Requesting a Challenge Inspection Against Syria Under the Chemical Weapons Convention: Venturing into Uncharted Territory

In response to the April 2018 chemical attack in Syria that killed more than 40 people, the United States, France, and Britain launched more than 100 missiles targeting three suspected chemical weapon storage and research facilities. However, subsequent reports have raised questions concerning the accuracy of the intelligence regarding these facilities. Rather than conducting this airstrike, the US-led coalition should have utilized the unique verification mechanism provided by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997: a challenge inspection.

Through an in-depth examination of the never been used CWC challenge inspection, Jonathan Greengarden outlines the process for requesting a challenge inspection and explains why it is not too late to request such an inspection against Syria. Utilizing this powerful verification tool is necessary in order to hold CWC violators accountable and to reinforce the international norm against using chemical weapons.

Building a Universal Counter-Proliferation Regime: The Institutional Limits of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540

The risk of Weapons of Mass Destruction materials falling into the hands of criminals continues to be a major security concern following 9/11. Efforts to curb the threat culminated in 2004 with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540. Resolution 1540 created an international institution—the 1540 regime—that was intended to prevent WMD proliferation by closing legal gaps in every U.N. member state. In addition to prohibiting states from engaging in proliferation activities, the instrument obliges states to address WMD trafficking at home through both criminal law enforcement and regulatory oversight.

Since its creation, scholars and policy makers have come to view 1540 as an important foundation of the global nonproliferation and counter-terrorism regime, in part because 179 states have submitted domestic implementation country reports, and on average, countries report more than 145 new or existing domestic measures to comply with Resolution 1540 obligations. Yet, despite the alleged success of the 1540 regime, there are still gaps in the system. Drawing on fifty-two in-depth interviews, fieldwork, and observation data, Sarah Shirazyan’s article presents a novel assessment of the 1540 regime’s development and performance.

Sarah Shirazyan’s article on “Building a Universal Counter-Proliferation Regime” proceeds in four steps. First, it provides an assessment of 1540’s origins and its past performance, based on the 1540 Committee’s own metrics of success. Second, it demonstrates the regime’s weak performance, examining its effectiveness and accomplishments thus far. Third, it explains how the creation of the 1540 regime and its early institutional choices shaped its current structure and performance. In particular, how 1540’s legitimacy-building strategies have constrained the institution’s ability to effectively manage the implementation of the resolution. Finally, the article briefly explore options on how to strengthen 1540 regime to halt non-state actor proliferation.

Gathering Intelligence: Drifting Meaning and the Modern Surveillance Apparatus

Since its implementation in 1981, Executive Order 12,333 has served as a general charter governing the structure and operations of the Intelligence Community. While legislation has imposed a degree of added judicial and congressional oversight, the executive branch continues to retain sole discretion over large swathes of foreign intelligence activity today.

Over the past several decades, and in accordance with E.O. 12,333’s mandate, members of the Intelligence Community have each created internal agency manuals to guide their foreign intelligence operations. These manuals identify and define a range of technical terms critical to determining the scope of agencies’ intelligence-gathering authority, including what information is gathered, how long that information is retained, and the uses to which it may be put. But over time, the dispersion of authority to make decisions within and across intelligence agencies has enabled drift in the meaning of these terms. Together, the manuals have created a thicket of often conflicting and unclear definitions that are difficult for Congress, the courts, and even committees within the executive branch to understand.

In this article, Diana Lee, Paulina Perlin, and Joe Schottenfeld provide the first sustained analysis of these definitional inconsistencies, their consequences, and efforts to address the problem from within and outside the executive branch. In particular, it focuses on three terms that determine when the intelligence cycle “officially” begins: “collection,” “acquisition,” and “targeting.” By analyzing these three terms, this Article demonstrates the lack of clarity that executive discretion and dispersal create. This lack of clarity, in turn, makes it difficult for meaningful oversight, such as congressional hearings, to occur. The Article concludes by offering recommendations to clarify the parameters of the government’s intelligence-gathering authority. As technological advancements continue to expand the Intelligence Community’s capacity to gather information, it is imperative that the government adopt measures to facilitate effective oversight over the executive’s foreign intelligence operations.

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