On 17 and 18 August 2021, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) convened a two-day virtual introductory workshop on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and its Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) for Sudanese authorities.
The workshops marked the launch of Sudan’s National Preparedness Programme (NPP) under European Union (EU) Council Decision 2019/97 in support of the BWC. The events were attended by participants from relevant Sudanese government entities involved in the implementation of the BWC. The workshops featured detailed presentations by the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and from representatives from South Africa and Kenya, who shared their experience with CBMs. Representatives from the German Biosecurity Programme, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) as well as UNODA’s Africa Regional Coordinator on UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) and its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) also attended the proceedings.
The workshop was opened by Mr. Mawia Osman, General Manager of the Sudan National Authority for the BWC and the Chemical Weapons Convention, H.E. Ms. Ambassador Marjolijn Van Deelen, EU Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Mr. Daniel Feakes, Chief of the BWC Implementation Support Unit.
The first day of the workshop focused on the general provisions of the BWC and on specific aspects related to assistance, response and preparedness. Ms. Melanie Gerber, Political Affairs Officer at UNODA, presented the Convention’s history, significance, and its provisions as well as the resources that are available to facilitate States parties’ implementation. Dr. Alex Lampalzer, Deputy Chief of the ISU, provided further insights on Article VII, which relates to assistance by States Parties to States which have been exposed to danger as a result of a violation of the Convention, and its related practical challenges.
This first session of the training concluded with a presentation by Mr. Abdalla Ali, focal point for the BWC in Sudan, that showcased the country’s efforts to implement the Convention. He emphasized that Sudan’s priority was to adopt national biosafety and biosecurity legislation and that the next objective was for Sudan to submit a first CBM report soon.
During the second session, the focus switched to CBMs and the operational aspects of collating and submitting CBM data. Dr. Alex Lampalzer introduced the aims and objectives of CBMs and the preparation and submission process for States parties’ reports. He also outlined a potential way ahead for Sudan in submitting its CBMs and provided a practical demonstration of the electronic CBM platform, which serves as the online repository of all CBM reports since 1987 and which also allows for online submissions.
The participants then heard from Ms. Lebogang Phihlela, Deputy Director of the Non-Proliferation Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, who shared South Africa’s experience with implementing the BWC and preparing CBMs in particular. The speaker highlighted the importance of establishing a national focal point for data collection. Having such a focal point, she said, enabled the South African government to set up a Biological Weapons Working Committee which brings together stakeholders from multiple sectors and departments.
Subsequently, Dr. Mary Onsarigo, Senior Analyst at the National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NACOSTI) presented Kenya’s strategy for drafting CBM reports. Dr. Onsarigo emphasized the importance of locating the focal point in an institution with relevant scientific know-how, and explained that, over the years, NACOSTI mapped key institutions relevant for CBMs in order to identify and contact relevant stakeholders. However, some challenges in the submission of CBMs remain, the speaker said, such as a low level of awareness about the Convention among life science researchers and low participation by private actors.
Sudan is one of four BWC States Parties that were selected for the National Preparedness Programme (NPP) under the European Union Council Decision 2019/97 in support of the BWC. NPPs are designed to strengthen a country’s capacity for detecting, reporting, and responding to outbreaks of infectious diseases or biological weapons attacks, including in the areas of preparedness, response, and crisis management and mitigation.
In the coming months, further capacity building trainings in the areas of prevention, preparedness and response will be carried out with Sudan in the framework of the NPP.
For more information contact the BWC ISU team at firstname.lastname@example.org.