Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction
Global Partnership Biological Security Deliverables
When establishing the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction at the 2002 Kananaskis Summit, Leaders recognized the risks associated with biological weapons and highlighted the importance of cooperative solutions to address deliberate biological threats. Consistent with the Kananaskis Principles and Guidelines, Global Partnership (GP) members subsequently identified biological security as an area of primary focus (2010), confirmed it to be a formal programming priority (2011) and agreed five common “Deliverables” to guide collective efforts to combat biological terrorism and proliferation around the world (2012). The Biological Security Deliverables encourage common and coordinated action by GP members and mutually reinforcing, complementary and multisectoral cooperation to mitigate a broad spectrum of biological threats; they are not intended to be exhaustive or prescriptive. The Deliverables are pursued by GP members against the backdrop of international norms, in particular the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the 1925 Geneva Protocol and United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540, and in cooperation with relevant external partners and international organizations, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BTWC ISU), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
GP members recognise the evolving and unpredictable nature of biological threats and therefore are committed to reviewing progress against the Deliverables regularly, to updating the Deliverables as required and to undertaking a comprehensive assessment every five years, taking into account support voluntarily provided by GP members to countries and international organizations for implementing these activities in accordance with the Kananaskis Principles and Guidelines. In 2018, GP members agreed on the following Deliverables and priorities:
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 implement effective, appropriate and sustainable biological security/biosafety/biorisk management and oversight measures.
2. Develop and maintain appropriate and effective measures to prevent, prepare for, detect and disrupt the deliberate misuse of biological agents:
Full and effective implementation of international health regulations, as well as national and international biosafety and biosecurity regulations and other relevant standards and guidelines, contribute to preventing, preparing for, detecting and disrupting the deliberate misuse of biological agents. Assistance includes building and strengthening sustainable capacities (e.g. national, regional and international), taking into account multisectoral approaches and efforts through relevant multilateral initiatives or fora.
3. Strengthen national and international capabilities to rapidly identify, confirm/assess and respond to biological attacks:
Assistance includes supporting the identification and implementation of shared approaches for deploying and strengthening coherent national and international bio surveillance, information systems, networks and capabilities to better detect, identify, confirm, and respond to biological attacks. Priority is placed on coordination of efforts, multisectoral engagement and enabling rapid identification, reporting and effective response to biological attacks.
4. Reinforce and strengthen the BTWC and other biological disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, principles, practices and instruments:
Assistance includes promoting the universalization and full implementation of the BTWC and strengthening its institutions, as well as strengthening cooperation at the health-security interface (including with and between international organisations). Priority is given to: building and sustaining the operational effectiveness of the UN Secretary General’s Mechanism to investigate alleged uses of biological and chemical weapons; strengthening and supporting the implementation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and UNSCR 1540; and improving export and transhipment controls, including over items on the Australia Group’s common control list.
5. Reduce biological proliferation risks through the advancement and promotion of safe and responsible conduct:
Recognizing that while life sciences research is essential to advances that underpin improvements in the health and safety, inter alia, of the public, animals, plants and the environment, some research may provide knowledge, information, materials, products, or technologies that could be misused for harmful purposes. To mitigate these risks, GP assistance includes supporting implementation of practicable and shared approaches, including appropriate oversight arrangements, to promote safe and responsible conduct in the life sciences and other related disciplines.
An indicative list of programming that may be pursued in support of these Deliverables is attached at Annex.
Indicative List of Programming Activities in Support of
the Global Partnership Biological Security Deliverables
The unprecedented pace of global scientific development, the dual-use nature of biological materials and technologies and the risk of terrorist groups and/or states of proliferation concern launching biological attacks contribute to the significant international security threats posed by biological weapons (BW) and biological terrorism.
Highly dangerous biological agents pose unique threats to global security given their naturally-occurring and self-replicating character. The highly infectious nature of many biological agents means that only a small quantity of a pathogen could be sufficient to develop a robust biological weapons capacity, and that one incident could potentially cause a major disease outbreak or global pandemic. The dual-use nature of biological agents and the difficulties associated with determining if pathogens have been removed from laboratory facilities make it extremely difficult to prevent the concealment and potential theft of biological materials which could then be used for malicious purposes. Compounding the challenge, terrorist groups have previously sought and/or remain focused on acquiring biological weapons capabilities. The probability of terrorists acquiring biological materials is heightened given that some of the most dangerous pathogens (e.g. anthrax, plague, and Ebola) are endemic to regions with limited capacities, and that many biological facilities in these regions lack the necessary resources to implement effective biological security and biological safety measures.
While there are no quick fixes or easy solutions to address biological threats, there are concrete steps that can be taken to reduce the risks associated with dangerous biological materials. Under the framework of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, partners have agreed five common “Deliverables” to guide collective efforts to combat biological terrorism and proliferation around the world. In implementing the Deliverables, GP members may engage and seek synergies with other voluntary initiatives, such as the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), in particular its Action Package “Prevent 3” on biosafety and biosecurity. Specific initiatives to be pursued under these Deliverables could include, but are not limited to:
1 ) Secure and account for materials that represent biological proliferation risks
Personnel & Training
2) Develop and maintain appropriate and effective measures to prevent, prepare for, detect and disrupt the deliberate misuse of biological agents
3) Strengthen national and international capabilities to rapidly identify, confirm/assess and respond to biological attacks
Surveillance and Reporting
Lab Capacity and Characterization
4) Reinforce and strengthen the BTWC and other biological disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, principles, practices and instruments
Strengthening the BTWC
Universality & Implementation
5) Reduce proliferation risks through the advancement and promotion of safe and responsible conduct in biological sciences
Materials & Tools