The Proliferation Security Initiative: A Tentative Assessment

  • Gabriella VenturiniEmail author


The PSI was launched by the United States in 2003 as a programme aimed at interdicting the transfer or transport of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials to and from States and non-State actors of proliferation concern. Being a voluntary activity and not an international organization, its structure is not institutionalized. Although more than 100 countries have endorsed the PSI, some important States are absent especially in the Asian region and in the Arabic peninsula. The PSI activities are based on the Principles of Interdiction, which do not conflict with existing international law, notably the freedom of the high seas and the principle of flag State consent. Accordingly, a number of ship-boarding agreements have been reached and amendments to the SUA Convention have been adopted to legitimize the interdiction of vessels involved in WMD smuggling. Since 2003 PSI cooperation has gradually contributed to the development of participating States’ critical capabilities and practices in relation to the interdiction of WMD and related materials, although a proper evaluation of the PSI’s effectiveness is difficult to make due to its lack of transparency. In the future, the Initiative would benefit from a greater involvement of civilian law enforcement authorities for the interdiction of dual-use goods, as well as from a geographical expansion of its scope.


Beijing convention on the suppression of unlawful acts relating to international civil aviation Delivery systems Interdiction Ship-boarding agreements for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of maritime navigation (SUA Convention) Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Via Fratelli CerviMilano DueSegrateItaly

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