From 23 to 24 January 2024, the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) within the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons (NACW), jointly organized a national workshop on the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) under the Convention. The purpose of the workshop was to further deepen understanding of the BWC, to share effective practices on the preparation of CBMs, and to facilitate the implementation of a National Inventory of Dangerous Pathogens in Cambodia.
The two-day workshop in Phnom Penh brought together 45 participants from 14 different Cambodian ministries and institutions, as well as three regional experts from the Philippines, Singapore and the Netherlands (remotely), and staff from the ISU and UNODA. The workshop was made possible through funding by the European Union and was in direct follow-up to the first national BWC workshop ever held in Cambodia in October 2023.
In his opening remarks, General Phorn Nara, Secretary General of Cambodia’s National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons in the Ministry of Defense, outlined the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention and reiterated Cambodia’s full commitment to further strengthening the implementation of the Convention in the country. In this regard, he noted that the workshop would help to identify priorities and additional actions to be undertaken in the near future.
In the introductory presentation, Brigadier General Sat Chansovannary informed participants about actions taken concerning the implementation of the Convention in Cambodia. These steps, she said, included: the nomination of the NACW as the BWC National Contact Point; the operationalization of an inter-ministerial cooperation mechanism on BWC matters; the adoption of BWC related legislation, and the submission, for the first time, of CBM reports in 2022 and 2023.
The preparation of CBMs under the Convention was the central theme of the workshop. Cambodia submitted CBM reports in 2022 and 2023 and plans to submit another further enhanced report in 2024. In order to exchange effective practices among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States, experts from the Philippines and Singapore briefed participants on their national CBM report preparations. Furthermore, the ISU briefed on CBM issues and led an interactive tabletop exercise. In an active learning session, Cambodian experts identified additional national stakeholders that could potentially contribute to the national CBM reporting process, and exchanged ideas to further refine the current data collection and report preparation process.
In the course of the workshop, Cambodian experts also reiterated the importance of international cooperation and assistance under Article X of the Convention to bolster existing human resources and further strengthen technical capacities for BWC implementation purposes. . Alex Lampalzer, Deputy Chief of the BWC ISU, noted in his closing remarks that “this workshop should not be seen as the conclusion of a process. On the contrary, I believe it can serve as a catalyst to provide for new opportunities. It is my hope that we will continue working together in the future with the aim of further strengthening the implementation of the BWC in Cambodia, thereby contributing to international peace and security.”
Additional information on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is available here.