Research Pages

Strategic Trade Controls

in Program

Fighting Terrorism and WMD Proliferation 

The Stimson Center has initiated a pilot project to have universities, law schools and law firms help countries fulfill anti-WMD/terrorism obligations. This 2014-2015 pilot project hopes to actively engage civil society in fostering international security.

Background: The United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions requiring States to implement more secure controls to counter terrorism, to prevent support for al-Qaida, and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To comply with these resolutions and other treaty obligations, States want to identify best practices in strategic trade controls, identify the risks in their regions, amend existing legislation/regulations or draft and adopt new ones to fill gaps in their codes, establish specific trade control lists/measures related to items and users, put in place protocols for licensing, and incentivize supportive industry action. Many States with limited capacity find it difficult to implement such measures, while those entities who provide help, such as UN expert groups, also require support to better address all the world’s needs. 

Our Approach: To address this capacity problem, the Stimson Center is piloting a project to assist UN entities and a select number of States through engaging with civil society to assess risks and good practices and to help effect the needed strategic controls. The project’s purpose is not only to further the establishment of strategic controls and capacity in the initially-selected region but also to establish a framework for an approach and a method for systematic engagement that can be replicated with other countries and regions and support other UN efforts. 

For graduate students, law students and law firms, this project presents an opportunity to showcase and further develop their knowledge and expertise in this area and to network with others involved in the effort.

Contact: For more information or to participate – Debra Decker, Senior Advisor – Managing Across Boundaries Initiative at [email protected] or [email protected].

Stimson Connector Initiative

Engaged Organizations

UNLIREC was created to support Latin American and Caribbean States in their implementation of peace and disarmament measures and to promote that region’s economic and social development. 

Nine experts support the work of this UN Security Council Committee, whose State members rotate. Link is to background and info on original resolution and subsequent related ones that require States to target the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery, and associated materials as well as related financing.


The CARICOM Secretariat is the principal administrative organ of the Community and is headed by a Secretary General who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community.

Support for Researchers


Important Informational Documents

Best Practices – information from UN Counter-terrorism Committee, 1540 Committee and others. 

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – Link to site for further research and databases on arms flows, transport, dual-use items, and more

The Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC)

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -The Implementation of Financial Provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolutions to Counter the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction


Major Organizations

The IAEA works for the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear science and technology. Its key roles are to contribute to international peace and security and to the world’s Millennium Goals for social, economic and environmental development.

The OPCW’s main function is to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It supports efforts on demilitarization, non-proliferation and national implementation.

UNODA provides support in the area of disarmament by fostering dialogue, transparency and confidence building on military matters and encourages regional disarmament efforts. It provides implementation support to the Biological Weapons Convention (this link) but also works on conventional arms transfers and other matters of interest to this Trade Controls project.

Members of this voluntary regime seek to harmonize export control policies to prevent proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers, as well as systems 
intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Note that “means of delivery” of WMD in UNSCR 1540 could include missiles or other mechanisms.

The WCO provides leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations to secure and facilitate legitimate trade, realize revenues, protect society and build capacity. The WCO developed a Strategic Trade Control Enforcement Implementation Guide

The WTO helps the international community develop and implement trade rules and provides for mechanisms to resolve disputes. Note that the WTO has focused on expanding trade not on trade controls, the focus of this project. However, WTO has done some related work, such as on corruption.


United Nations – Primary Sources

UN Counter-Terrorism Committee 

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Model laws and treaties

Comparison of Selected UN Security Council Committees – Compares mandates of committees established to effect UNSCR 1267 and 1989, 1373, and 1540


Other United Nations Resources

UNSCR 1540 (2004) concerning WMD and related info 

UNSCR 1373 (2001) on counter-terrorism – Resolution targeting the financing of terrorists by: denying support or safe haven, suppressing recruitment, and eliminating the supply of weapons, facilitating exchange of information, criminalizing terrorism through domestic laws and corresponding punishments, providing effective border control and preventing counterfeiting of documents, strengthening the global response to illegal arms-trafficking and the movement of illicit nuclear, chemical and biological materials. The Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate supports implementation of this resolution.

UNSCR 1267 (1999) & UNSCR1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and Associated Individuals and Entities – Resolution requiring States report on the measures they are taking to freeze funds, ban travel and implement an arms embargo against designated individuals and other entities. A monitoring team of experts issues annual reports

UN Sixth Committee (Legal support to General Assembly) Anti-terror Conventions – According to the Committee, there are “currently 40 instruments, 18 universal (14 instruments and 4 recent amendments) and 22 regional, pertaining to the subject of international terrorism.”

Other Resources – information from the Arms Control Association, the Carnegie Endowment, Stimson Center, the University of Georgia and others.

If you have other resources you believe should be added to our Resources Links or if you find a deadlink, please let us know at [email protected]

Photo credit: United Nations Photo and National Archives via flickr

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