EU CBRN Centres of Excellence

Jul 18 2013
VERTIC Blog >> National Implementation Measures

NIM Programme, 18 July 2013

The EU CBRN Centres of Excellence (CoE) Risk Mitigation Initiative is a European Union initiative jointly implemented by the EU Directorate General (DG) Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid (DEVCO), the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

This innovative Initiative is based on networking, regional and international partnerships. It consolidates and optimises existing capabilities while increasing local ownership, local expertise and long-term sustainability. It addresses regional CBRN needs through tailored projects and aims at strengthening policies, institutional capacity building at both regional and national levels as well as a regional culture of safety and security.

It promotes a method of pooling international expertise on CBRN issues, streamlining inputs from multiple assistance providers and developing regional and national expertise which other funders may find interesting to replicate in the future, bearing in mind lessons learned from this process.

VERTIC is currently contributing to two EU CBRN CoE projects. We are the leading organisation for Project 8, a project which supports the national implementation of CBRN treaties in five South East Asian countries (Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) and we are a technical body on Project 3, which focuses on delivering training and exchanging best practices on bio-safety, bio-security and bio-risk management across a number of different regions.   

Funded by the EU Instrument for Stability, the Centres of Excellence are really virtual hubs of expertise. The project implementers consist of key experts who provide dedicated input to the project and other experts who provide ad hoc assistance as required. These experts are based with a range of different government departments, international and non-governmental organisations and research institutes across the world.  These entities all work together as a consortium, each bringing their own experience, human capital and information resources to the project.

The aim is to create a “network of experts, facilities and training areas” rather than building actual bricks and mortar academic or research centres. This does seem to be the way forward for providing cross-cutting expertise on issues of global relevance. The relative ease of communication, travel and information sharing means that such structures have an enormous potential.

From the start, the EU CBRN CoE projects have provided a fascinating opportunity to interact with different assistance providers – both state and non-state actors - from a range of different countries as well as cementing strong relations with the project partner countries.

Providing assistance to states at the global level can be a delicate balancing act. VERTIC has a well-established programme of assisting interested States with the national implementation of certain CBRN treaties and related legal instruments. Yet there is no one model for legislative assistance and no specific method for obtaining the optimal results. At the end of the day every country and each set of circumstances are unique. The EU CBRN CoE initiative provides an as yet unparalleled opportunity for assistance providers to exchange best practice and ideas with experts working in similar fields. For example, within Project 8, VERTIC leads a consortium whose other members are the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), a German federal agency, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project outcomes will be enriched by the broad and varied experience of the consortium members.

A critique of many international assistance activities is that they are often too centred on the priorities of donors rather than the needs of beneficiary countries themselves. The EU CBRN CoE initiative seeks to head off this concern by enhancing partner countries’ ownership and national and collective regional capacity to address CBRN risks. Regional Secretariats have been set up in each of the regions where EU CBRN CoE projects are implemented, led by a national of the country where they are located with a deputy from another state in the region. Their stated objective is to assist all partner countries in the region with formulating project proposals and action plans and evaluating projects.

At the national level, CBRN teams are formed under the auspices of a national focal point. Made up of all relevant Government departments, these national teams are responsible for identifying their countries specific needs, collecting relevant data as well as contributing to and overseeing project activities. Going forward it will be vitally important to empower these regional and national bodies to drive the process of project implementation and ensure that regional and national interests are central to the design and delivery of EU CBRN CoE projects.

A new challenge would be having more donors supporting the development of global expertise and cooperation models. It is an exciting venture to be a part of and a model that is ripe for refinement and replication in the years to come.

The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union

Last changed: Oct 31 2013 at 6:23 PM