a source of information on its work, he said.

On 24 December 2017, he continued, the Secretary-General had appointed six new members to the Expert Group of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). A process to select the Group’s Coordinator would begin soon. Outgoing Council members Japan and Egypt had, respectively, served as the Coordinators of the Committee’s working group I on monitoring and national implementation, and working group III on cooperation with international organizations, including the sanctions committee related to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida and the Counter Terrorism Committee. Welcoming Enri Prieto of Peru as the incoming Coordinator of the working group on monitoring and national implementation � and Antonin Bieke from CAte d’Ivoire as Coordinator of the working group on cooperation with international organizations, including the Sanctions Committees � he said Bolivia planned to host a conference on resolution 1540 (2004)’s implementation in May for countries of the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Turning to cooperation with international and regional organizations and United Nations entities, especially those tasks set out in resolution 2325 (2016), he said the Expert Group had already held a meeting with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate to prepare future country visits, and with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force on how best to collaborate in support of the 1540 Committee’s activities, particularly with respect to scientific and technological trends and the risk of misuse by non-State actors. The Committee was also continuing its work on the Wiesbaden Process, which called for an active dialogue between States and industry on effective implementation of expert controls. Two regional meetings on that item, one to take place in India and another in the Republic of Korea, were planned for 2018.

Statements

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), recalling that resolution 1540 (2004) was the first topic she worked on the first time she was assigned to the Council a decade ago, said the 1540 Committee was a vital component of the international order that must be supported to the hilt. The Security Council should dread the current situation whereby the use of chemical and biological weapons was becoming routine. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism had found that ISIL/Da’esh had used mustard gas in Syria and Iraq, while a planned chemical weapons attack in Australia was thwarted in 2017. In acts of unbelievable irresponsibility, the risk had been exacerbated by the use of weapons of mass destruction by State actors, she said, citing incidents in Douma, Salisbury and Khan Shaykhun, as well as the assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia. With regard to Salisbury, she said her delegation had requested a Council meeting next week to brief on the outcome of the findings of OPCW. The United Kingdom strongly supported work to increase State capacity for implementing resolution 1540 (2004) and it was encouraging that there now were only 13 non-reporting States. It is clear that we stand on the cusp of a nightmare in which weapons of mass destruction could be used with impunity, she said. It was not enough to condemn � meaningful action with meaningful consequences had to be taken. Regarding work of the 1540 Committee, she said one Council member had sought to slow its progress and dilute the substance of every proposal, with the Panel of Experts even being prevented from travelling. That could not continue, she said, adding that she could not think of any legitimate reason why any country would want to affect the work of the 1540 Committee. The Council must stand up for universal norms and standards built over many years to build a powerful non-proliferation regime, she said.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said the use � and threat of use � of weapons of mass destruction was real. Death came gruesomely to those affected by such weapons, while survivors were left to deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives. Challenges and opportunities presented by scientific and technological developments also had an impact on the situation, and that aspect should not be forgotten by the 1540 Committee in its work. To address the threat, full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) should be a priority for all. The Netherlands was pleased that agreement had been reached on a programme of work for the Committee, but now was not a time for complacency. The body must pursue its work, effectively and efficiently, in line with resolution 2325 (2016), and in particular, the measures contained in clauses 8 and 9 therein.

ANTOINE MICHON (France) drew attention to the persistent risk of a nuclear Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, destabilizing ballistic activity in the Middle East and the re-emergence of chemical weapons in Syria and Salisbury. The risk of non-State actors obtaining weapons of mass destruction was a dangerous reality, as well. Underscoring the importance of the Committee, he paid tribute to the work of the Expert Group, whose efforts were indispensable. While progress had been made in implementation resolution 1540 (2004), much remained to be done. Member States must do more to secure sensitive materials on their territories, he said, noting that France had modernized its legislation to criminalize proliferation activities. Emphasizing that non-proliferation must not be undertaken in an isolated way, he called for a cooperative approach, including at the regional level, and cited steps taken by the European Union in that regard. Synergies must also be stepped up with such bodies as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Customs Union.

AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States) said the shocking use of chemical weapons in Iraq, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, as well as their systematic use in Syria, showed that the risks they posed was all too real today. Given those persistent threats, as well as that of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups, the United States was strengthening its national policies with the aim of ensuring its security and that of the international community. Her country would also continue to provide extensive support to both organizations and countries, and had provided millions of dollars in grants to Committee’s Trust Fund. It was also working on cooperation and export control-related programmes to build trust and improve safety. Expressing regret that it had taken nearly three months to adopt the Committee’s 2018 programme of work, she said the body must now immediately move forward, prioritizing more regular meetings; the process of appointing a new Coordinator for its Expert Group; work to assist States in developing national control lists; and action to address the risks posed by rapid advances in science and technology. Reminding Council members that resolution 1540 (2004) had been adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, she stressed that it was, therefore, binding on all nations.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), noting that his country had presented its national report to the 1540 Committee in 2017, vowed to continue to work towards its full and appropriate implementation. Expressing concern over the growing threat posed by terrorism around the world � as well as the risk that its perpetrators could develop, gain access to or use weapons of mass destruction � he said efforts by States in such areas as tracking and monitoring at border crossings would have little effect if developing countries were not supported in developing similar systems. All categories of weapons of mass destruction must ultimately be destroyed, he stressed, voicing disappointment that the Council had, once again this week, showed itself incapable of effectively protecting the lives of the Syrian people. Calling on all the parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to think of the Syrian civilians as if they are our mothers and fathers, he said the Council should redouble its efforts to create a new mechanism aimed at monitoring and attributing responsibility for chemical weapons use.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), recalling that resolution 2325 (2016) called on States to report on the rapidly evolving threats posed by technological advances, including in dual-use domains, cautioned that non-State actors were becoming more creative in the use of such materials. In that regard, the Joint Investigative Mechanism created to investigate past chemical weapons use in Syria had determined that multiple parties � including, but not limited to, ISIL/Da’esh � had used chemical weapons in that country. Calling for efforts to build more synergies between the Committee and regional organizations and country groupings, she welcomed that the body’s 2018 work programme recognized the need for more regular discussions based on monthly meetings, and expressed hope that the new structure would lead to the better implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) and 2325 (2016) were becoming all the more vital in the face of rapidly increasing threats posed by weapons of mass destruction. Kazakhstan, having long supported the Committee’s work, contributed voluntary contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund for Global and Regional Disarmament Activities. Welcoming the Committee’s outreach activities and its work to address the rapid growth of new technologies, he underlined the need to avoid losing sight of nuclear security. During the recent opening of the IAEA’s new Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan in August 2017, his country’s Government had highlighted the importance of resumed Nuclear Security Summits, which had been conducted by the United States from 2010 to 2016. Emphasizing the importance of such regular meetings to discuss topical issues related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he also voiced support for his Government’s initiative to establish a United Nations Register on Scientific Developments leading to the Creation and Advancement of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which would track such dangerous discoveries.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (CAte d’Ivoire) said that, 14 years after the adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), the threat of weapons of mass destruction was constantly evolving. He emphasized the importance of strict respect for relevant international norms, as well as strengthened cooperation in such areas as border controls and the monitoring of financial flows and Internet networks. Drawing attention to the security of fissile material stockpiles, which were not covered by any international regulations, but could be used to make weapons of mass destruction, he called for strengthening the capacities of Member States to fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction, known as the Chemical Weapons Convention.

