Countering the Non-Conventional Threat: The role of consultancy in non-proliferation


The latest report from the 1540 Committee (S/2011/579 of September 14, 2011), instructively recommends that the Committee, States, and international, regional and sub-regional organisations cooperate with academia, industry, and civil society where appropriate, taking a long-term approach that can contribute to national implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540. However, to date the role of private companies and especially the role consultancies could play in the implementation of UNSCR 1540 has not been leveraged sufficiently. The unique techniques private consultancies use, their implied impartiality and their efficiency could be of tremendous relevance in contributing to the national implementation of UNSCR 1540.

The Non-Conventional Threat: CBRNe Asia
Security in Southeast Asia is a priority. It is for this reason that IB Consultancy decided to organise the “Non-Conventional Threat: CBRNe Asia 2012” conference in Bangkok, Thailand. This was the first and largest CBRNe conference, exhibition and exercise organised in one unique venue in Asia. The event brought together experts, end-users, policymakers, industry and procurement staff, not only from the Southeast Asian region, but also from Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
On the first day of the event a pre-conference workshop was held at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangkok. The aim of the workshop was to serve as a networking event for stakeholders to actively take part in Southeast Asia’s CBRNe dialogue. Representatives from Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the Netherlands, Vietnam, United Kingdom, USA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), INTERPOL, NATO WMD Centre and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) gathered to discuss the main CBRNe related challenges for the Southeast Asian region and to agree upon possible solutions.
The key questions addressed to the audience during the workshop centred on what has been achieved and what are the possibilities to improve existing policies and capabilities. During a brainstorming session the delegates agreed upon a list with CBRNe- related challenges in the Southeast Asia region. The priority that ranked highest by all workshop participants is the need to refine governments’ perception and prioritisation of the CBRNe threat. This could, for instance, be achieved by identifying commonly agreed threats such as a ‘public health’, or an ‘anti-smuggling’ perspective, and then superimposing the CBRNe dimension to these threats.
The second highest priority is to establish a multinational Southeast Asia ‘regional agency’ to lead in the field of CBRNe. Currently there is no such agency in the region that specifically addresses this issue. The suggested regional agency should develop an agreed perception of risk in the field of CBRNe. An identified priority related to this is to seek international assistance and coordination for implementing international CBRNe related conventions. In this perspective, inter-agency and cross-border collaboration should also be improved.

 The Priority that ranked highest among workshop participants is the need to refine governments’ perception of the CBRNe threat and convince governments to make it a priority.

Another striking priority identified by the regional stakeholders was the perceived need to involve the private sector. During the discussions on this priority it became clear all relevant resources should be utilized in order to counter the CBRN threat in the Southeast Asian region. So far the potential role of the private sector has not been explored sufficiently. To include the private sector in the process of the national implementation of UNSCR 1540 requirements is a logical step, endorsed by the latest report from the 1540 Committee. The ideas expressed to involve private industry were ranging from urging the CBRNe industry to focus on ASEAN/Pacific product needs, increased public- private cooperation, and the involvement of industry raising community awareness on the CBRNe threat. Of note is that Singapore is quite advanced in this. For example, the Singapore Metro actively contributes to the improved education of the public by including commuters in their exercises and distributing educational materials on what to do in case of a CBRNe incident.
The added value of the inclusion of private industry in countering the CBRNe threat was the ‘leitmotiv’ of the NCT: CBRNe Asia conference. Only by bringing together the complete spectrum of stakeholders in the field of CBRN, trust among all players will be created and new ideas will emerge. It should be noted that the conference was organised by an independent party, who was not obliged to do this according to an implementation scheme, or in any other way commissioned or imposed by a third party. Quite the reverse, the initiative to organise this conference was in anticipation on a perceived need of several stakeholders to come together and to create synergies.

