Staff from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) visited Luanda in April to assist Angola join the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Angola is one of the very few countries that are not members of either of these multilateral treaties covering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Following many months of advocacy by the United Kingdom and other governments, on 22-23 April the Angolan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX) hosted a workshop for representatives of Angolan government agencies. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, H.E. Mr. Georges Chikoti, confirmed his Government’s intention to accede to both conventions.
The Head of the BWC Implementation Support Unit in UNODA, Richard Lennane, joined colleagues from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) to outline the purpose, obligations, function and national and international benefits of each treaty.
The Angolan participants, who included representatives of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Industry, Justice, Transport, Trade, Finance (customs) as well as the national police, took an active part in the workshop, asking detailed questions on the implementation of the two Conventions and discussed how the potential benefits in areas such as trade in chemicals and the capacity for disease outbreak surveillance and response could be realized in practice in Angola.
“While we do a lot of important work on universality and implementation of disarmament treaties with diplomatic representatives in Geneva and New York, sometimes there is no substitute for visiting a capital for in-depth discussions with officials from the relevant ministries,” said Richard Lennane. “As UNODA is a small office, to conduct these kinds of visits we depend on close cooperation with partners like OPCW and VERTIC, as well as governments of member states.”