In Geneva on 29 March 2017, the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva co-hosted the “Workshop in Support of the Biological Weapons Convention Extended Assistance Programmes”.
Held at the offices of the European Union (EU) Permanent Delegation in Geneva, the workshop brought together just over 40 participants, including experts nominated by EU Member States and representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The EU Member States represented at the meeting included Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom. Also in attendance were representatives from Interpol, the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The workshop was conducted under the auspices of EU Council Decision 2016/51/CFSP of 18 January 2016 in support of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). One aim of the Council Decision is to develop the capacity of beneficiary States Parties to strengthen their implementation of the BWC at the national level. A total of ten BWC States Parties have been selected by the EU to receive assistance under the Council Decision and the nominated EU experts will lead assistance missions to the selected countries to assist them with issues relating to BWC implementation such as biosafety and biosecurity, legislative drafting, export controls, law enforcement and other relevant topics.
Workshop participants discussed best practices and appropriate preparations to enable them to effectively support the national implementation of the BWC by beneficiary States Parties. Productive discussions about best practices in providing assistance, service providers’ coordination and cooperation, and practical arrangements in preparation of assistance delivery were ushered in by experts’ presentations on those topics.
The current EU Council Decision is the fourth consecutive EU initiative in support of the BWC since 2006. During that time, the EU has contributed more than EUR 6.3 million to the BWC through two Joint Actions and two Council Decisions. The EU is therefore one of the major financial contributors to the BWC work supported by the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.