On 31 March 2022, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) organized an outreach workshop for Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigations of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (UNSGM) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The workshop aimed to inform representatives from ASEAN States about the mandate and background of the UNSGM, which is currently the only international mechanism for investigation of alleged use of biological weapons. It built on a previous UNSGM workshop hosted by Malaysia in 2019 for experts from the ASEAN region, providing another opportunity for these experts to learn more about the mechanism and prospects for future engagement with UNODA’s support.
Dr. Christine Uhlenhaut from UNODA delivered presentations to the participants on the roles and responsibilities of Qualified Experts, Expert Consultants and Analytical Laboratories which are nominated by Member States to the UNSGM roster, the process for such nominations, and the relevant activities for nominated experts and laboratories, including training courses, laboratory exercises, and workshops.
Participants also heard from some of UNODA’s partners engaged in supporting the UNSGM through capacity-building activities. A representative from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany provided information on the Capstone Exercise that RKI is preparing to host, in coordination with UNODA, in September 2022, as well as other training activities for nominated experts on the UNSGM roster. A representative from Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland provided insight into the exercises and activities for nominated laboratories, including the annual workshop for nominated laboratories on the UNSGM roster. In addition, representatives from two international organizations – the World Health Organization (WHO) and INTERPOL – spoke about the cooperation between their organizations and UNODA in support of the UNSGM.
Financial support for the workshop was generously provided by the Government of Japan. The UNSGM workshop was held in coordination with a regional capacity-building workshop on the Biological Weapons Convention for the representatives from ASEAN States, which was organized by the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC-ISU) on 29-30 March, and also supported by the Government of Japan.
For more information on the UNSGM workshop, please contact the UNODA team in support of the UNSGM at UNSGM@un.org.