Nuclear terrorism represents one of our greatest global challenges. In order to tackle this threat, and guided by the principle that only a solid and adequate legal framework can serve as a cornerstone to build States’ capacities in this regard, the international community has elaborated a set of international legal instruments criminalizing certain acts by non-State actors involving nuclear weapons or nuclear or other radioactive materials. The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) is one of these instruments, and represents a key tool in the fight against nuclear terrorism: the Convention, in fact, provides the basis for the harmonization of criminalization provisions across jurisdictions, thus enhancing the framework for, and facilitating, international cooperation against acts of terrorism involving nuclear or other radioactive material.
ICSANT is one of the 19 international legal instruments against terrorism that UNODC is mandated to promote by the United Nations General Assembly. Since its adoption in 2005, UNODC has devoted increasing efforts to promote the universalization and effective implementation of ICSANT, highlighting the benefits of adhering to it, offering technical legal assistance and building the capacities of relevant stakeholders.
The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) opened for signature in 2005 and entered into force in 2007. It requires each State party to adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences under its national law certain specified offences relating to the possession, use, or threat of use of nuclear or other radioactive material or a device, damage to nuclear facilities in a manner which releases or risks the release of radioactive material, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, substantial damage to property or to the environment. It also requires each State party to adopt such measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences under its national law certain specified offences relating to threats of use or unlawful demands for access to nuclear and other radioactive material or nuclear facilities. It obligates States parties to establish jurisdiction over the offences under certain circumstances.
ICSANT also requires States parties to afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with investigations or criminal or extradition proceedings brought in respect of the offences set out in ICSANT. Cooperation under ICSANT includes exchanging information in accordance with national law related to the detection, prevention, suppression and investigation of offences set out in the Convention. It also requires States parties to undertake certain measures related to handling radioactive material, devices and facilities when seized following the commission of an offence set forth in the Convention.
From UNODC' s Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum Module 6: The
International Legal Framework against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism, pg. 3.