The United Nations inaugurated a new unit today to further bolster its efforts to reduce the threat to the international community posed by weapons of mass destruction. The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) – which will help States Parties in their efforts to bolster implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention – was launched today in Geneva as part of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.
The decision to form the ISU was taken in December 2006 at the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, and is a landmark since the Unit is the first institutional support mechanism created to support global efforts to curb biological weapons.
The Convention entered into force in 1975, and is the first multilateral disarmament treaty which bans an entire category of weapons. Unlike nuclear and chemical weapons treaties which both are supported by well-established international organizations – the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), respectively – no such support exists for biological weapons, until now.
“The Unit will harness resources, force connections, develop networks and identify opportunities,” said Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, who is chairing the 2007 Convention meetings. “It will make an important and innovative contribution to our collective effort to reduce the terrible threat posed by biological weapons.”
The ISU is mandated to provide administrative support, including acting as a focal point for States Parties who submit information, to States Parties, as well as promoting confidence-building measures. It is also tasked with furthering support for the ban on biological weapons and to convince non-adherents to joining the Convention.
“Much of the mandate of the Unit is concerned with facilitating communication among States parties and, upon request, facilitating contacts with scientific and academic institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations,” said Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. “Clearly, the most States Parties make use of such services, the better they work.”
The inauguration of the ISU, which will be funded by States Parties to the Convention, coincided with the start of a meeting among experts to strengthen implementation of the treaty.
The Convention entered into force in 1975, and is the first multilateral disarmament treaty which bans an entire category of weapons.