Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
GPWG 2012 REPORT ON THE G-8 GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP AGAINST THE SPREAD OF WEAPONS AND MATERIALS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (Global Partnership or GP) was established by the G8 in 2002 and originally conceived as a 10-year, $20 billion initiative to prevent terrorists, or states that support them, from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since its inception in 2002, Global Partnership members have spent over $21 billion towards preventing terrorists from acquiring or developing WMD.
For the first 10 years of the initiative, the majority of work within the Global Partnership was focused on destroying Russian nuclear submarines and Russian chemical weapons, though funding also went to activities and programs in other states of the former Soviet Union.
On the basis of the 2011 G8GP Assessment and Options for Future Programming document agreed in May 2011, G8 Leaders extended the GP beyond its original 10-year mandate and enunciated several areas of focus for its future work: nuclear and radiological security, biosecurity, scientist engagement, and facilitation of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540. The leaders highlighted the importance of bringing in additional partners to the initiative. They also agreed that while the GP is committed to complete priority projects inRussia, the GP should also seek to fund work globally.
As a result of the broadened mandate that was part of the extension decision and support by G8 Leaders, as evidenced in 2012 Summit Statements, more GP partners are considering activities and projects in areas and regions of the world in which they had not funded projects before, such as Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia.
For example, at the G8 Summit in Camp David in May 2012, the Leaders issued a statement commending, “the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction as it remains committed to completing priority projects in Russia and takes forward work on the mandate agreed at the Deauville Summit.” The statement goes on to recognize Global Partnership efforts in reducing threats, improving security, and supporting the Nuclear Security Summits, and welcomes the ongoing participation of relevant international organizations in the global effort to improve coordination of WMD counterproliferation initiatives.
As Chair of the GP this year, the United States provided a road map to guide the GP towards becoming a coordinating mechanism for activities and programs under the extended mandate. Promoting funding through the work of the GP and with the relevant international organizations (IOs) now engaged provides a more integrated mechanism for funding and implementing programs under the extended GP mandate.
The United States focused initially on three areas: biosecurity, membership expansion, and Centers of Excellence. Three informal Global Partnership Sub-Working Groups were initiated to establish a strategy for going forward in these areas. There was also a goal to eventually promote a greater focus in the other highlighted areas mandated by leaders, such as in the areas of nuclear and radiological security and scientist engagement. By the end of the year, two additional sub-working groups were established: the nuclear and radiological security sub-working group and the chemical security sub-working group. Through the five GP meetings, the partners have a growing understanding of required assistance needs from around the world and potential funding in new GP focus areas.
Coordination and information exchange
By adjusting the meeting schedule and agenda, increasing the engagement of non-G8 GP partners, including international organizations, and facilitating the direct engagement with the UNSCR 1540 Committee, the GP increased coordination, information gathering, and exchange of information among partners concerning ongoing and potential GP projects. In light of the GP’s new broader mission, information needed to be developed and exchanged about the existing programs of some GP partners who are already funding work globally, along with global requirements in the new GP priority areas. As a result, partners have begun to increase coordination of the efforts they seek to fund in other regions.
Looking forward, it is likely that many GP projects could be smaller in nature compared with funding in the past, further promoting the need for coordination and information sharing among GP partners. Providing biosafety and biosecurity resources and training to national public health and veterinary laboratories in Africa, border security efforts in Latin America, regional training within Centers of Excellence (COEs) on discrete 1540-related topics (e.g. export controls), or promoting nuclear security “best practices” within specific regions are examples of smaller projects that are consistent with the GP’s priorities. GP members understood that in 2012 they would need to emphasize information gathering and education about such projects and the means to implement them.
For this reason, the U.S. Chair invited international organizations to the Global Partnership meetings. IOs fund work in the areas the GP is also funding, therefore real time coordination and information sharing is important. The inclusion of IOs proved effective, as dialogue between GP states and the IOs is now commonplace and potential collaborative projects are being actively discussed.
