On 18 October 2022, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) hosted a side event on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (UNSGM) for Member State representatives participating in the UNGA First Committee meetings. About 60 people attended the event, which aimed to provide Member States with information about the mandate and relevance of the UNSGM, activities related to strengthening the mechanism, and the role of Member States in supporting the UNSGM, in particular, through nominating experts and laboratories to the roster.
Mr. Adedeji Ebo, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, welcomed the attendees and delivered opening remarks on behalf of UNODA. This was followed by a short presentation by the UNODA team in support of the UNSGM, then a segment for questions and answers.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Ebo highlighted that the UNSGM is the only instrument that provides a framework for an international investigation of the possible use of biological weapons. The mechanism allows all UN Member States to report allegations of the use of biological weapons to the UN Secretary-General, thereby requesting the Secretary-General to launch an investigation to ascertain in an objective and scientific manner the facts of the matter, including dispatching a fact-finding team to the site of the alleged incident, and to report the results of the investigation to all Member States. Therefore, Mr. Ebo noted the importance of ensuring that the UNSGM is prepared to effectively conduct such an investigation in a scientifically sound and political independent manner.
The presentation outlined the work undertaken by UNODA as custodian of the UNSGM, as well as the various ways in which Member States can support it. One of the most important ways in which Member States can support the UNSGM is through the nomination of experts and laboratories to the UNSGM roster. The UNSGM is not a standing investigative body, and when establishing the UNSGM, the General Assembly requested that the UN Secretary-General compile and maintain lists of experts and analytical laboratories provided by Member States. As custodian of the UNSGM, UNODA regularly invites all Member States to submit or update these nominations. Nominations are sought to improve further the geographical balance and breadth of expertise of rostered experts and laboratories.
Member States can also support the UNSGM in other ways. In its presentation, UNODA provided an overview of the training programme for experts on the roster and the interlaboratory calibration studies, or EQAEs, for the laboratories on the roster – both of which are implemented with support from Member States. Member States can also provide financial support for activities and political support for the preserving the independence of the mechanism.
For more information, please contact the UNODA team in support of the UNSGM at UNSGM@un.org.