Tabletop exercises on Article VII of the BWC (2019 – 2020)
In 2019, France provided a voluntary contribution of EUR 150,000 to UNODA for the conduct of two tabletop exercises on Article VII of the BWC. The exercises were organized by the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) in cooperation with the ISU. The first exercise was held in May 2019 in Lome, Togo (see report in English/French) and the second exercise took place in August 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. These exercises built on the recommendations from an earlier tabletop exercise held in 2016.
The voluntary contribution will also be used for the conduct of a workshop to explore proposals and modalities for an Article VII database.
Strengthening global mechanisms and capabilities for responding to deliberate use of disease (2017 – 2020)
From August 2017, UNODA has undertaken a project aimed at ‘Strengthening global mechanisms and capabilities for responding to deliberate use of disease’, which the ISU coordinates with funds from Canada, through its Global Partnership Program. The project, which is scheduled to be concluded in December 2020, aims to strengthen international mechanisms and capabilities to respond to the deliberate use of disease (human, animal or plant) by both state and non-state actors. It’s key output is the development of a first draft of an “International Bio-Emergency Management Framework for Deliberate Events” (BEMF), an informal, non-prescriptive, non-binding policy document developed in cooperation with several United Nations offices and departments, as well as other relevant international organizations.
The general aim of the BEMF is to contribute to a harmonized response among international organizations in the event of a deliberate disease outbreak, and to provide a framework for dialogue and cooperation among them. It describes existing response and coordination mechanisms within international organizations operating in the human, animal and plant health sectors.
The project also contributes to the UN Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda, “Securing Our Common Future”, particularly the recommendation that “[t]he Office for Disarmament Affairs will work with all relevant United Nations entities to contribute to developing a framework that ensures a coordinated international response to the use of biological weapons.”
Ensuring Effective Interagency Interoperability and Coordinated Communication in Case of Chemical and/or Biological Attacks (ongoing)
The ISU participates since 2015 in a project “Ensuring Effective Inter-Agency Interoperability and Coordinated Communication in Case of Chemical and/or Biological Attacks” implemented by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre.
This project has its roots in implementing Pillar II (paragraph 17) of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and aims at improving the preparedness and response capacities by UN and international organisations in the humanitarian, health, and security sectors to a Member State’s request for assistance, relief operations and victim support, following a terrorist attack using a chemical and/or biological weapon. The project focuses on agencies working better together across all three sectors to achieve a better result both individually and collectively. It builds on activities undertaken during the previous phases, specifically the results from a tabletop exercise undertaken in 2017 resulting in the identification of 18 key recommendations to improve inter-agency coordination and interoperability.
Strengthening national, regional and international capacities to prepare for and respond to deliberate use of biological weapons (2018 – 2020)
The Government of Japan has provided a voluntary contribution of USD 820,000 to UNODA for strengthening national, regional and international capacities to prepare for and respond to deliberate use of biological weapons. This project, which is coordinated by the ISU, is part of a UNODA-wide project that was initiated in November 2018 and which will continue until December 2020. As part of this project, the ISU is facilitating the organization of a series of activities aimed at addressing concrete preparedness and response issues pertaining to deliberate biological events. Besides the conduct of four one-day seminars in Geneva, four regional workshops with a more operational focus are being carried out in Asia.
- Seminar 1:”The Importance of Disease Surveillance and Alert Mechanisms: Lessons for the BWC“, (20 November 2018, Geneva)
- Seminar 2: “Rapid International Response to Biological Incidents: Lessons for the BWC“, (16 April 2019, Geneva)
- Seminar 3: “Taking stock of deliberations on assistance, response and preparedness under the current intersessional programme“, (19 November 2019, Geneva)
- Workshop 1: “Regional Workshop for ASEAN States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention on Preparedness to Respond to the Deliberate Use of Biological Weapons“, (6-7 June 2019, Bangkok, Thailand)
- Workshop 2: “Strengthening National, Sub-Regional and International Capacities to Prepare for and Respond to Deliberate Use of Biological Weapons” Capacity Building Workshop for Central Asian States to the Biological Weapons Convention“, (26-27 June 2019, Issyk Kul, Kyrgyz Republic)
- Workshop 3: “Regional Workshop for ASEAN States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention on Preparedness to Respond to the Deliberate Use of Biological Weapons“, (1-2 October 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Japan also provided USD 80,000 to UNODA to organize a training workshop for BWC National Contact Points from countries in southeast Asia.
Exploring science and technology review mechanisms under the BWC (2020 – 2021)
In 2020, Germany provided a two-year voluntary contribution to UNODA to explore science and technology review mechanisms under the BWC. The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). This project has two strands, the first involves organising three workshops in Geneva, Switzerland alongside upcoming BWC meetings. These workshops are intended to facilitate discussions around a science and technology review mechanism for the BWC. The second strand will be a study undertaken by UNIDIR, which will involve the systematic analysis of existing science and technology review mechanisms, as well as seeking States Parties’ views regarding these mechanisms, though surveys and focus groups.