WU HAITAO (China), noting that resolution 1540 (2004) was the first Council action dedicated to non-proliferation, emphasized the need to build political consensus. All countries must work towards common and sustainable security, built upon a fair and just security architecture. State responsibility must be strengthened and pragmatic cooperation on non-proliferation deepened, he said, stressing the need to assist developing countries to meet their obligations. He emphasized a fair and balanced approach, with issues being addressed through diplomacy. Unilateralism, double standards and discriminatory practices should be rejected. Turning to the Committee, he said its work must be guided by its mandate under resolution 1540 (2004) to the letter.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the fight against weapons of mass destruction was a political and military priority for his country. There must be concerted and coordinated efforts by all States bar none. We are keen to find common ground with our partners to advance the non-proliferation regime, he said. Noting that the Russian Federation and the United States had been the source of resolution 1540 (2004), he said that text was a tool for cooperation, not coercion. In his delegation’s view, responsibility for implementation was borne by States, with others � such as regional organizations, industry and civil society � playing a subsidiary role. On the resolution’s institutional framework, he said that assessments of the work of the Council’s subsidiary bodies should be approached in a realistic manner, guided by the cooperate and do no harm principle.

With ISIL/Da’esh and other groups having mastered chemical weapons technology, the heinous phenomenon of such weapons must be suppressed in a concerted way, he said, warning of the risk of terrorists seeking cover in third countries. The Russian Federation was eager to strengthen the weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation regime, including through resolution 1540 (2004), and it stood ready to engage with the Chair of the 1540 Committee and its partners in that regard. Turning to Salisbury, he said his delegation was awaiting information from the ongoing investigation as well as responses to the questions it had posed. So far, everything said about incidents in Salisbury and eastern Ghouta had been unsubstantiated. His delegation trusted that OPCW would be allowed to proceed with its work.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said it was concerning that, of the 13 Member States which had yet to submit even their first reports under resolution 1540 (2004), 11 were in Africa. Moreover, that continent remained far behind in terms of overall implementation and the establishment of domestic controls, particularly in relation to materials related to the production of weapons of mass destruction. Calling for enhanced cooperation with the African Union on the issue, he said it was also important for the Committee to work closely with the Expert Group in the area of assistance. Concluding, he reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to undertake all measures to prevent weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands, as that was something that had always worried his country.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) expressed her country’s strong commitment to efforts to strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes. The threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to � and through � non-State actors is constantly evolving, she stressed, adding that the global regime set up to protect against that risk was under immense pressure. The use of chemical weapons by State and non-State actors had been seen repeatedly in recent years, which cannot be allowed to become the new normal, she said, emphasizing the need to hold perpetrators to account and show the world that the use of those weapons remained unacceptable. Echoing regret voiced by other speakers that the Council had failed to establish a new attribution mechanism for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, she also underlined the need to highlight the risks associated with intangible transfers of technology whereby sensitive know-how might be transferred through research, industry or social media. As Vice-Chair of the Committee, Sweden was considering ways to further those efforts. Only though the important non-proliferation mechanisms could the clear and present threats, demonstrated by events in recent days, be managed.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), voicing support for efforts to help States develop road maps to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, welcomed the adoption of the Committee’s programme of work after lengthy negotiations. He also welcomed the programme’s focus on country visits and efforts to address the special conditions of certain States, among other issues. Voicing concern over recent challenges to the global non proliferation regime, he recalled that the Council had met four times in just the last month to address allegations of chemical weapons use in several States. Kuwait had recently appointed a point of contact for interaction with the 1540 Committee and planned to submit its voluntary national report soon.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that all weapons of mass destruction posed major threats to international peace and security. Calling on the international community to stand together in addressing new challenges to the global non proliferation regime, he drew attention to ending the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, as well as preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran � known as the Iran nuclear deal � and ensuring its strict monitoring and implementation. It was also critical to maintain Council unity on efforts to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria and assign responsibly for them. Voicing concern that illicit financial transactions and technology transfers could lead to the further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said all countries should put in place effective export controls in line with resolution 2325 (2016).

Source: United Nations