Combating proliferation financing

Financing is one of the essential springboards for any proliferation undertaking. The technological specificity, the use of diverted means of procurement and the scarcity of goods and materials sought by proliferators for their programmes make them costly. However this issue remains difficult to understand.

International discussion is under way as to how to develop the necessary tools to identify and prevent proliferation-related financing operations, drawing on the mechanisms used in counter-terrorism. UNSC Resolution 1540 (2004) was unanimously adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It sets out States’ obligations when it comes to countering proliferation financing.

In addition, work was begun on this issue within the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) whose mandate was extended in April 2008 to include countering proliferation financing. The revised mandate adopted by FATF ministers in April 2008 thus states that “proliferation financing is a current example of an area where the FATF can add value to the wider efforts of the international community and, consistent with the needs identified by the UN Security Council Resolutions, the FATF will continue to work on this issue”. The FATF is working on drafting the typologies of proliferation financing.

France took an active part in adopting a report with recommendations for adopting FATF measures for combating proliferation financing. The report was finalized by the Working Group on Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering Project Team on Proliferation Financing (PFPT) in Geneva in September 2009. It was adopted at the FATF Plenary Meeting in February 2010 and officially released on 29 April 2010. It proposes a number of recommendations through which tools similar to those used in counter-terrorism could be used to counter proliferation financing. For instance, the report also includes so called "special recommendations" through which the FATF Member States would undertake to specially criminalize proliferation financing in their domestic law, establish the legal foundations necessary for freezing financial assets of proliferating entities, cooperate in international investigations, ask their banks to monitor transactions and inform financial intelligence units of any suspicions they may have, etc. This report finally puts forward a definition of proliferation financing to the FATF and took into account observations from representatives from the private sector.

France has likewise promoted that the European Union better address this issue in its “New lines for action by the European Union in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems” adopted during the French Presidency of the European Union.

Domestically, France has begun strengthening its legal and operational arsenal to better counter proliferation financing. A bill to specifically criminalize proliferation financing has been submitted to the Parliament for review.

Lastly, if we are to effectively combat proliferation financing, we also need to raise the awareness of all actors concerned.