In 2012, the level of engagement of non-G8 members was expanded significantly. All non-G8 GP members were invited to attend all GP meetings. This helped ensure that the goal of increasing coordination among the partners would be successful since all the partners would be present to engage in discussions and exchange information.
The result has been a much deeper engagement in GP deliberations and activities by non-G8 GP members than was the case in the past. In fact, one such GP member, Sweden, agreed to host the first GP meeting outside a G8 country. The GP expects that this trend toward fully engaging non-G8 GP members in GP activities and deliberations will continue.
In order to provide sufficient time and momentum during GP meetings to coordinate, engage, and exchange information to promote the new mandate for programming set by Leaders in Deauville, the meeting format was extended from one day to two and the number of meetings increased from four to five. The U.S. hosted meetings in January in Washington, DC; in March in Boston, Massachusetts; in April in Miami, Florida at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM); in August with Sweden in Stockholm; and finally in October in San Francisco, California at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.
The Addition of International Organizations to the Global Partnership
In 2012, the GP invited colleagues from relevant International Organizations to attend GP meetings. As a result, these representatives became active participants in Global Partnership meetings throughout the year. They provided valuable input and information exchange opportunities. They have also had an opportunity to meet amongst themselves during the two days of meetings. This promoted information exchange among the IO participants. Most importantly, they have taken the time to discuss specific ways in which they can work with the GP.
The meetings with IOs produced tangible results in two ways. First, they facilitated communication between GP members and the IOs, which is leading to increased partnerships. Second, the meetings gave the IOs opportunities to interact with GP members and ensure that their capacities are known. This manifested itself in particular in the production, by the IOs, of short papers articulating specific IO projects which are consistent with GP priorities as well as UNSCR 1540 commitments. These papers can provide a basis for future coordination and cooperation between the IOs and GP members.
Participation from IOs has been very helpful, spanning a breadth of capacities and interests. IOs and other organizations participating in the U.S. Government-led side meetings include the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC-ISU), Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), INTERPOL, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Organization of American States (OAS), United Nations 1540 Committee, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), World Customs Organization (WCO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Establishment of Sub-Working Groups
This year, the GP established five sub-working groups to help focus GP partners on specific areas of interest. Three were established early in the year - the Biosecurity Sub-Working Group, the New Members Sub-Working Group, and the Centers of Excellence Sub-Working group, while the establishment of two other sub-working groups, the Nuclear and Radiological Security Sub-Working Group and the Chemical Security Sub-Working Group, were approved in October. The 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, of which 24 of the 25 partners participated, provided additional impetus for the GP to play a role in the promotion of Nuclear Security Summit goals.
A. The Global Partnership Biosecurity Sub-Working Group (BSWG)
The U.S. established a GP Biosecurity Sub-Working Group, or the BSWG, that promotes a program of work that brings together health and security sectors so that Global Partnership members can provide coordinated assistance to nations to counter biological threats. The BSWG promotes efforts to reduce risks associated with biological threats, regardless of cause, through collaboration with other member nations, international organizations, and health and science sector counterparts. These sectors can help prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies. As partners, these communities can also build the capacity needed to address biological events, whether the result of an intentional action, by accident, or because of a naturally occurring infectious disease outbreak.
To accomplish these goals, the BSWG has included strong representation from international organizations representing the global public, veterinary, and agricultural health sectors. The BSWG has also been briefed by related non-governmental organizations and academic experts. During the course of the year, the BSWG met seven times, bringing together security and health representatives from across the GP, as well as representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC ISU), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and INTERPOL. The Sub-Working Group agreed to a detailed deliverables document highlighting five key areas of activity (Annex A):
1. Secure and account for materials that represent biological proliferation risks;
2. Develop and maintain appropriate and effective measures to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the deliberate misuse of biological agents;
3. Strengthen national and global networks to rapidly identify, confirm and respond to biological attacks;
4. Reinforce and strengthen biological nonproliferation principles, practices and instruments; and
5. Reduce proliferation risks through the advancement and promotion of safe and responsible conduct in the biological sciences.
