On the margins of the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, Japan, Lao PDR, the Philippines, the European Union and UNICRI delivered a joint side event showcasing “Efforts to Strengthen the Implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Southeast Asia”. The event was facilitated by Mr. Hirochika Namekawa, Counsellor of the Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Leonardo Bencini, President of the Conference, highlighted the importance of recent actions in Southeast Asia that have made an important contribution to enhancing the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention. “Cross-regional cooperation and capacity building are key to strengthen the BWC”, stated Ambassador Bencini, stressing how these aspects will constitute an important part of this Review Conference.
Mr. Jonelle John S. Domingo, the Head of the Disarmament Section of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines, presented one example of the region’s work in this area, illustrating the results of the “ASEAN Regional Forum Tabletop Exercise on Response Capabilities to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Incidents”. This compelling example shows that simulation and table-top exercises offer an important opportunity to identify challenges, gaps, and needs in the context of responding to biological threat and biological incidents, whether natural, accidental, or deliberate in origin. Such activities aid national authorities in addressing potential shortcomings before a crisis occur. They also set up critical channels of communications, providing a platform for national authorities, including CBRN focal points, to establish and maintain their respective international networks, thereby facilitating international coordination.
Ms. Somsanouk Keobounsan, Lao PDR National Contact Point to the Biological Weapons Convention, showcased how her country is reinvigorating the Confidence-Building Measure submission process in Lao PDR with the support from the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative, and thanks to hands-on training offered by the Philippines on tools and strategies for the submission of Confidence-Building Measures.
Complementing these remarks, Prof. Dr. Irma R. Makalinao, Coordinator for CBRN Health Security, University of the Philippines Manila (who led the training in Lao PDR), underscored how regional expertise can be successfully harnessed to design and deliver Confidence-Building Measure technical support through intra-regional cooperation in Southeast Asia.
Ambassador Ichiro Ogasawara, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, further highlighted the value of regional approaches to strengthening the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, by showcasing Japan’s cooperation efforts to enhance the capacity of Biological Weapons Convention National Contact Points in Southeast Asia. He also expressed Japan’s continued commitment to this end.
Mr. Domingo of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines concluded the side event by underscoring the tremendous value of these actions and the importance of fostering regional efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.