Twelfth Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence National Focal Points Round-Table Meeting for Eastern and Central Africa

Opening statement by the RC ad interim at the CBRN Risk Mitigation CoE National Focal Points Round-Table Meeting for Eastern and Central Africa

It is my pleasure to be with you today at this round-table meeting organized within the framework of the CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative, funded by the European Union, and implemented by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and European Commission Joint Research Centre in close collaboration with the partner countries.

The threats posed by CBRN weapons and materials are at the top of the international security agenda, as confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 66/282 (2012) and the accompanying report of the Secretary-General[1] regarding the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It is also evident that an effective strategy to mitigate CBRN risks of criminal, accidental or natural origin requires a high level of collaboration and coordination both between different national agencies and among countries and international and regional organizations.

The CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative, which started its implementation in 2010, addresses the mitigation of and preparedness against risks related to CBRN material and agents seeking to boost cooperation at national, regional and international levels, and to develop a common and coherent CBRN risk mitigation policy. The Initiative puts in place a framework for cooperation and coordination across all levels of government and among international partners, such as Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC ISU), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the 1540 Committee[2], Word Health Organization and others. The programme also facilitates regional cooperation in order to enhance CBRN capabilities. 

This Initiative has been present in the region of the Eastern and Central Africa since 2012. Its Centre of Excellence currently counts eleven partner countries: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The Republic of Ghana has officially joined in January 2014 through an exchange of letters between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the European Commission, but the country has been engaging with the Initiative and contributing with its expertise from its very first interactions with the region in 2012. We are very grateful for its active role and the decision to host the regional meeting.

We are very grateful for its active role in supporting the region and the Regional Secretariat. For example, Ghana has previously benefitted from the CoE Project 17 - Establishing a national response plan in Ghana and Kenya for responding to unauthorized events involving CBRN materials implemented by the National Security Council Secretariat. In June last year Ghanaian experts provided assistance the Republic of Malawi which expressed interest to learn from the regional experience in the field of first response and putting in place a solid response measures for mitigation of CBRN incidents.

We truly believe that this exchange of experience and expertise will contribute to the sustainability of the CBRN Risk Mitigation initiative and the development of greater ownership amongst the partner countries.

This twelfth round-table meeting will provide an opportunity for the National Focal Points and experts from the region to share the latest developments related to the national CBRN risk mitigation efforts, including implementation of current and future projects, and to work on revising regional priorities on the basis of the national needs assessments and national action plans drafted so far. We are very proud of these efforts, as they enable better informed and focussed regional collaboration in CBRN risk mitigation.

In the morning session you will hear updates on the progress from the respective National Focal Points. This will then help you to move on to further revising and updating regional priorities to be addressed through the Initiative ensuring that future CoE projects will continue to reflect the most urgent needs of all countries.

I also encourage the partner countries to join the UN Group of Friends on CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance which addresses and promotes various CBRN related topics at the United Nations, including the Security Council, by actively engaging with member states, donor countries and the UN Secretariat.

Honourable Minister, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United Nations family I want to express our sincere gratitude for the support and commitment of the Republic of Ghana and for the hard work invested by all National Focal Points.

I wish all participants a fruitful round-table meeting. Thank you for your attention.

[1] A/66/762 (4 April 2012): United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: activities of the United Nations system in implementing the Strategy – Report of the Secretary-General

[2] The committee established by the Security Council to monitor the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) , which – among other matters - imposes binding obligations on all States to adopt legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery, and  establish appropriate domestic controls over related materials to prevent their illicit traffickin

Speech by
Author
Ms. Sylvia Lopez Ekra
Chief of Mission, IOM
IOM
IOM Chief of Mission
UN entities involved in this initiative
IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
WHO
World Health Organization