The group agreed to review progress in each of these five areas on an annual basis, with an outcomes assessment to be conducted after a period of five years.
The group also recognized that prioritizing these areas will have the added benefit of:
As part of making tangible and measurable progress this year and for the future of the BSWG, the group proposed considering “flagship” projects that match up with the goals of each of the five deliverables and could extend over a period of one to three years. Examples of flagship projects are: support for FAO and OIE in Rinderpest virus (RPV) post-eradication activities to ensure that remaining stocks of Rinderpest virus are sequestered and secured in a minimum number of approved high containment facilities, and assisting the WHO in identifying gaps for all nations not yet meeting the IHR core capacity requirements.
In December the GP hosted an event in Geneva on “Global Health Security Collaboration Between the GP and International Organizations” (Annex B). The event highlighted collaboration between the WHO, FAO, OIE, and GP regarding support for rinderpest post-eradication efforts and national efforts to strengthen their core capacities and implement International Health Regulations. In addition to most members participating in the event, a number of potential members attended, demonstrating their continued interest in the GP.
Furthermore, in 2012 the GP developed a new tool, known as the Global Bio Initiative Portal (GBIP) which is designed to share information and ideas concerning GP activities within the GP community to improve global biological security.
GBIP has the potential to become an essential “one stop shop” for all biosecurity related activities and is essential for the BSWG process. The secure, internet-based portal platform allows for instant and easy access to a wealth of biosecurity materials, events, and information. The collaborative design can identify opportunities for partners to contribute, de-conflict and coordinate mission-related activities, and provide an environment in which to propose and field ideas.
As a recommendation for the future of the Biosecurity Sub-Working Group, it is important to seek Deliverable Leads and Co-Leads for each of the five areas, and specific GP Member leadership on one or more specific flagship projects under each deliverable. The U.S. recommends that the BSWG continue to host at least five meetings a year – at least one per deliverable. Representation is encouraged on a multi-sectoral basis, and GP members should be encouraged to develop and provide additional opportunities under the BSWG for working group meetings or subgroups to discuss and highlight progress or model activities pertaining to specific deliverables or flagships.
The BSWG work has resulted in a demonstrated increased interest by several GP members and an increased financial commitment to the global biological security focus areas under the GPWG.
Finally, the idea of flagship projects should be considered in other future GP endeavors, whether in the area of nuclear and radiological security, scientist engagement, chemical security, or implementing UNSCR resolution 1540.
B. The Membership Expansion Sub-Working Group
In 2011, the G8 Leaders agreed that the GP should bring in new partners. As a means of implementing this mandate, in 2012, the GP created a sub-working group on membership expansion – co-chaired by Canada and the Netherlands – to coordinate outreach and inclusion of new members.
In January 2012, the GP welcomed Kazakhstan as a new member, and in December welcomed Mexico, bringing the total number of GP members to 25. The GP still seeks members from South America, Africa, the Middle East, and from more countries in Asia.
The GP agreed on several new potential members to the GPWG in 2012. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands jointly demarched each of the potential members to assess their interest in joining the GP, and traveled to some of the potential member countries to have discussion with relevant officials. Later in the year the GP agreed that it could invite potential members to be observers at GP meetings. Two countries attended GP meetings in 2012 as observers (Mexico and Spain).
The sub-working group produced a document titled, “The Global Partnership: Addressing WMD Proliferation and Terrorism” that could be provided to potential members for background on the GP. The GP also agreed to a document that outlines the tasks of the Working Group and one that outlines the considerations partners may take into account when discussing potential new GP members. Such considerations are in addition to the Kananaskis Principles that all potential members adopt before becoming GP members.
