On 16 September, the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) launched a new project for the Caribbean.
The project, made possible thanks to generous funding by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will assist interested States Parties from the region with developing national legislation to implement the BWC and with preparing and submitting confidence-building measures (CBMs).
Potential beneficiaries from Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States received an overview of the project’s objectives and its various components at a briefing session to mark the launch.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Aidan Liddle, Permanent Representative of the UK to the Conference on Disarmament, encouraged the participants to utilize the project’s activities to strengthen national legislation and CBM participation in their efforts to implement the Treaty fully and effectively.
Dr. Alex Lampalzer and Ms. Fanny Tonos Paniagua from the ISU briefed the participants on upcoming project activities which range from capacity-building events to targeted research and drafting assistance.
In addition, regional stakeholders reflected on the project’s synergies with other initiatives and opportunities for collaboration. Mr. O’Neil Hamilton from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) highlighted how participation in CBMs by Caribbean countries may contribute to strengthening health systems by increasing collaboration between national biosecurity communities, citing the timeliness of such activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In turn, Ms. Soledad Urruela Arenales from the Organisation of American States (OAS) stressed the importance of robust biosafety and biosecurity capabilities in the Caribbean and informed about projects that the OAS is implementing in this regard. Dr. Gabriel Gonzalez-Escobar from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) saw opportunity for his agency to benefit from the project’s capacity building activities and efforts to align national frameworks to WHO’s International Health Regulations.
The next project activity will be an online workshop on CBMs, in which the ISU and international experts will share best practices for the preparation and submission of the annual reports.