Benefits of working with private consultants
The impartial position of private consultancies could be leveraged much more in the implementation of UNSCR 1540. Where national states have particular interests and NGOs may define their mission on the basis of idealism, consultants are better placed to act and deliver in a “SMART” way: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Consultants are used to work as “third party”. Most of them are trained to work in a complex environment with multiple stakeholders and diverging interests. For Consultancies to survive in a fierce environment of competition, they must be able to quickly adapt to new circumstances and needs from their clients. This makes them flexible, agile and creative. Consultants are result-oriented and therefore not necessarily focused on the process. On the other hand consultants are known for deploying specific techniques and methodologies to reach their objectives.
One big misunderstanding regarding consultants is costs. Many governments believe consultants are expensive, or at least more expensive than NGOs, government institutes and academics. This is merely an ‘urban myth.’ The myth has been retold many times, but is simply overstated and potentially misleading. Consultants work often for the same cost or cheaper as their “not-for-profit” colleagues. Efficiency, state-of-the-art technology and methodologies and a drive to deliver within budget make consultants a cost effective and effective choice.
A good example of a methodology used by consultants, in relation to the implementation of UNSCR 1540, is the IPACT toolbox. IPACT – Implementation Programme Against CBRNe Terrorism- is one of the outcomes of the “International Seminar on National Implementation of Non-proliferation Obligations”, held in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 22-23, 2009 under the auspices of the OPCW. The IPACT programme is designed to develop a more integrated, more holistic approach toward implementing measures aimed at the non-proliferation of CBRNe in the Western Balkans. The programme aims at developing comprehensive national strategies to improve and sustain capacities to counter WMD proliferation and terrorism, and at promoting best international and national standards and practices in the implementation of their respective obligations.
When approaching the danger of CBRNe proliferation, one often refers to the problem of safeguarding (non-proliferation), security (the threat of terrorism and fundamental radicalisation) and safety (accidents). IPACT takes a holistic approach by integrating the efforts in all three areas. The basis is a Functionality Approach, a consultancy methodology developed by IB Consultancy that is used in many different security areas including critical infrastructure protection, non-proliferation, CBRN crisis management and airline security. From a consultancy perspective most international support programmes lack a structured methodology (by which we do not suggest that these programmes are not structured!), while IPACT is a fully structured methodology in which each step of the programme can be monitored, assessed and replayed. In IPACT, the scan is based on a concept of different functions a country needs to perform in order to achieve a certain objective.
The methodologies, models and tools to manage this multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder approach have been developed in one pilot country of the region (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and conclusions and recommendations (generic or region-specific) will be extracted from the pilot, in cooperation with other regional and international partners. These tools can then be used by other countries elsewhere in their efforts develop better-integrated non-proliferation systems (policies, infrastructure, mechanisms and procedures), and to further enhance regional coordination of these measures.

Outlook for the future
The regional approach of the IPACT programme in the Western Balkans would also be highly beneficial for the Southeast Asian region. This became clear during the workshop in Bangkok. Although states are responsible for meeting the requirements of UNSCR 1540, most of the suggested solutions were related to the region as whole, instead of the prevalence of a solely national outlook. A first and logical step to embrace and act in a regional approach would be the identification of all CBRNe related agencies in the region. Subsequently, a recognised network of CBRNe related points of contact in Southeast Asia can be established, leveraging existing initiatives such as those by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the EU Centres of Excellence. This would establish the foundations for more concrete and concerted efforts in countering the threat of CBRNe in the region and the implementation of UNSCR 1540.
The implementation of UNSCR 1540 and non-proliferation in general, would benefit enormously from the practices of consultancy. Neutrality, coupled to the drive to deliver concrete deliverables and the application of novel techniques and approaches could strengthen the universal process of non-proliferation and lead to tangible results against lower costs.
Events such as conferences and small exercises are necessary to promote and continue to dialogue on CBRNe in the Southeast Asian Region. Establishing mutual trust and understanding is quintessential in countering the CBRNe threat in a region, which, when destabilised by a significant CBRN incident (or accident), would have significant effects on the stability and daily life of the rest of the world. That trust and understanding can only grow by continued open and frank dialogue, and multi-actor cooperation, and the aforementioned events and conferences offer a vehicle of choice for achieving exactly that! Next year in Kuala Lumpur, IB Consultancy, in partnership with the National Defence University of Malaysia, will bring together regional stakeholders to discuss the progress in the foreseen enhanced regional cooperation and to identify new challenges in the 2013 edition of NCT: CBRNe Asia. We invite you to join us for this dialogue.

Elsa Schrier and Ilja M. Bonsen



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