The “Biological Weapons Convention Workshop”, organized by RACVIAC and the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (UNODA BWCISU), was conducted from 1st to 2nd March 2023 in RACVIAC.
The BWC Workshop was organized for the first time in 2021 as an online activity and the following year as a hybrid event. The positive feedbacks and the interest shown by RACVIAC Members prompted the organizers to hold it once again this year but with a different focus. Implementation of Article X of the BWC, which is the main topic of the Workshop, they stress, can play an important role in fostering regional cooperation and could contribute to an enhanced level of preparedness and resilience among RACVIAC Members for bio-related incidents, regardless of their origin.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), or the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), entered into force in 1975 and was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the risks posed by biological agents – whether naturally occurring or deliberately released. An in-depth understanding of the BWC and its provisions can, therefore, contribute to strengthening of regional and global stability, it has been also underlined.
In addition, the purpose of this Workshop was to provide a broad overview of the Convention, the most important issues and challenges (inter alia, the existing ‘gaps’), the latest developments, and lessons learned.
The Workshop was opened by MG (ret.) Jeronim Bazo, RACVIAC Director and Ms Ngoc Phuong van der Blij, Political Affairs Officer, UNODA BWCISU. MG Bazo in his Opening speech emphasized: “In order to make the Workshop more interactive and effective, we decided again to combine the lectures with a table top exercise and an active learning session. This event provides you also with an opportunity to visit the Ruđer Bošković Institute, the largest Croatian scientific research center.“
Ms Phuong van der Blij expressed her great appreciation to RACVIAC for the important work already undertaken in the Arms control area in the region and for coorganizing this Workshop with them. „This Workshop comes at a very timely moment, as a timely initiative that we hope will enable informal dicussions for countries in the region.“
On the second day of the Workshop the participants visited the Ruđer Bošković Institute where they were welcomed by Dr. David Matthew Smith, Director General. After the Director’s introduction, Dr. Ivica Rubelj, Head of the Institute’s Division of Molecular Biology, held a presentation regarding the work of his particular Division and Dr. Tihomir Balog introduced them to the work of the Division of Molecular Medicine. Later on the participants visited the Laboratory for Cell Biology and Signalling, Laboratory of Cell Dynamics and Laboratory for Advanced Genomics.
RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation was privileged to have 18 participants representing 8 countries from the region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary and Kosovo*) taking part in this fruitful Workshop where comments and questions were welcomed, and a comprehensive and multifaced approach was required. Involving all voices is crucial for the dialogue, which is, among other things, RACVIAC mission.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. (In accordance with Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation.)