European Union Training Mission
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10th anniversary of the EU's support for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

09/11/2016 - 13:56
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The EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva, together with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, organised on 11 November a panel discussion concerning the EU Council Decision in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The well-attended side-event took place in the margins of the 8th Review Conference of the Convention at the Palais des Nations. It provided an opportunity to present the results of four regional workshops, which the EU had sponsored in preparation of the Review Conference, and inform interested States Parties of the EU's upcoming assistance activities of which they can benefit over the next two years.

The Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Carl Hallergard in his keynote address emphasised  the EU's will to "promote a rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle and the United Nations at its core," which was confirmed in the European Union's new Global Strategy. "In a fast changing and interconnected world, action at national level is clearly not sufficient alone. We must step up international cooperation if we are to address, resolutely and effectively, the new challenges arising from rapid developments in science and technology, and the threat of non-state actors using biological weapons." He added that "the Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons remains the cornerstone of our collective efforts to prevent biological agents and toxins from ever being developed and used as weapons. Strengthening international treaties and conventions such as the BTWC is a top priority for the European Union."

Mary Soliman, the Acting Director of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, expressed appreciation for the EU's assistance activities, which have contributed to the implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and to the widening of its membership. Ambassador D.B. Venkatesh Varma of India and Neil Benevides, Charge d'Affaires of the Permanent Representation of Brazil to the Conference on Disarmament, elaborated on the benefits of the regional workshops which they had hosted in the broader context of their Strategic Partnership with the EU. Other speakers of the event included Daniel Feakes, Head of BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU), and Dr James Revill, Research Fellow with the Harvard Sussex Program at the University of Sussex.

Since 2006, the EU has provided 6.3 million Euros to BTWC core activities through four dedicated assistance programmes. Support has been offered for national implementation, Confidence-Building Measures, universalisation efforts, strengthening the UN Secretary General's Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, enabling tools for awareness raising and education, and support for the preparations of BTWC Review Conferences. These efforts have contributed to the accession of more than 20 states to the BTWC and helped States Parties build national capacities and strengthen implementation. With the financial support of the EU, the ISU has developed an electronic facility increasing the number of annual submission of Confidence-Building Measures by States Parties. Up to 25 workshops have been organised in different parts of the world to promote universalisation, national implementation, and submission of Confidence-Building Measures under the BTWC. Guinea, Nepal and Liberia, the three latest States Parties to the BTWC, decided to join the Convention following the EU-sponsored regional workshops in New Delhi and Addis Ababa.