Vol. 6 Núm. 2 (2020)

Science, research, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540: the need of a “Wiesbaden process” for Academia: DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18847/1.12.14

Ignacio Cartagena Núñez
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Spain
Publicado diciembre 4, 2020
Palabras clave
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction,
  • Non-State Actors,
  • Nonproliferation,
  • Export Control Regimes,
  • Scientific Research,
  • Intangible Technology Transfers,
  • UNSC 1540,
  • Wiesbaden Process
  • ...Más


The necessary link between export controls/academia/technology transfers has lagged behind in policy agendas: while weapons and dual-use goods are being channeled through very detailed regulations and export control regimes, knowledge transfers within scientific collaborations are subject to disperse and heterogeneous rules. The normative vacuum concerning intangible technology transfers in academia is a clear proliferating risk. History proves that many big proliferation networks have started precisely within peaceful scientific research projects. In this context, dialogue with universities and research centers–on the basis of an increasing awareness of the sensitive nature of research and its proliferating risks- could pave the way for states’ further attention on the matter. This could be achieved through a structured dialogue between public actors –in particular export control authorities- and researchers. In order to preserve scientific freedom, a better understanding of each other’s needs, requirements and concerns should be in the basis of any regulation. This article sustains a three-fold idea: first, basic export controls concepts might not be always suitable for science and research, thus needing a constant adaptation exercise where the active role of researchers and scientists becomes irreplaceable; second: UNSCR 1540 resolution offers a good framework in order to steer cooperation between national regulatory authorities, export control regimes and academia; third, the suggested interaction could take a form similar to the “Wiesbaden process” which has already proven to be a successful platform for interaction between governments and industry representatives. The comprehensive review of UNSCR 1540, expected to take place in 2021, will contribute to shape the nonproliferation agenda for the years to come. It seems a good opportunity for setting up the grounds for this suggested dialogue between public authorities and scientists. This new process could be a tangible achievement of the Comprehensive Review.