European Union External Action

EU steps up its support for the Biological Weapons Convention

18/03/2019 - 15:00
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On Monday, 18 March, the EU Delegation, together with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), organised a launch event for the new EU Council Decision in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).

"The threat of proliferation of biological and toxin weapons remains real in light of rapid advancements in life sciences," Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, stated at the opening of the event.

"We must remain vigilant and ensure that our governance structures – legislation, administration, judicial systems, law enforcement – are up to date to minimize the risk of malicious use of pathogens or toxins and that we are well prepared and in a position to respond quickly to the challenges when needed."

Since 2006, the EU has provided dedicated funding to the BTWC Implementation Support Unit in order to promote adherence to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The Unit also supports national implementation of the Convention in countries outside the EU.

EU funding has been used for example for organizing regional workshops as well for providing expert assistance in strengthening national legislation, improving  biosecurity in laboratories and planning emergency response to possible biothreats.

During the thirteen years of EU funding, 27 new states have joined the Convention and nearly all of them have either taken part in EU-funded workshops or received some other form of assistance.

Referring to implementation of the convention, EU Ambassador Stevens also highlighted the role of international cooperation: "This is essentially a national responsibility, but international cooperation and assistance can play a useful role in building the necessary capacities for national implementation of the BTWC."

A new Council Decision in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention was adopted by EU ministers in January 2019.