Staff from both the Verification and Monitoring and National Implementation Measures teams attended the third session of the Working Group on the Strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention, which took place last week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. VERTIC staff hosted and helped facilitate various side events and meetings to support the activities of the Working Group.

The side events and meetings led to valuable exchanges of ideas as well as awareness-raising regarding resources such as the National Implementation Database. VERTIC is particularly grateful for the UN’s hospitality, and to our project partners and funders for their contributions to the success of these activities. We look forward to future engagement with the Working Group in its upcoming sessions.

Side Event: Supporting the Legislative Implementation of the BWC

Thomas Brown, Roel Walravens and Larry MacFaul hosted a side event ‘Supporting the legislative implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention’ on the morning of Friday, 8 December. Thomas moderated the discussion and Larry provided opening remarks. Mr Dominic Meiklejohn, Head of CBW cluster in CPACC then provided keynote remarks on behalf of the UK. Next, Thomas and Roel presented an overview of VERTIC’s activities in support of legislative implementation and universalisation of the BWC. Thomas presented NIM’s work on misconceptions, BWC legislative analysis and BWC legislative drafting. Roel presented on VERTIC’s work with states on BWC legislative implementation, discussed the BWC legislative drafting workshop in Sierra Leone in November 2023, and presented VERTIC’s work on BWC universalisation. Mr Mustapha Sannoh, CBRN National Focal Point for Sierra Leone also spoke about Sierra Leone’s experience of working in collaboration with VERTIC on BWC legislative implementation.

UNIDIR-VERTIC Side Event: Uses and Functions of the National Implementation Measures Database

The UNIDIR-VERTIC side event ‘UNIDIR-VERTIC BWC National Implementation Measures Database’ took place at lunchtime at 13:15-14:45 on Friday 8 December 2023. UNIDIR Associate Researcher Ms María Garzón Maceda moderated the panel, which further comprised of Larry, Thomas, UNIDIR Head of the WMD and Space Security Programmes Mr James Revill , UNIDIR Researcher Ms Clarisse Bertherat and UNODA Project Coordinator and Legal Officer Mr Sylvain Fanielle . María provided the opening remarks and Clarisse then introduced the NIM database and gave an extensive live demonstration. Sylvain then spoke on the status of national implementation of the BWC and how the UNIDIR-VERTIC database can be used by researchers, assistance providers and states in their work. Thomas then spoke on three issues: an overview of VERTIC’s work, how the current UNIDIR-VERTIC database builds upon the work of VERTIC’s original BWC NIM database, and how the database may be used by offerors of assistance in informing their activities and by states parties. Larry and James then provided closing statements.

Expert Elicitation Meeting: Refining scenarios of biological weapons programmes

Alberto Muti and Hailey Wingo of the Verification and Monitoring Team hosted a private meeting on the sidelines of the Working Group in partnership with Dr Filippa Lentzos and Dr Jez Littlewood of King’s College London. The meeting focussed on refining drafted scenarios of biological weapons programmes which will be used to identify indicators of prohibited activities. This work forms the initial part of a larger project which aims to propose new approaches for monitoring compliance with the BWC. The research findings may be of particular interest to the current Working Group, whose agenda includes considering verification and compliance measures for the Convention.