Timor-Leste conducts its first ever national workshop on the Biological Weapons Convention

April 8th, 2024

From 25 to 26 March 2024, the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) within the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste, jointly organized a national workshop on the implementation of the Convention. The purpose of the workshop was to deepen understanding of the BWC, to share effective practices relating to the preparation of Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), and to inform participants about capacity-building opportunities available to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity.

A total of 25 participants attended the two-day event, including representatives from several Timorese ministries and institutions, as well as two experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Portuguese Armed Forces and staff from the ISU. Opening remarks were delivered by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ISU and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, as the latter provided funding for the workshop.

Opening remarks delivered by Mr. Leoneto Mantilo, Director-General for Multilateral and Regional Affairs/Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Timor-Leste

The two-day workshop helped to share effective practices on the domestic implementation of the Convention and informed in great detail on the preparation of the annual Confidence-Building Measures report. Mr. Leoneto Mantilo, Director-General for Multilateral and Regional Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste re-iterated his country’s unwavering commitment to multilateral arms control and disarmament and stressed the importance of the BWC. He also underlined Timor-Leste’s intention to submit the country’s first ever CBM report in 2024. In this regard, the participation of experts from Lao PDR and Portugal brought to the forefront effective practices concerning the adoption of a comprehensive approach to biosecurity as well as the national CBM preparation process.

Pre-recorded Opening remarks delivered by Ambassador Aidan Liddle, UK Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

“The BTWC is the key international instrument for preventing and countering the misuse of biological science for hostile purposes and addressing the risks from biological weapons and the deliberate use of disease whether in humans, animals or plants. Any such use could have devastating impact on human health, agriculture and food security. We cannot afford to compromise or to let down our guard.” Ambassador Aidan Liddle, UK Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva stressed.

In the course of the workshop, participants also identified opportunities for technical assistance and capacity-building support and highlighted the need for further bolstering biosecurity in the country. As noted by a number of participants, the event represented the first opportunity to engage on BWC related issues. Hence, several experts expressed their strong interest in the subject matter and wished to learn more about the Convention and its implementation.

Participants in the national BWC workshop Dili, Timor-Leste

Additional information on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is available here.