Current Activities Involving the Implementation Support Unit

Tabletop exercises on Article VII of the BWC 

In 2019, France provided a voluntary contribution  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 has also been used for the conduct of a workshop to explore proposals and modalities for an Article VII database.

Article VII Tabletop Exercise in Togo, 2019

Online Workshop on the Establishment of a Database to facilitate assistance under the framework of Article VII of the Biological Weapons Convention

To contribute to the deliberations in MX4, France and India, with the support of the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU), conducted a series of three workshop sessions between May and June 2021 to support deliberations among States Parties towards the eventual establishment of an Article VII database by the Ninth Review Conference.

The objective of these events was to provide an opportunity for States Parties to exchange views on the database concept and its further development. In particular, the workshop aimed to gather technical inputs on key issues for the operationalization of the database and related topics, based on the analysis of lessons learned from assistance databases utilized in relevant international organizations, which was conducted in November 2020.

Further information on the events, including the background document, presentations and the recordings can be found on the UNODA Meetings Place.

Strengthening global mechanisms and capabilities for responding to deliberate use of disease 

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.” 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launches his Agenda for Disarmament, in Geneva, 2018

Ensuring Effective Interagency Interoperability and Coordinated Communication in Case of Chemical and/or Biological Attacks 

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 

The Government of Japan has provided a voluntary contribution 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 March 2021. 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.

Japan also provided funds to UNODA to organize a training workshop for BWC National Contact Points from countries in southeast Asia, which has been carried out in autumn 2020.

Exploring science and technology review mechanisms under the BWC 

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.A virtual workshop entitled “Exploring science and technology reviews under the Biological Weapons Convention” was carried out in December 2020. The second strand consists of a study undertaken by UNIDIR, which involves 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.

Enhancing the Assistance and Cooperation under Article X of the BWC

The Government of the Philippines provided a voluntary contribution in early 2021 towards the enhancement of the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), more specifically to support the work of the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) with regard to the optimization of the Convention’s database on assistance and cooperation.

Legislative and CBM Assistance for CARICOM Member States

The Government of the United Kingdom provided in June 2021 a voluntary contribution to support “Legislative and CBM Assistance for CARICOM Member States on BWC Implementation and Biosecurity”. The project is carried between August 2021 and March 2022 and aims at to support domestic implementation of the BWC in the Caribbean by facilitating the development and adoption of legislation in CARICOM Member States and considerably increasing their participation in the CBM process.

Support for the BWC Sponsorship Programme

The Government of France provided a voluntary contribution in June 2021 support of the Sponsorship Programme for the Ninth Review Conference and its preceding Preparatory Committee. The funds will be used to support nominees from Francophone States Parties, preferably from the countries which have not previously attended meetings, or which have not been able to send experts from capitals on a regular basis.

Additionally, France made a voluntary contribution in October 2021 to support requests from Francophone States Parties in Africa for assistance with legislation and Confidence Building Measures under the BWC.