North African States discuss universalization and effective implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention in Rabat, Morocco

July 3rd, 2023

From 13 to 15 June, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), in partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco, held a regional workshop on the universalization and effective implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Northern Africa.

Fifty-two participants from four North African States Parties (Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia) and one observer State not party to the Convention (Comoros), attended the workshop. Over the course of the three days, delegates discussed regional and national approaches to implementation of the BWC, shared relevant experiences, challenges and good practices and worked closely with UNODA staff to identify needs and priorities and discuss synergies with existing avenues of technical assistance and capacity building support.

The workshop was also attended by representatives from Canada, the United States, and France, as well as the Group of Experts/Security Council Committee established pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT), the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Biotechnologies for civilian use can unfortunately be diverted from their initial purposes to develop means that are potentially harmful to humans. Intentional or not, these can affect vital sectors” said Dr. Abdelkrim Meziane Belfqih, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Kingdom of Morocco. “In such cases,” he noted, “the stakes are high, with preservation of stability and maintenance of world peace at stake”. Participants in the workshop  further underlined the importance of involving all domestic stakeholders, including the private sector which plays a key role in the implementation of the BWC, to prevent malicious use of pathogens and toxins.

The workshop was organized in the context of a four-year project on “Supporting the Universalization and Effective Implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention in Africa” funded by the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction in Africa.

Additional information on the Biological Weapons Convention is available here.