Over the course of the year it became clear to the sub-working group that a number of potential members are interested in joining the GP, and are discussing this internally within their governments. There are other potential members who are interested in the GP, but are not able to join at this time. Generally, potential members see the advantages of joining the GP. However, even in the case of potential partners who are interested in joining, the process takes time.
Discussions with prospective members have emphasized that it is not necessary for new members to make large financial commitments, but that partnership focuses on the role all can play within their respective capabilities and expertise, or having regard to the political credibility their presence could bring to this global effort. In face to face exchanges with officials from potential countries, the sub-working group leaders helped them understand that they could still play an important role in the GP. These exchanges have shown the value of outreach efforts.
Bringing in new members must remain a GP priority. As the GP reaches out to other regions of the world to fund activities, having the voice of security experts and other officials from those regions would be extremely valuable. The strategy for next steps with each particular nation must be regularly updated. The fact that this effort takes time should be understood. The sub-working group should continue its demarches and use all opportunities it has to engage officials from potential new partners in discussions about joining the GP. The GP should also continue to invite potential members as observers.
Most importantly, all GP partners should make an effort to engage relevant officials from the potential countries in dialogue about the benefits of being a part of the initiative since additional members will fulfill our mandate for increased membership and benefit the entire GP.
C. The Center of Excellence Sub-Working Group
CoEs and training centers can assist States in fulfilling international requirements under UNSCR 1540 and other international obligations that combat chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. CoEs address specific CBRN threat mitigation needs of a Member State, and in many cases, also conduct regional and even global outreach. They can also provide a platform for addressing cross cutting issues such as nuclear security culture and sustainability, and they have great potential in advancing the Global Partnership Mission.
The GP CoE SWG facilitates leveraging CoEs by GP partners, in order to better meet their respective global security objectives and advance the Global Partnership mission. The sub-working group’s objectives include:
The chair of the CoE WG, the United Kingdom, presented a concept paper that outlined ideas and direction for SWG consideration on ways to strengthen the role of CoEs in meeting global security objectives. Several presentations were made at earlier GP meetings, including from the EU, IAEA, Japan and Italy, facilitating a better understanding of CoE programs and activities by potential users. The August GP meeting focused on ways to better integrate chemical (CW) and biological weapons (BW) mitigation efforts into the CoE framework. To this end, presentations were made by the EU, WHO, OPCW, and Poland, who provided an update on their Tarnow chemical security center of excellence.
C1. The EU CBRNs
Principally through the CoE sub-working group, the GP provided opportunities for EU CBRN CoE representatives to discuss their initiative. These updates provided an opportunity for the EU to seek new project ideas from GP members, de-conflict with current GP activities, and work with those members to develop the projects, identify the right regional partners, and jointly establish funding mechanisms. Continuing this process would also enable non-EU GP members to participate in the EU process in a timely manner.
The CoE sub-working group can consider a number of directions for future activities.
D. Nuclear and Radiological Security
In the G8 Global Partnership Assessment and Options for Future Programming document of 2011, the GP noted some possible activities for engagement in the area of nuclear and radiological security under an extended mandate. Those areas include:
The GP could also focus on priorities established at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and look for areas where the GP can help to facilitate progress and encourage program implementation toward those priorities.
The GP recognized the links between its mission and the Nuclear Security Summit process, which aims to enhance the physical protection of nuclear materials and strengthen capacities to prevent illicit trafficking. For example, the Global Partnership is already a critical mechanism for implementing the political commitments arising from the Summits.
More broadly, the GP provides its members a forum to discuss specific Summit-related activities appropriate for GP engagement and coordination, to exchange information on current GP member program activities and those of the relevant IOs, and to identify potential gaps and specific opportunities for GP members to partner or leverage each others’ implementation efforts.
