29 June, 2014

Crowdsourcing of 1540 implementation monitoring

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The Situation

UN Security Council resolution 1540, was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter on 28th April 2004, and requires states to adopt a range of measures to prevent the involvement of non-state actors in proliferation. Under the resolution, states may need to implement up to around 300 specific actions. While resolution 1540 was adopted primarily to respond to the threat that non-state actors could acquire, or help other states to acquire, WMD, these 300 plus measures also form the basis for several other non-proliferation and security tools. Full implementation of 1540 could result in states meeting treaty obligations, better implementing UN sanctions, meeting nuclear security standards and more. Therefore, 1540 is potentially a globally accepted and applicable foundation instrument for all future efforts to prevent the proliferation of WMD.


The Challenge

Presently, however, there is an insufficient understanding of how 1540 is being implemented at the national level. There are two principle tools that could help to build this  understanding. First, under resolution 1540, states are asked to report to the 1540 Committee on how the resolution’s obligations are being met. The quality of national reporting is, however, variable. Around two dozen states have not yet reported by submitting a report to the Committee. Of those that have submitted reports, many have not adequately provided sufficient information for a full understanding of implementation efforts to be gained.

The second mechanism is the matrices maintained by the 1540 group of experts. The group is tasked with maintaining matrices for each of the 193 states recognised by the UN. Each  matrix has some 300 rows, many of which seek information on both legislation and enforcement. In short, the expert group is tasked with maintaining some 60,000 line entries – a significant and difficult task. The Committee does publish the matrices online, but these are  presented only in PDF format. This format is inflexible, and does not permit them to be regularly updated or afford the possibility of viewing implementation on a regional level or on a thematic basis


The Proposal: Crowdsourcing 1540 Implementation Reporting

It is proposed that relevant civil society organisations be asked to contribute to the maintenance of the tool - an online database containing the 1540 matrix questions. In many countries and regions around the world elements of civil society has experience in working on 1540 implementation. Civil society also has linguistic capabilities and other local understanding that may not be available to the group of experts. In short, civil society is well placed to help to build an understanding of 1540 implementation.

It is recognised that for the tool to be useful, reporting must be accurate. To ensure that entries into the tool are accurate, it is proposed that all comments must be reviewed by an appropriate authority. It is necessary at this point to consider who the authorities are: presently it is the 1540 Committee that must sign off the matrices, which are maintained by the group of experts. National authorities could also sign off on their matrices to satisfy the reporting requirement of 1540. If neither the 1540 Committee / group of experts or national authorities are available to review the amendments proposed by civil society, civil society could look to self-moderate comments, but this would likely result in the tool being used solely as a civil society effort rather than an UN-led initiative.


The Participants

Alpha of King’s College London has commissioned development of a 1540 implementation monitoring tool. It is proposed that the tool will be owned by the “Collaboration on Open Source and Trade Analysis for Non-proliferation Purposes” (COSTA-NP) – a collaboration in which NGO and think tanks working on 1540-related issues are invited to participate.[1]

The Tool

An online tool has been developed and is in its initial testing phase. It can be viewed at the following link: (www.acsss.info/1540reports/index.php). It is envisioned that the features of this tool will evolve based upon feedback from this proposal document. The following is a summary of the tool’s features:

  • All current 1540 matrix reports have been imported
  • Reports can now be searched on a thematic, a country, or a regional basis
  • Registered users can now propose both amendments to entries and also a rating on each entry at three levels: none, partly, fully.
  • Amendments must be accepted (or rejected) by an administrator prior to their incorporation into a ‘modified’ report, one of which is maintained for each country.
  • Modified reports can be exported in PDF of CSV formats for further data analytics or for formal submission to the committee.
  • Overall implementation can be measured using the tool, but thought must be given as to whether this feature should be included in the online tool.[2] The overall implementation uses a combination of the “rating” submitted on each entry and a categorisation of each question into “essential” and “desirable”.

Next Steps

Alpha invites civil society to respond to this proposal. Feedback should, where possible, be submitted by the end of June 2014. Alpha also invites civil society to consider whether they would be able to contribute to implementation of this proposal through participation  in COSTA-NP1.

[1] See www.costa-np.info for more information on COSTA-NP

[2] The goal in creating this tool has not been to produce a ranking system for national implementation of 1540. It is recognised that the tool could be used to implement this, but it is not necessarily the case that the tool should be used to implement this. 

Sectoral Guidance