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Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 Essay


In a modern globalized world, preference is given to regulating international relations by means of treaties and conventions, developed and signed by global organizations and the community of nations. One of such documents is UNSR 1540 – the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which was adopted on April 28, 2004. The major aim of the resolution is to support anti-terrorist efforts in the modern society.

The purpose of the document is to require the signatory powers to promote the struggle against terrorism by adopting and enforcing relevant national legislation as well as appropriate measures restraining the proliferation of nuclear weapons that are used for terrorist purposes (United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, n.d.). Being a comprehensive document in the sphere of supporting and guaranteeing global peace, UNSCR 1540 is still characterized by prominent strengths and significant weaknesses.

The resolution was designed and adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and realizing that terrorism has become a real source of threat in the modern world. The main reason that motivated the United Nations to work on such a document was the information that terrorist organizations are interested in using nuclear weapons for mass destruction purposes. Therefore, a collective effort to suppress them was a critical measure for supporting global peace.

Nevertheless, the process of implementing the document was lengthy and cumbersome. To begin with, nowadays, around 170 nations report on the status of adopting the resolution (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2015). Even though it seems to be a success, in fact, the reports are ambiguous and not all of them reflect the readiness for implementing the document. Such ambivalence in perceiving the resolution is connected to one of its primary weaknesses – wording.

In this case, it is essential to note that although all statements are clear, the resolution lacks the main success factor – the clarity of measures to be taken in order to adopt effective legislation and promote anti-terrorist efforts. As a result, the signatory powers lack understanding of the main provisions of the document or perceive it ambiguously.

Except for the wording, there are other significant weaknesses of the resolution. For instance, it is declarative. It means that regardless of requiring all states to adopt appropriate legislation, no measures controlling this process are identified. More than that, it is designed in general and collective terms. This weakness is associated with ignoring local and regional specificities of the states (Scheinman & Bergenas, n.d.). It stands for developing general recommendations for all states without regard to their level of legal development, relations with neighboring states and the global community, resources for adopting necessary legislation, and the risks of terrorist activities in the region. Furthermore, it means that no additional assistance of the United Nations is provided in case of necessity because no regional focus is specified.

Still, regardless of some significant weaknesses, there are some prominent strengths of the resolution. First and foremost, it is a comprehensive document. It means that its provisions clearly state what the desirable outcome of signing it is. In particular, the resolution calls for refraining non-state actors from their effort to transport, acquire, transfer, use, possess, manufacture or develop mass destruction weapons – chemical, nuclear, and biological (United Nations Security Council, 2004). In this way, it is as well clear in terms of identifying the main focus of anti-terrorist effort – non-state organizations. From this perspective, state armament initiatives aimed at strengthening national security are not limited or suppressed by the global community.

Moreover, the resolution can be treated as a global forum for disarmament and anti-terrorist effort. Because the document calls for global and regional cooperation, the signatory powers are free to ask for assistance in developing necessary and relevant legislation as well as adopting appropriate anti-terrorist measures. It is of significant importance for the third-world countries because they are poorly represented in the UN processes and their reports on UNCSR 1540 implementation are rarely delivered.

More than that, it can be used as a forum for international negotiations and discussions, which means that collective measures can be easily designed and declared (Scheinman & Bergenas, n.d.). As a result, the main strength of the resolution is that it can become the ground for enhancing regional cooperation if interpreted effectively and unambiguously. From this perspective, it can helpful for uniting against the global terrorism threat.

Regardless of the strengths of the resolution, it is commonly disrespected. It can be explained by the fact that even though its character is binding, no measures controlling its implementation or connected sanctions are identified. The lack of reports on the adoption of the resolution, as well as the difference in their quality and depth, is one of the main examples of disrespecting this document.

In this case, the main challenge is that the trend towards ignoring the provisions of the regulation is characteristic of the developing world. Nowadays, the Middle East and Asian states mainly disrespect the resolution (Adams & Khalil, n.d.; Scheinman & Bergenas, n.d.). Such a development proves that regardless of being a comprehensive document, it cannot guarantee global peace because the states known for the most active development of terrorist organizations do not support the implementation of the resolution.

However, the trend towards disrespecting and ignoring the UNSCR 1540 can be explained not only by the lack of sanctions and controlling measures but also the difference in perceiving it. In this way, the choice to avoid implementing it is connected to the variety of opinions regarding its effectiveness. Nowadays, the resolution is a subject of a severe and active public debate. The main challenge is that regardless of the need for fostering anti-terrorism effort, some states do not believe that the resolution is helpful for coping with the risks.

For instance, China and Russia do not support the need for this global initiative, while the United Kingdom and the United States see it as the main instrument for achieving effective international cooperation and global peace (“Open debate and adoption of Resolution on the 1540 comprehensive review,” 2016). In this way, there is a significant inconsistency in opinions about the resolution.

Summing up, UNSCR 1540 is a subject of debates and criticism. Still, in case of reaching a shared vision of the document, it can become the main tool for eradicating the risks of terrorism in the modern world. It can be explained by the potential consequences of the universal implementation of the resolution, such as the suppression of the access of non-state organizations to the weapons of mass destruction and, as a result, the creation of effective national, regional, and global controls in this area (Gibson & Shirazyan, 2012). Nevertheless, to achieve them, additional effort is necessary.


Adams, J., & Khalil, A. (n.d). Achieving a balanced implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the Middle East as an example. Web.

Gibson, J. M., & Shirazyan, S. (2012). . Web.

Nuclear Threat Initiative. (2015). . Web.

. (2016). Web.

Scheinman, L., & Bergenas, J. (n.d.). . Web.

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. (n.d.). . Web.

United Nations Security Council. (2004). . Web.

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"Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540." IvyPanda, 21 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/antiterrorism-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1540/.

1. IvyPanda. "Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540." November 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/antiterrorism-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1540/.


IvyPanda. "Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540." November 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/antiterrorism-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1540/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540." November 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/antiterrorism-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1540/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Antiterrorism: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540'. 21 November.

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