A more dedicated focus on nuclear and radiological security within the GP could contribute in the area of nuclear and radiological security by:
As a deliverable at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, the GP agreed in March 2011 to a joint statement that highlighted the funding by GP members to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund (NSF), from January 2010 to March 2012. The NSF was created in 2001 to support the IAEA’s nuclear security related activities, including those to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. The GP members and the IAEA calculated the amount of funding made during that time frame and the GPWG was able to release a statement at the 2012 Summit. The statement notes that since January 2010, Global Partnership countries contributed more than $55 million to the NSF.
Because 24 of 25 GP members are also participants in the Nuclear Security Summit process, areas of synergy between the Global Partnership and the Summit process can be developed and strengthened. The work effort associated with the NRSWG should be supportive of member nations’ work leading up to the 2014 Summit. As noted, at the October meeting, the Global Partnership agreed to establish a Nuclear and Radiological Security Sub-working Group. The sub-working group will be chaired by the United Kingdom.
E. Chemical Security
The GP has a long history in the area of chemical weapons security. For the past ten years, GP partners have funded the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia. In the GP Assessment and Options for Future Programming document, the GP noted that “should new chemical weapons challenges emerge, the G8 could help implement effective appropriate measures to address these issues.” The GP left open the door to continue to engage in the area of chemical weapons, work that has acquired additional resonance and urgency in light of recent developments in the Middle East.
This year during the GP meetings, there were several discussions regarding the area of chemical security. In Miami, the GP decided to consider the establishment of a Chemical Security Sub-Working Group. Poland was asked to present some ideas for possible tasks of this group since Poland has shown a particular interest in the subject matter. Poland presented two versions of its paper and it was discussed among the group in both the August and October GP meetings.
As noted, following the discussions at the October meeting, the Global Partnership agreed to establish a Chemical Security Sub-working Group. The group will be chaired by Poland and Ukraine.
Implementation of UNSCR 1540
In the 2011 Assessment and Future Options paper, the GP agreed that, “The renewal of the Global Partnership could also provide an opportunity for countries to work collectively to implement WMD non-proliferation obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540, including preventing WMD and related materials from getting into the hands of non-state actors such as terrorists.”
UNSCR 1540 experts attended two GP meetings prior to 2012 (one during the Canadian chairmanship in 2010, and one during the French chairmanship in 2011), providing the GP with a better understating of the UNSCR 1540 mandate and potential areas of collaboration between the GP and UNSCR 1540. This year, the 1540 Committee has been invited to each GP meeting. 1540 experts have attended each meeting and have at times chaired the GP regional break-out groups. The U.S. Chair has also visited New York several times to speak directly with 1540 experts. Importantly, the UNSCR 1540 Chair attended the Stockholm GP meeting. This increased engagement has helped the GP to understand the 1540 Committee process and potential areas of convergence with respect to1540 assistance requests. The increased involvement of international organizations has also resulted in the sharing of information related to 1540 objectives.
At the first GP meeting in 2012, 1540 experts presented a list of all of the 1540 requests made to the committee and in each case, also listed specific GP countries and relevant IOs who they believed would be able to provide assistance in meeting the request. This is valuable information the GP should focus on in the future.
Ambassador Baso Sangqu, the 1540 Chair, noted at the GP Stockholm meeting that, “The Committee’s work will have to take into account more effective means of working with States on implementation and channeling of assistance, where requested. In due course we will be ready to share with you relevant information on this subject. It may facilitate the discussions in depth of ongoing and future projects that GPWG members can coordinate and fund and we may find new opportunities for our collaboration.”
He also highlighted that “the 1540 Committee is interested in constant dialogue with the GPWG on [the matter] of assistance requests and on all issues related to assistance and capacity building,” mentioning that “in the future, the 1540 Committee experts will continue to brief the Global Partnership on the status of assistance requests and matchmaking activities, with a view to facilitate delivery of assistance related to resolution 1540 (2004) in a timely and effective manner.”
