Promoting the ratification of the Biological Weapons Convention in Haiti

April 5th, 2018

On 23 March 2018, the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) concluded a universalization mission to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which it conducted at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Haiti within the framework of the European Union Council Decision 2016/51 in support of the BWC.

Haiti signed the BWC on 10 April 1972 but has not yet joined the Convention.[1] However, the Haitian authorities are making progress towards this goal. A ratification decree was approved by the executive and transmitted to parliament in March 2017. The Haitian Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the ISU to provide assistance in promoting ratification and raising awareness amongst relevant stakeholders in Haiti.

Chief of the BWC Implementation Support Unit, Daniel Feakes, meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti, Antonio Rodrigue, on 21 March 2018.

The mission involved a programme of high-level bilateral encounters and a universalization workshop that brought together around 50 participants from different Haitian ministries, public agencies and entities that would be involved in the implementation of the BWC, should Haiti decide to ratify the Convention.

The ISU delegation held meetings on 21 March with senior Haitian officials and parliamentarians in Port-au-Prince, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Antonio Rodrigue, and the Minister of Defence, Mr Hervé Denis. Both ministers expressed their strong support for Haiti’s ratification of the BWC. The ISU delegation also held meetings with Haitian parliamentarians, who will be involved in deliberations on the ratification of the BWC, specifically with the Vice-President of the Senate, Mr Francois Pierre Sildor, and the Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies, Mr Caleb Desrameaux, as well as other senior parliamentarians. During these meetings, the ISU provided an overview of the main tenets of the BWC. The ISU also emphasised the benefits of joining the Convention, including access to international support to develop capabilities and infrastructure to implement the Convention.

Staff from the BWC Implementation Support Unit meeting with members of the Chamber of Deputies of Haiti to discuss the Biological Weapons Convention on 21 March 2018.

From 22 to 23 March, the ISU and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Haiti co-organized a workshop to promote the ratification of the BWC. The workshop was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Rodrigue, and the Chief of the ISU, Mr Daniel Feakes. Mr Raphael Brigandi from the EU Delegation in Port-au-Prince spoke on behalf of the European Union. Also participating in the workshop were Senator Julio Cesar Valentin from the Dominican Republic, Ms Melissa Verpile from Parliamentarians for Global Action, Mr O’Neil Hamilton, the CARICOM regional coordinator for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540, and Ms Ana Izar, the EU Council Decision Project Officer of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

Break-out groups at the workshop to promote ratification of the Biological Weapons Convention in Port-au-Prince on 22-23 March 2018.

The participants in the workshop included officials from Haitian entities ranging from the ministries of foreign affairs and defence, to ministries and agencies working on public health and the environment. In addition to presentations from the national experts, the workshop also heard presentations from the international experts on the BWC. Participants also convened in working groups to actively explore the steps that Haiti would need to take once it has ratified the Convention in order to effectively implement it at the national level. The Haitian participants were committed to working towards Haiti’s ratification of the BWC in the coming months and in so doing complete adherence to the BWC in the whole of the Americas.

Participants at the end of the workshop in Port-au-Prince to promote the ratification of the Biological Weapons Convention by Haiti.

[1] The full list of States which have not yet joined the BWC is as follows: Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, Namibia, Niue, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Tanzania and Tuvalu.