Opening remarks at the UN High Level Meeting on Countering Nuclear Terrorism, with a Focus on Strengthening the Legal Framework
28 September 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this High Level Meeting on countering nuclear terrorism.
I thank the Secretary-General for his initiative to convene this High-Level Meeting, and to the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force for organizing it.
The CTITF-led partnership between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, International Atomic Energy Agency, Office of Disarmament Affairs and the Office of Legal Affairs on this event, and in this important area, has been highly rewarding.
Furthermore, I thank all Member States and their high-level representatives for their participation.
I am particularly pleased to take the floor on the topic of strengthening the legal framework against nuclear terrorism. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime plays a key role regarding this issue.
UNODC has specifically been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the ratification and effective implementation of the seven conventions and protocols which deal with nuclear terrorism.
Indeed, the UN General Assembly resolution 66/105 adopted on 9 December 2011, entitled "Measures to eliminate international terrorism" specifically requested UNODC to continue its efforts to assist Member States in becoming parties, as well as implementing the relevant international conventions and 18 protocols relating to terrorism.
General Assembly resolution 66/178 on "Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism", adopted a few days later, requested UNODC "to continue to develop specialized legal knowledge in the area of counter-terrorism and pertinent thematic areas […] and to provide assistance to requesting Member States with regard to criminal justice responses to terrorism, including […] nuclear terrorism".
As I have just mentioned, of the 18 universal legal instruments against terrorism seven deal with combating nuclear terrorism. However, the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the 2010 Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts relating to International Civil Aviation have not yet entered into force.
In implementing its mandate, UNODC continues to provide Member States with the necessary tools to effectively implement the relevant international legal framework against nuclear terrorism.
In addition to assisting Member States in all aspects relevant to ratification of legal instruments, we also train criminal justice and law enforcement officials on the effective implementation of the conventions, including through detailed case studies.
Our work involves providing legislative assessments as well as drafting suitable legal provisions. In doing this, we have close working relations with Ministries of Justice, Interior, Defense, Foreign Affairs and Parliament, among many other government institutions.
UNODC also works closely with other relevant international organizations and stakeholders.
We are an active member of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Working Group on Weapons of Mass Destruction, through which we have worked with a number of relevant partners on preparing products that help Member States in addressing measures to prevent and respond to WMD attacks.
In 2009, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism granted UNODC official observer status.
The initiative emphasized that "UNODC's commendable work in addressing issues related to counter terrorism, including nuclear terrorism, has already had a positive impact in promoting implementation of the universal legal framework against terrorism.
This includes the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism".
Finally, allow me to briefly mention two of our upcoming activities relevant to the fight against nuclear terrorism:
- A workshop on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and maritime terrorism for South East Asian countries to be held in December this year.
- Three sub-regional workshops in Africa to promote the ratification and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, which will take place in the next six months.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nuclear terrorism represents one of our greatest global challenges.
By working with UN agencies and other bodies, we are offering an integrated response to this challenge. The Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force has played a key role in organizing this event.
The CTITF is an appropriate and useful forum for a number of topic areas through which UNODC can collaborate with other entities on building national capacities to guard against the threat of nuclear terrorism.
A response founded on the implementation of the relevant international standards; sound detection approaches; coordination between intelligence, law enforcement, judges and prosecutors; and a better understanding of terrorist groups and their working methods.
As part of this response, UNODC's own firm commitment is to continue offering Member States support through legal technical assistance and capacity building in the area of anti-terrorism measures.