The Chairman’s remarks have been placed on the 1540 Committee website at http://www.un.org/en/sc/1540/transparency-and-outreach/outreach-events/chairman-statements.shtml
In November, Ambassador Sangqu presented a paper to the GP Chair on behalf of the 1540 Committee supporting enhanced cooperation between the GP and the 1540 Committee. In addition to highlighting areas of collaboration, the document provides that, ‘The 1540 Committee and the Global Partnership support the shared goal of preventing by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.”
The next GP Chair should take steps to continue to strengthen the relationships between the GP and UNSCR 1540 and continue to promote the matching of GP activities and programs with UN 1540 assistance requests. In addition, GP partners should continue to be encouraged to contribute to the 1540 fund, to make available in-kind contributions or cost-free training to the 1540 committee, and where possible, to respond to requests for assistance.
Building on the Recommendations for a Coordinated Approach in the Field of Global WMD Knowledge Proliferation and Scientist Engagement, as agreed to by the GP during Italy’s 2009 G-8 Presidency, GP Partners continue to address the human dimension of proliferation by funding projects to engage former WMD scientists or scientists with WMD-related expertise in the development of sustainable civilian research and other activities.
Consistent with the 2011 Assessment document, GP partners can utilize scientist engagement programs to help promote knowledge and information security, meet international nonproliferation and nuclear security objectives, and expand the GP’s geographic reach.
The 2011 Assessment document detailed some potential areas where the GP can engage, including:
Scientist engagement and collaboration is a tool that GP members can deploy in order to meet the full range of GP objectives. Many projects that advance nuclear and radiological security, chemical security, biological security, or 1540 implementation can be strengthened through the involvement of the scientific community. In fact, such involvement can greatly increase the prospects for sustained and meaningful progress with respect to each of these GP priorities.
In the past year, scientist engagement and collaboration has emerged as an ongoing topic of interest for the Global Partnership:
GP members have an opportunity to build on these efforts and incorporate scientist engagement and collaboration into their programs. The Global Partnership is well suited to promote scientist collaboration; consistent with its global priorities, worldwide reach, and capacity to pursue a variety of approaches to advance its objectives.
The 2013 Chair of the GP could take on the area of scientist engagement and strengthen the work of the GP in this area of focus.
Another new effort in 2012 was to find a way to make the GPWG annual Annex, which lists acivites of the partners, including funding levels and description of projects and the geographical location of projects, a more useful tool for the GP. The Annex should be used by partners to assess current activities and determine gaps in funding or opportunities where a particular country may piggy back on other projects. With new information requested from partners, and more information being incorporated into the Annex, the Annex can continue to become a more accurate determination of the types of activities being engaged by all GP members. However, the Annex will only be useful if GP members continue to provide as much information as available each year into the document.
GP Outreach efforts
One of the goals this year has been to increase the knowledge and international recognition of the Global Partnership. Some of the outreach efforts in which the U.S Chair was engaged or the GP was represented in 2012 include the following:
The next chair should consider ways in which the GP can continue these types of outreach efforts so as to increase the international visibility of the Global Partnership.
In conclusion, the US Chair began the process of implementing the 2011 Deauville mandate. Several important suggestions were presented in this document for the UK presidency to consider to further strengthen the GP and its work in the new areas of focus. Through future collaboration and awareness we build Partnerships.
Index of References
Annex A: Biodeliverables Document
Annex B: Statement from Director General Chan Pages
The 2011 G8 Summit at Deauville agreed to extend the Global Partnership (GP) beyond 2012 based on the areas of focus enunciated at Muskoka, including nuclear and radiological security, biosecurity, scientist engagement, and facilitation of implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. The 2011 G8 Summit also produced an Assessment and Options for Future Programming document that highlighted biological security work that could be done originating from a proposal made previously under the auspices of the Canadian G8 Presidency to strengthen global biological security. In 2012, under the US G8 Presidency, the Global Partnership members have focused on five corresponding deliverables. These efforts are promoted by GP members with the support of relevant international organizations taking part in the GP informal Biological Security Working Sub-Group. These international organizations include the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) Implementation Support Unit, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). With this in mind, the GP members agree on the following set of activities to be annually reviewed and the outcome assessed after a period of five years, taking into account support voluntarily provided by GP members to countries and international organizations, upon their request, for implementing these activities in accordance with Kananaskis Principles and Guidelines.
