In January 2016 the Council of the European Union adopted “Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/51 in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in the framework of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”.
The Decision provides for a voluntary contribution of EUR 2,340,000 which will be administered by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs over the next three years. It builds upon the successful implementation of Joint Actions 2006/184/CFSP and 2008/858/CFSP and Council Decision 2012/421/CFSP. This year sees the tenth anniversary of EU support to the BWC during which time the EU has contributed approximately EUR 6,307,000 to BWC implementation.
Under the new Decision, the European Union will support six projects related to BWC universalization and implementation.
Promoting universal adherence to the BWC by encouraging the 23 States which have not yet joined the BWC to better understand the benefits of doing so. Targeted activities will be carried out in close coordination with other relevant actors, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee, the European Union Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative and civil society organisations.
Enhancing interaction with non-governmental stakeholders on science and technology through a series of regional workshops on scientific and technological issues and on biosafety and biosecurity. Moreover, the project will directly engage scientists and biosafety professionals in developing countries in order to raise awareness of the BWC, to develop capacities for more effective implementation of the BWC and to facilitate international cooperation for peaceful purposes.
Developing national capacities for BWC implementation in particular in developing countries through extended assistance programmes to provide, for example, legislative and regulatory assistance, support to improvements in national biosafety and biosecurity and assistance in the compilation of declarations submitted under the Confidence-Building Measures system in order to enhance confidence in compliance with the BWC.
Supporting preparations for the Eighth BWC Review Conference by conducting a series of regional and sub-regional workshops to reflect on and discuss key topics considered during the 2012-2015 inter-sessional programme, supporting participation in the Review Conference by developing countries and conducting studies and exercises on relevant topics.
Strengthening the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical, Biological and Toxin Weapons with basic and specialised training activities to expand the roster of trained experts, a meeting of stakeholders to address cooperation aspects as well as the conduct of cross-organisational training events by the UN and other international organisations.
Enabling tools for awareness-raising, education and engagement to increase awareness of the issues of biological weapons, promote the responsible conduct of science and to ensure adequate consideration of ethical aspects among scientists, policymakers, as well as students and their teachers. Tools developed under previous EU decisions in support of the BWC will also be updated and revised as necessary.
Text and photos by Roberta Daveri