Geneva, 16 December 2015. On 16 December 2015 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (Room XXV), the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office and international organizations in Geneva, in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), organized the Side-event to the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of State Parties entitled: “Putting Biosafety and Biosecurity under the Microscope: Elements for an International Approach to Reinforce Capabilities and Address Future Risks”.
The recent infectious diseases Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have shown that threats posed by disease outbreaks represent a significant risk for countries around the world. Such risks – whether natural, accidental or criminal in origin – underline the need to ensure continued adherence to biosafety and biosecurity standards and enhanced coordination at the national, regional and international levels.
In this regard, the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative, funded by the European Commission and implemented by UNICRI and the Joint Research Institute of the European Commission, has been successfully in enhancing cooperation between relevant stakeholders at the regional and international levels.
The Initiative, which started in 2010, created a framework that enables cooperation and coordination across all levels of governments and between countries, with the involvement of international partners such as the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC ISU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the 1540 Committee, the World Health Organization (WHO), and others.
The opening remarks of the Side-event were delivered by Ms. Cecilia B. Rebong, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva; Mr. Tristan Simonart, Programme Manager, EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence, European Union and Mr. Francesco Marelli, Head of CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance Programme, UNICRI.
During the Side-event in Geneva, the Philippines, as one of the leading countries of the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative, shared its experience in developing and adopting a National Action Plan for CBRN risk mitigation. Colonel Jose Embang Jr., National Focal Point of the Philippines, explained how the CBRN National Action Plan, developed in cooperation with UNICRI, is an essential instrument to identify country’s priorities and areas where capacities need to be enhanced. As a result, the National Action Plan provides the basis for the development of tailored projects and facilitates synergies between different response actors and suitable international donors. Dr. Alexander Hamilton, Senior Analyst of UNICRI, presented an innovative methodology to analyse current and future bio-risks related to advances in biotechnology.
The event provided for an opportunity to discuss some of the key elements for the development of an international approach to address present and future bio-risks. Different perspectives converged on this topic thanks to the contributions of the following policy-makers advisors from government, the industry and the academia: Dr. Mark van Passel, from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, of the Dutch Ministry of Health; Dr. Pierre Viaud, Executive Director of SICPA Security Solutions SA; and Professor Irma Makalinao from Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine University of the Philippines Manila.
Dr. Veronica Baldo from Landau Network Fondazione Volta highlighted opportunities to enhance coordination and the exchange of best practices in the area of biosafety and biosecurity, with a particular focus on the International Biotechnology Network of Public and Private Institutes developed by UNICRI and Landau Network Fondazione Volta within the framework of the CBRN Centres of Excellence.
The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is funded by the European Commission and implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC). The European External Action Service is also involved in the follow-up of the initiative. The initiative is developed with the technical support of relevant international and regional organisations, the EU Member States and other stakeholders, through coherent and effective cooperation at the national, regional and international level.
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