1. Secure and account for materials that represent biological proliferation risks. Assistance includes implementing existing international and developing national systems for managing biological materials, including stores of pathogens/toxins that represent proliferation risks in a safe and secure manner, with the goal that all nations may adhere to existing international standards and/or guidelines for biorisk management and oversight appropriate to their circumstances.
2. Develop and maintain appropriate and effective measures to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the deliberate misuse of biological agents. In recognition that full and effective implementation of international health regulations, standards and guidelines as well as national and international biosafety and biosecurity regulations contribute to preventing, preparing for, detecting, reporting, and responding to biological attacks, assistance includes building and strengthening sustainable national capacities to meet these requirements, taking into account multisectoral approaches.
3. Strengthen national and global networks to rapidly identify, confirm and respond to biological attacks. Assistance includes supporting the identification and implementation of shared approaches for deploying and strengthening coherent national and global biosurveillance, information systems, and networks to better detect, identify, confirm, and respond to biological attacks, with the ultimate goal of achieving near real-time identification and reporting for potential biological attacks.
4. Reinforce and strengthen biological nonproliferation principles, practices and instruments. Assistance includes promoting the universalization and full implementation of existing non-proliferation obligations, such as under the BTWC, the 1925 Geneva Protocol and United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1540, and ensuring the effectiveness of existing tools, such as the UN Secretary General’s mechanism, to investigate alleged uses of biological and chemical weapons.
5. Reduce proliferation risks through the advancement and promotion of safe and responsible conduct in the biological sciences. Recognizing that, while life sciences research is essential to advances that underpin improvements in the health and safety of the public, animals, and the environment, some research may provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be misused for harmful purposes. Assistance includes supporting implementation of practicable and shared approaches to advance safe and responsible conduct in the life sciences to lower these risks.
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Opening remarks at a meeting on Global health security collaboration between the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and international organizations
17 December 2012
Ambassador Jenkins, Dr Vallat, Dr Gustafson, Excellencies, ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking Ambassador Jenkins, in her role as Chair of the Global Partnership, for viewing biological security in the broader context of global health security. The two go together. It is my firm conviction that true biological security can be achieved only when more countries have the capacity to quickly detect unusual disease events.
One of the best ways to detect the unusual or the unexpected is to have good data on the normal. That is, good background data on disease patterns that are typical for a specific geographical area or season. When that kind of data is readily available, the unusual stands out and the alarm bells start to ring. Getting that data depends, of course, on stronger systems for disease surveillance and response.
I welcome the decision to extend the Global Partnership beyond 2012. The volatile nature of the microbial world warrants such a step. I also welcome the Partnership’s inclusive approach to global health security that taps expertise from multiple other sectors, including veterinary public health and agriculture.
I am pleased to share this session with the heads of OIE and FAO. Let me congratulate these two agencies on the successful eradication of rinderpest.
Implementation of the International Health Regulations is not an exclusive function of the health sector. The need to engage non-health as well as health sectors was explicitly recognized earlier this year when the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on implementation of the Regulations.
As discussions about the Regulations revealed, WHO Member States are worried about the continuing lack of capacity, in many countries, to respond to emerging and re-emerging infections.
Too many countries are not yet able to detect an unusual disease event and investigate it, find the cause, report to WHO, gear up their health systems for heightened surveillance, and marshal the appropriate equipment, supplies, and other logistical support. These weaknesses come from a lack of routine surveillance systems, a lack of laboratory capacity, a lack of resources, and a severe shortage of epidemiologists and other specialists.
