On 4 December, a side event under the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence initiative took place to discuss how civil society can contribute to the implementation of the BTWC. The speakers representing the Regional Secretariat of the CBRN Centre of Excellence in Central Asia (Bakhtior Gulyamov), the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and Caucasus BACAC (Lela Bakanidze), the International Science and Technology Center ISTC (Dr. Hendrik Visser), VERTIC (Yasemin Balci) and King’s College (Filippa Lentsos) showcased examples of successful regional cooperation, such as the annual conference in Central Asia of March 2019, which had brought together over 170 participants from governments, international organisations, industry, academia and civil society to advance biosafety and biosecurity in the region.
In a second side event of the week, the BTWC Implementation Support Unit organized an EU-funded panel discussion about the potential impact of global trends in science and technology on the BWC.
The representatives of the EU Delegation (Anne Kemppainen) and the UN Office on Disarmament Affairs (Anja Kaspersen) highlighted the EU’s long-standing support which has helped to promoting universal adherence to the BTWC and enhance its implementation under seven successive EU Joint Actions and Council Decisions since 2006.
Participants on the panel, comprised of representatives of the Philippines (Irma Makalinao), South Africa (Lizeka Tandwa), Jordan (Nisreen Alhmoud), Mexico (Luis Ochoa) and Ukraine (Serhiy Komisarenko) presented snapshots from the EU-funded five regional science and technology workshops, which were conducted in 2017 and 2018 under EU Council Decision CFSP/2016/51. They had demonstrated the importance of better involving the scientific community in national implementation of the BTWC and encouraged further awareness-raising, education, training and communication between relevant stakeholder in order to improve biosafety and biosecurity. The representatives of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security (Nancy Connell and Lucia Mullen) announced an upcoming publication that will summarise the main outcomes with the title "Science and Technology issues for the Biological Weapons Convention: Five Regional Workshops 2017-2018."
With the most recent EU Council Decision CFSP/2019/97 of January 2019, the EU has reaffirmed its support to the BTWC with a provision of a budget of 3 million EUR for the period of 2019-22. This allows the BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) to facilitate six new projects in support of its universalisation and capacity building, fostering biosecurity in the Global South, as well as increasing preparedness to respond to biological attacks, amongst others.