The risk of nuclear or other radioactive material being used for terrorist or other criminal purposes by non-State actors continues to be one of the most serious threats of our time.
This is precisely why universal adherence to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) remains an essential goal.
ICSANT contributes to a safer world by facilitating international cooperation, including the exchange of information on nuclear security threats, as well as prosecution and extradition of alleged offenders.
On 18 September in Vienna, Austria, UNODC, in cooperation with UNOCT and the European Union (EU), launched the new EU project Union Support for the Universalisation and Effective implementation of ICSANT.
The event, attended by more than 60 participants representing 34 Member States, was opened with a welcome video address by Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNODC, Ms Ghada Waly.
“Through the launch of this new project, we will continue to expand this work over the next three years across the globe. We will be developing innovative toolkits tailored for legal and technical practitioners, as well as training new generations of judges and prosecutors on the mechanisms of the Convention” highlighted Ms Waly.
Ms Waly also explained that, to date, UNODC has trained thousands of government officials on robust measures to prevent nuclear terrorism thanks to funding from Canada and the EU.
Mr Raffi Gregorian, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General and Director, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), addressing the audience via video-message, thanked UNODC for the ongoing collaboration and announced that UNOCT will also launch the project at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
H.E. Ambassador Carl Hallergard, Head of the Delegation of the EU to the International Organizations in Vienna stressed the importance of cooperation and assured States parties that the EU will remain at the forefront of international efforts to strengthen global nuclear security. "I cannot emphasize enough that while the responsibility for nuclear security rests within each individual State, our collective capability to effectively fight terrorism and organised crime requires broad, continuous and wide-ranging international and regional cooperation", he highlighted.
H.E. Ambassador Ms Eglantina Gjermeni of Albania provided participants with an insight to Albania’s journey towards becoming the 121st State party to ICSANT and emphasized the instrumental role that UNODC played in this regard: “Co-operation between Albania and the UNODC on ICSANT goes back to 2018, when the UNODC presented on ICSANT at the Albania-IAEA Integrated Nuclear Security Sustainability Plan meeting, and ICSANT was included as a milestone in the plan. A dialogue between my country and the UNODC started on the convention. This dialogue included interactions even during pandemic, through online meetings with national stakeholders.”
H.E. Ambassador Dr Juan Francisco Facetti of Paraguay stressed that the importance of the universalization and effective implementation of the ICSANT could not be overstated. He noted “States are committed to exercise their inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and have committed to maintaining the highest standards of nuclear security within their jurisdictions, yet the threats and risks of diversion for criminal purposes are very real and we must continue working together to ensure a robust legal framework that effectively prevents and suppresses acts of nuclear terrorism.”
During the event, Ms Francesca Andrian and Mr Artem Lazarev of UNODC, and Ms Fanny Fert of UNOCT reflected on the achievements of the first project funded by the EU in support of ICSANT (2019-2023) and outlined the priorities, upcoming activities and services available to Member States under the new project (2023-2026).
In closing, Mr Masood Karimipour, Chief of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of UNODC, encouraged more States to join ICSANT, recognized progress made through increased international cooperation, thanked participants and presenters, as well as expressed UNODC’s gratitude to the EU for their continued support in the fight against nuclear terrorism.
You can find more information on activities implemented and tools developed by UNODC on the UNODC ICSANT website.