One statistic tells a disturbing story. Some 85 countries, representing 65% of the world’s population, do not have reliable systems of vital registration. This means that causes of death are neither investigated nor recorded.
This is why many emerging diseases, including highly fatal ones, can smoulder undetected for weeks if not months. Outbreaks frequently become visible only after amplification of infection in a hospital or clinic leads to an explosion of cases that is too big to miss.
In other instances, new diseases, were recognized only after people fell ill and were air-evacuated for treatment to countries with sophisticated diagnostic capacity. This is what happened with the novel coronavirus. Such lapses in vigilance weaken our collective security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The future looks bright for microbes. They have certainly had a stellar year, with outbreaks of Marburg and Ebola haemorrhagic fever, epidemic cholera, hanta virus in the USA, the worst epidemic of yellow fever to hit Africa in two decades, and the emergence in the Middle East of a new SARS-like coronavirus.
Emerging and re-emerging diseases have become a much larger menace in a world of radically increased interdependence. Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of the microbial world.
These organisms are well-equipped to exploit every opportunity to infect new species, change their modes of transmission, spread to new areas and become established there, and develop resistance to antimicrobials.
Changes in the way humanity inhabits the planet have given these microscopic organisms multiple opportunities to exploit. These are changes that are extremely difficult to reverse: like population growth and overcrowding in urban slums and shantytowns, people living almost nose to nose with food animals like poultry, the industrialization of food production, phenomenal increases in international trade and travel, the misuse of antimicrobials, and incursions into previously uninhabited jungles and rainforests for work, tourism, or food.
Though much about Ebola and Marburg fevers remains cloaked in mystery, many outbreaks are associated with the consumption of bush meat by just a few people.
We have every reason to believe that the explosive recent increases in emerging and re-emerging disease will continue.
The globalization of trade has increased the flow of animals, their pathogens, and disease vectors. As recent trends show, the demand for foods of animal origin is growing as societies modernize and income levels rise.
The industrialization of food production and the globalization of its marketing have vastly complicated the investigation of foodborne diseases and increased their consequences for health and multiple national economies.
The climate is changing. Unusual weather patterns are reflected in unusual patterns in the distribution of wild animals and disease vectors. Dengue has exploited these opportunities to become the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.
The emergence of hanta virus in the USA in 1993 was linked to a long period of drought, followed by heavy rainfall, that affected populations of deer mice, bringing them into closer contact with humans.
For all of these reasons, stronger collaboration among the veterinary, public health, and agricultural sectors has become imperative as a way to gather early disease intelligence and improve our collective defenses.
OIE, FAO, and WHO have joined forces to address these needs. New networks have been established that unite the existing surveillance and early warning systems maintained by the three organizations. The emphasis is on high-impact pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. And there are many.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The threat from infectious diseases is volatile and constantly evolving. No one is predicting that this threat will subside.
WHO operates some mechanisms, like the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, or GOARN, that help compensate for weaknesses in national capacities. The International Health Regulations have provisions for requesting international assistance when domestic capacities are inadequate or overwhelmed.
But these are fail-safe measures. True global health security, and true biological security, will be achieved only when more countries have stronger systems for routinely collecting disease intelligence, detecting and investigating unusual events, sounding the alarm, and mounting a response.
The microbial world is full of surprises. It is well-equipped to defy predictions and shatter long-held assumptions.
Until the start of this century, most experts assumed that new diseases would never gain a foothold in wealthy nations. For imported diseases, good health systems and high standards of living would prevent further cases or stop transmission quickly. SARS proved otherwise. SARS spread fastest and most efficiently in sophisticated urban hospitals.
Until this year, most epidemiologists regarded Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as the breeding grounds of new pathogens and the most likely source of new diseases. The detection of a new coronavirus in three Middle-Eastern countries proved that assumption wrong.
We must never let down our guard.