‍‍‍Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction

Copyright 2017 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction

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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.

 

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

Facilities:

  • Enhance the security of laboratory facilities that work on or store high consequence pathogens through upgrades and/or new construction.

  • Develop best practices and effective, coordinated approaches to address the challenge of sustainable biosafety and biosecurity in low-resource environments, including in assessing needs and proposing appropriate solutions in areas such as facility design, operation, and maintenance.  

  • Perform qualitative and quantitative biological threat and vulnerability assessments.

Personnel & Training

  • Provide or support training in biosecurity, biosafety and physical security.o   Strengthen personnel reliability programs for those with access to dangerous biological agents.

  • Support the development and implementation of biosecurity guidelines, standards and best practices.

Materials

  • Support efforts to reduce and/or consolidate holdings of dangerous pathogens.

  • Strengthen capacity to account for and control biological agents (e.g. improved inventory and tracking systems).

  • Enhance compliance with Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) requirements to ensure safety and security of biological agents during transport.

2)   Develop and maintain appropriate and effective measures to prevent, prepare for, detect and disrupt the deliberate misuse of biological agents

Tools

  • Support the development and implementation of biosafety and biocontainment guidelines and standards, legislation and best practices.
  • Strengthen national and regional epidemiological surveillance systems.
  • Support the development, assessment and deployment of new tools and mechanisms for early warning and surveillance systems.

Mechanisms

  • Strengthen laboratory capacity to detect and respond to deliberate outbreaks, including through the international Laboratory Twinning Initiative (WHO) or the Laboratory Twinning Program (OIE)
  • Develo‍‍‍p multi-sectoral cooperation, including public health and law enforcement, to ensure routine and effective coordination of policies and capabilities.

Capacity Building

  • Strengthen foundational indicator and event-based surveillance systems that are able to detect biological events, including those of suspected or confirmed deliberate origin.
  • Assist with the implementation of biological risk management systems.
  • Provide or support biosafety and biocontainment training and simulation exercises for laboratory specialists, including field epidemiology training programs (FETPs).

3)   Strengthen national and international capabilities to rapidly identify, confirm/assess and respond to biological attacks

Surveillance and Reporting

  • Support the gathering of epidemic intelligence, including through the development and application of big-data analytical systems.

Lab Capacity and Characterization

  • ‍‍Strengthen laboratory containment capacity and infrastructure to handle dangerous biological agents and to rapidly and safely confirm/assess samples. 

Response

  • Enhance capacities to conduct rapid, multi-sectoral response in the event of a biological event of suspected or confirmed deliberate origin, including the capacity to link public health and law enforcement, to provide and/or request effective and timely international assistance (including to investigate alleged use events) and to conduct rapid risk assessments and needs evaluations.
  • Strengthen capabilities of relevant international organisations to respond to the deliberate use of disease, including those of INTERPOL, FAO, OIE and WHO.
  • Training and provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, medical countermeasures and diagnostic/detective tools to front-line health care workers, first responders and law enforcement


4)   Reinforce and strengthen the BTWC and other biological disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, principles,            practices and instruments

Strengthening the BTWC

  • Support for the BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU).
  • Strengthen the functioning and results of the BTWC Intersessional Process through technical or financial support for voluntary transparency initiatives, contributions to the BTWC Sponsorship Fund, or other activities tied to the agreed BTWC Program of Work.

Universality & Implementation

  • Encourage and support the universalization and full implementation of the BTWC and other biological disarmament and non-proliferation instruments.
  • Assistance to States to draft, adopt and implement appropriate and effective national legislation and to fulfill other Convention or Resolution-based national commitments (e.g. annual submission of Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs)).
  • Support to states and collaboration with the Australia Group (AG) to improve export and transhipment controls over items on the AG’s common control list

Mechanisms

  • Strengthen global mechanisms and capabilities to respond to the deliberate use of disease, including through support for the strategy and action plan to build an improved operational capability for the UN Secretary General’s Mechanism (UNSGM) to launch promptly, conduct efficiently and report accurately an investigation of alleged use of biological weapons.

5)   Reduce proliferation risks through the advancement and promotion of safe and responsible conduct in biological sciences

Materials & Tools

  • Develop relevant training and educational materials (and then periodically review and update to ensure continued relevance).
  • Translate and promulgate such materials, both nationally and internationally, via competent ministries (e.g. ministries of education and/or research), universities, professional bodies, industry, S&T, academic bodies and biosecurity/biosafety associations.
  • Develop and promote codes of conduct for those working in the biological sciences.

Training

  • Delivery of biosecurity training, training-of-trainer-concepts and education, including as a component of training in support of the other Deliverables.
  • Address Dual Use Research of Concern, and manage the associated risks, including through appropriate oversight arrangements.

Mechanisms

  • Encourage and foster the development and maturation of biosafety associations as a forum for the exchange of bioethics norms.
  • Support to international, regional and national Biosafety Associations, with a view to incorporating biosecurity alongside biosafety.