A regional workshop on countering terrorism was held on 5-6 June 2023 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, focusing on the prevention of bioterrorism attacks involving biological agents and toxins.
The workshop was organized by the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat in partnership with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Programme on Countering Terrorist Use of Weapons and with the expert support of the OSCE Secretariat’s Forum for Security Co-operation Support Unit.
The two-day event brought together, both online and in-person, about 90 officials from the five Central Asian countries with expertise in the control of infectious viruses, bacteria and toxins.
In his opening speech John MacGregor, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, quoted the OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation, which, adopted in 1994 and updated in 2013, call on OSCE participating States “to take further steps to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to intensify co-operation on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis.”
“By pooling together leading subject matter experts from the OSCE Secretariat, as well as various UN agencies and international organizations, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat and UNCCT/UNOCT have contributed to further advancing global non-proliferation efforts,” added MacGregor.
In his video address during the opening session, UNOCT Undersecretary General, Vladimir Voronkov, noted the timeliness of this workshop on preventing bioterrorism attacks based on a number of recent concerning incidents, the latest of which was carried out in January this year in Germany, as well as the potential risk associated with the deployment of a range of agents by Violent Non-State Actors such as ISIL.
Undersecretary General concluded by emphasizing that “bioterrorism is a global threat. One of the most important lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that global issues need global solutions.”
The regional workshop aimed to raise awareness among Central Asian countries’ law enforcement, border security officials and healthcare professionals of current biological threats related to global terrorism. Special emphasis was placed on raising participants’ awareness of biological threats triggers and indicators to prevent bioterrorism attacks.
In addition, experts from the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA); the 1540 Committee of the United Nations Security Council; the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization (WCO); the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research (UNICRI), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) contributed to the regional event online and in-person. They underscored the need to implement a wide range of measures at the national and regional level to prevent bioterrorism attacks involving biological agents and toxins, as well as to further expand regional and international cooperation to comprehensively address the threat of biological terrorism.
The regional training workshop was organized within the framework of the Centre’s extrabudgetary multi-donor project “Strengthening State Border Service Capacities of Turkmenistan” and supported financially by the Government of Japan. ///OSCE Ashgabat, 6 June 2023
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