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An examination of the precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of explosive compositions found within Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

Chapter 7: Conclusion

No chemical precursor strategy can effectively prevent the ingenuity of criminals, armed groups and terrorists from making HME. Real success in restricting the proliferation of explosive precursors can only be achieved through an ongoing programme of awareness and cooperation between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and local / international law enforcement agencies, combined with the development of sound intelligence.

We do have a system of sorts, where the common regional and national response in addressing explosive precursors has been to restrict their access by limiting supply of chemicals above certain concentrations and making reportable the supply of other precursor chemicals in large quantities, or to suspicious individuals. These responses do make it much more difficult for individuals to develop HME, but they are incoherent and lose sight of chemical precursors in countries where institutional oversight is lacking.

The establishment of a global legislation on restriction, substitution or standardization of precursor chemicals, including those available at retail and online, should be considered. Such a global system would cost time and money to implement, would delay (not deny) access to a determined perpetrator, but knowing the direction of travel allows the international community the head space necessary to implement focused and proactive strategies.

To remain ahead of the game also requires focused discussion on upstream capacity building initiatives in affected States/Regions such as:

  • improvements to the security and control of military and commercial explosives;
  • increased IED risk education within affected communities and the implementation of effective community policing initiatives;
  • the strengthening of national institutions to conduct counter-IED assessment and capability development (a good example being the UNIDIR C-IED capability maturity model);
  • improvements in border control; and
  • improved cooperation and information sharing through recovered evidence analysis and standardized data collection.

All of these measures reduce the impact of the IED within affected communities.

Finally, it remains impractical to impose a blanket ban on certain chemicals, since this would have a hugely negative impact on a range of industries. As such, those chemical precursors identified in Annex F should be considered the start point for discussion on global supply chain control.

Chapter 8: Case Studies and Annexes

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