On 27 and 28 July 2017 Fiji hosted a regional workshop on universalization of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). With five States in the Pacific region not yet party to the BWC (Kiribati, Micronesia, Niue, Samoa and Tuvalu), the main objective of the regional workshop was to raise awareness of the BWC in the region and to promote the efforts of these states towards accession to the Convention. Around 40 participants from across the region attended the workshop.
The workshop was organized in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the BWC with financial backing from the European Union. The financial support was part of EU Council Decision 2016/51, a three-year grant totaling EUR 2.3 million to support the universalization and implementation of the BWC.
Mr Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Minister of Defence and National Security of Fiji, opened the workshop with a statement. Mr Corrado Pampaloni, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific and Chargé d’Affaires, and Ms Ellen Alradi, Senior Peace and Development Advisor in the UN Multi-Country Office in Fiji also made opening remarks at the workshop. The three Depositary Governments of the BWC, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, also contributed to the workshop.
The representative from Samoa, one of the five States yet to join the BWC, informed the workshop that Samoa’s instrument of accession to the BWC had been submitted to the Government’s legal adviser, an indication that Samoa is on track to join the Convention soon.
Staff of UNODA and the ISU gave briefings on the provisions of the BWC, the rights and obligations of States Parties and the types of assistance available to States that join the Convention. Representatives from States Parties such as the host country Fiji, Australia, Nauru and Vanuatu shared their experiences with BWC implementation, while representatives of Kiribati, Niue, Samoa and Tuvalu spoke about their countries’ efforts to join the BWC. A representative of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat briefed participants on the role of the PIF as a regional platform for discussions on disarmament issues. In addition, two experts from civil society contributed to the workshop from the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) and from Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA).
Building on the momentum achieved by the workshop, the BWC Implementation Support Unit will continue to engage with all participants to promote the universalization of the Convention in the Pacific.
The day before the regional workshop, UNODA and the ISU participated in a national workshop organized by Fiji for domestic stakeholders. Its key objective was to lay out a proposal for a national authority for BWC implementation in Fiji.
- Fiji Sun online – Fiji Hopes Region Adopts Biological Weapons Convention
- The Fiji Times Online – Biological weapons threat ‘real’
- FB News – Biological weapon threat is real
- FBC TV News – TV news 27/7/2017