The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) aims to fight against illegal transport of weapons of mass destruction, their vectors and associated materials, whose proliferation is considered a threat to international peace and security by the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 1540 (2004)). It aims to enhance operational cooperation between participating States to disrupt proliferating flows by sea, air and land.
The PSI is not an organization but an international initiative, which is characterized by its flexibility (completely voluntary participation and absence of permanent structure) and pragmatism (meeting between experts and professionals). It does not replace the existing instruments for fighting proliferation (treaties and supplier regimes) but supports them and enhances them with operational measures. It follows national laws and the rules of international law, particularly UN Security Council resolutions and the International Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 1982).
The Initiative is open to all countries willing to fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and who wish to cooperate to put an end to the transfer of goods which may be used to produce such weapons. At the start of 2018, 105 countries voluntarily supported this initiative and adhered to its objectives, created in Paris in 2003 (known as the Paris Principles). The 21 most-committed countries form the Operational Experts Group (OEG).
France has participated in the PSI from the outset. It hosted the third plenary meeting on 3 and 4 September 2003, during which the participating States approved the Declaration on the Principles of Interception (known as the Paris Principles) which set out the objectives of the Initiative and State’s commitments to achieve them. It also hosted a new OEG meeting in September 2008 which led to a significant enhancement in exchange between partners on concrete cases. France has also organized several multinational sea and air interception exercises.
During the PSI high-level political meeting organized in Warsaw in May 2013, France and Germany jointly launched the PSI Mediterranean Initiative. The aim was to periodically bring together all States in the region on a voluntary basis, regardless of whether they are PSI participants or not, in order to better evaluate the scale of proliferating flows in the region, bolster regional cooperation to tackle this and raise awareness in Mediterranean countries that have little or no involvement in the Initiative about the importance of fighting this threat. Since 2015, three events have been organized by Germany, France and Italy. These meetings bring together around twenty Mediterranean coastal States and have enabled discussions to take place on the legal frameworks for interception operations and identify joint actions on the basis of concrete scenarios.
In January 2018, France gave its support for a joint declaration of 17 partners of the Proliferation Security Initiative aimed at supporting the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 on North Korea.
France hosted the high-level political meeting of the 105 PSI participating countries in Paris on 15-17 May 2018 on the 15th anniversary of the initiative.
To find out more:
• Proliferation Security Initiative website
• Declaration on Interception Principles (Paris Declaration)
• Joint declaration of PSI signatory countries on the implementation of resolutions regarding North Korea