The threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups is perhaps the gravest threat confronting the international security system. In 2004, the United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII, adopted Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540). UNSCR 1540 calls on UN member states to enact legislation and to take effective measures to prevent non-state actors, and terrorist groups in particular, from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. UNSCR 1540 also obligated states to report on measures they have taken to fulfill the substantive requirements of the resolution. In addition, UNSCR 1540 established an ad hoc committee ("the 1540 Committee") to receive states' reports and in turn to report to the Security Council on implementation of the resolution. In 2006, the 1540 Committee's initial two-year mandate was renewed for another two years.
UNSCR 1540, as administered by the 1540 Committee, has largely been effective in encouraging states to provide detailed descriptions of the domestic legal authorities and administrative structures they have in place to address the threat of WMD proliferation. Additional progress can and should be made by the Security Council and the 1540 Committee, however, to ensure that the maximum nonproliferation and security benefits that might be produced by UNSCR 1540 are achieved. Our recommendations address implementation, adaptation, international cooperation and assistance, information sharing and assessment, and organizational implications.