Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction
Newsletter Issue No. 5, September 2021
Twenty years ago this month – on 11 September 2001 – terrorists unleashed a series of devastating attacks in the United States. Using passenger planes as instruments of mass destruction, the 9/11 hijackers claimed nearly 3,000 lives in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. The tragic events of that day were the stimulus for the establishment of the Global Partnership (GP) at the Kananaskis Summit (2002), where Leaders recognized that “terrorists are prepared to use any means to cause terror and inflict appalling casualties on innocent people” and committed “to prevent terrorists, or those that harbour them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons; missiles; and related materials, equipment and technology”.
Twenty months ago, in January 2020, a deadly coronavirus previously unknown to science began to circulate. Today the world continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 4.5 million, sickened some 220 million and caused incalculable economic, human and societal tolls. The current pandemic has offered insight into how a deliberate biological event might unfold, and has underscored the ongoing imperative for Global Partnership efforts to prevent the proliferation and use of chemical, biological, radiological an nuclear (CBRN) weapons and related materials. To this end, the GP has launched an ambitious new Signature Initiative to Mitigate Biological Threats in Africa. Read on to learn more about the Signature Initiative and other tangible WMD threat reduction efforts being implemented by GP partners to make the world a safer place.
GP Signature Initiative to Mitigate Deliberate Biological Threats in Africa
The Global Partnership has launched a Signature Initiative to Mitigate Deliberate Biological Threats in Africa. The aim of the initiative, which is being developed and implemented in the closest collaboration with African partners, is to reduce bio-threats through the aligned activities of GP and African countries working towards the same goals. The GP agreed that this type of collective effort (which was highly successful in other fields during the GP’s first decade) is important as the scope and diversity of biological threats exceeds the ability of any one country to counter them. The Signature Initiative is guided by the GP’s Biosecurity Deliverablesand care has been taken to reflect relevant aspects of the G7’sBeyond Ebola Agenda (2015) and priorities of African partners, including the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Through this process, four inter-connected pillars for action have been identified: i) biosafety and biosecurity; ii) national frameworks; iii) surveillance and epidemic intelligence; and iv) non-proliferation.
Further information on the Signature Initiative to Mitigate Biological Threats in Africa can be found in therecent GP statement, delivered by the United Kingdom, to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) Meeting of Experts.
Statement on Gender Equality by the United Kingdom, following June 2021 GP Working Group Plenary
"The Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP) affirmed its commitment to gender equality and to supporting global efforts to non-proliferation. The GP recognised the importance of gender equality in the creation and delivery of non-proliferation programmatic activities and receipt of related support/outcomes.”
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), a contributor to the Global Partnership since 2010 has long held biosecurity at the core of its work. In this feature article, learn more about biosecurity in the animal health world, as well as the OIE’s work as it relates to ASF, a highly contagious deadly haemorrhagic viral disease causing nearly 100% mortality in pigs, where a recent outbreak has been reported in the Dominican Republic.
INTERPOL's Bioterrorism Prevention Unit (BTPU) supports law enforcement efforts in preventing, preparing for and responding to biological incidents. This feature article, outlines the important activities of the BTPU, including the specific support provided at the onset of COVID-19, ongoing programming initiatives, and global intelligence and data-sharing on biological threats.
GP partners continue to be at the forefront of efforts to uphold and defend the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Recently the European Union contributed €2.1Mto support the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to invest in secure digital information and communication infrastructure while France contributed €500,000 to a special OPCW Trust Fund for Security and Business Continuity, to support the OPCW’s cybersecurity resilience.
INTERPOL will hold their Third Webinar Series on Cyber Threats and Cybersecurity, including a session on September 20, 2021 on Framing the Threat: Cyber Threats in the Chemical Security Area. A second session will be held on October 4, 2021 on Effective Cybersecurity Prevention and Response. Registration for this second session will open on September 21, 2021.
The 23rdInternational Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Conference (CWD 2021) will be held as a virtual event from November 2 to 4, 2021. Organized by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, the CWD 2021 aims to promote cooperation and collaborative working to achieve a future free from chemical weapons. Registration for the CWD 2021 closes October 29, 2021.
The Global Partnership is pleased to recognize two important papers on CBRN and biological security:
"Effective and Comprehensive CBRN Security Risk Management in the 21st Century" was developed jointly by Prof. Maurizio Martellini and Tatyana Novossiolova for the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium Paper Series. The paper examines practical ways for integrating the goals of weapons (and materials) of mass destruction (WMD) disarmament and non-proliferation with the goals of promoting health and sustainable development, in order to prevent and counter the hostile misuse of CBRN materials and related information.
As noted above, the new Signature Initiative to Mitigate Biological Threats in Africa builds on a tradition of collective GP action to mitigate shared threats. One of the most notable examples of GP partners working together was the construction of the Shchuch’ye chemical weapons destruction facility in Russia (2002-2009).
Because of the scale and costs of constructing this facility, which would ultimately destroy 5,440 tonnes of nerve agent stored in more than 1.9 million munitions, 13 GP partner countries contributed financially to the effort. While the United States managed its own contribution of more than $1 billion, 11 other GP partners (Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, the EU, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden) provided their funding to the United Kingdom, which delivered and managed projects on their behalf. In all, partners provided more than £76 million through the UK program, in addition to the UK’s own contribution of £24 million, with individual contributions ranging from £80,000 to more than £51 million.
This “piggybacking” method proved a highly effective means to deliver coordinated, impactful and efficient threat reduction programming, and serves as a potential model for future coordinated GP efforts.
The Global Partnership community supports the development of tools and otherresourcesrelated to threat mitigation. Recent additions include:
The International Experts Group of Biosafety and Biosecurity Regulators (IEGBBR) published the8th Biennial Meeting Report,highlighting the challenges encountered with regulatory biosafety and biosecurity oversight during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With support from Canada's Weapons Threat Reduction Program, the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) published a Munitions Typology identifying chemical weapons munitions deployed in the Syrian war.