11 November 2015 (UNODC) – The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment are legally binding instruments that promote nuclear security and counter nuclear terrorism. Unfortunately, the Amendment to the CPPNM is one of the few international legal instruments against terrorism that has not yet entered into force.
The adherence of two thirds of the Parties to the Convention, currently numbering 152 countries, plus Euratom, is required for the Amendment’s entry into force, but there are still 13 adherences needed for this to happen.*
“The entry into force of the Amendment to the CPPNM is the single most important step which the international community can take in strengthening nuclear security globally,” said the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, at the 59th General Conference of the IAEA.
This is important as terrorists are actively seeking nuclear and other radioactive materials, some of which are not always adequately protected – in some cases because of the lack of adequate legal frameworks, and in other cases because the legal frameworks are not being implemented.
Recognizing the vital importance of the Amendment, UNODC, in cooperation with the IAEA and with support from the UK, recently held a High-Level Workshop on the Promotion of the Entry into Force of the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM.
The Workshop was attended by representatives of 35 countries which are Party to the CPPNM, but that have not yet ratified its Amendment, and was supported by representatives from the IAEA, UNODC and the 1540 Committee Group of Experts.
Participants at the event felt encouraged by the shared experiences of countries that have recently ratified the Amendment in spite of various domestic challenges, such as the lack of political prioritization of adhering to this instrument.
As part of the practical activities, the participants highlighted the key role the high-level international encouragement has in the ratification process.
They also called for the support of international organizations, such as UNODC and the IAEA, in holding national level discussions on the significance and benefits of the Amendment. In the view of a number of participants, these national level actions would significantly facilitate the domestic process of ratification of the instrument.
Both the CPPNM and its Amendment apply to nuclear material used for peaceful purposes. However, the Amendment modifies the CPPNM at three different levels:
- It expands the CPPNM’s scope of application over the physical protection of nuclear material during international transport, to include the protection of nuclear facilities, and the protection of nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. Additionally, the Amendment requires State Parties to establish, implement and maintain a physical protection regime applicable to nuclear materials and nuclear facilities.
- The Amendment criminalizes the acts of “nuclear smuggling” and “sabotage”, as well as provides “substantial damage to the environment” as an additional element of some of the offences. With respect to the ancillary offences, in addition to those included in the original CPPNM, the Amendment also provides that it is an offence to organize and direct others to commit certain offences and to contribute to the commission of the offences; and
- The Amendment establishes new cooperation, assistance and coordination measures among States Parties and intergovernmental organizations (and non-States Parties in specific instances).
The ratification of the Amendment is essential for increasing nuclear security and preventing nuclear terrorism worldwide. It is in the very interest of each country in the world that it enters into force as soon as possible.
Further information: UNODC’s terrorism prevention work