Bogota, 14-15 February 2013 — The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and the Verification, Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), joined forces to assist Colombia in its implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). This two-day workshop was the result of an official request by the country and was carried out in collaboration with the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The workshop brought together national representatives from all sectors of the Government including the health, commerce as well as the security and justice sectors. Several research and investigation organizations as well as private industry representatives also participated in this innovative workshop to discuss and review the main obligations contained in the BTWC.
Representatives from UNLIREC, VERTIC and the BTWC Implementation Support Unit provided national authorities with technical and legal guidance for the drafting of new legislation related to biological weapons. VERTIC’s comprehensive legal diagnostic served as the basis for the debate. The 2012 study compares current national legislation with the provisions found in the BTWC. The Seminar also provided an opportunity to discuss the creation of a national commission which would be responsible for the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the BTWC. As a result of the Workshop, an informal working group chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was formed. This working group will spearhead the establishment of the national commission and legal reform process. The working group will also be responsible for the preparation and submission of Colombia’s 2013 Confidence Building Measures Forms to the BTWC Implementation Support Unit.
The UNLIREC and VERTIC partnership will continue to focus on raising awareness among States in the region of the obligations set out under the BTWC and providing legal assistance in the revision and drafting of national legislation to ensure consistency with the obligations found in the Convention, as well as other non-proliferation instruments.