On 22 November, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organized a briefing for Member States on the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (UNSGM). Representatives from the missions in New York were invited to listen to remarks by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, and a presentation by the UNODA team in support of the UNSGM, followed by a segment for questions from participants.
The briefing aimed to provide Member States with information about the mandate and relevance of the UNSGM, activities related to strengthening the operational readiness of the mechanism, and the role of Member States in supporting the UNSGM, in particular the nomination of experts and laboratories to the roster.
The roster of experts and laboratories that could be called upon in the event of an investigation is a cornerstone of the UNSGM. When establishing the mechanism , the General Assembly requested that the UN Secretary-General “compile and maintain lists of qualified experts provided by Member States whose services could be made available at short notice to undertake investigations [of alleged use of chemical, biological and toxin (CBT) weapons] and of laboratories with the capability to undertake testing for the presence of agents the use of which is prohibited.”
As custodian of the UNSGM, the Office for Disarmament Affairs regularly sends a request to all Member States (via Note Verbale) for nominations of experts and laboratories for the UNSGM roster. Nominations are particularly requested in the biological area, as the UNSGM is the only instrument that provides a framework for an international investigation of possible use of biological weapons.
As the High Representative noted in her remarks, the credibility of the UNSGM rests in its ability to carry out an investigation in a scientifically sound and politically independent manner. UNODA relies on the political and material support from Member States to maintain and strengthen the UNSGM. In addition to the nomination of experts and laboratories to the roster, Member States can also support the mechanism by hosting training events (including offering a venue or location), financial support for activities, and political support for preserving the independence and strengthening the preparedness of UNSGM.
For more information, please contact the UNODA team in support of the UNSGM at UNSGM@un.org or visit the UNSGM’s website page at www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/secretary-general-mechanism/.