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Considering potential lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic to strengthen the BTWC (Part 1 – virtual)

17 May 2021

This expert seminar aims to consider and determine the key issues highlighted by the pandemic that could be relevant to the disarmament and non-proliferation scope of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). The purpose is to explore the lessons that can be learned from this international public health crisis, and the response, that could have an impact on the Convention and help strengthen its implementation. The seminar will thus contribute to put into perspective questions that notably relate to national implementation and challenges to biosecurity stemming from advances in life sciences. Considering the scope of the Convention as well as the importance of developing interactions with other existing instruments, organisations and mechanisms, while respecting their respective mandates and avoiding duplication, it will also provide an opportunity to reconsider the reflections pertaining to the implementation of Article VII on emergency assistance in case of a violation of the Convention, and of Article X on cooperation and assistance.

Monday, 17 May 2021

10:00 – 10:15 Introduction and Welcoming Remarks

  • Elisande Nexon (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, France)
  • Mauri Pasanen (Disarmament, non-proliferation and arms export control, EEAS)

10:15 – 11:30 Session 1: Exploring the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with regard to the implementation of the BTWC

Chair: Una Jakob (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Germany)


  • James Revill (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Switzerland) – Current and future main challenges and perspectives for the BWC stemming from the pandemic
  • Filippa Lentzos (Kings College London, United Kingdom) – Global health, research and dual use dilemma in the Covid-19 perspective
  • Gunnar Jeremias (Hamburg University, Germany) – Potential impact of the pandemic on the BWC national implementation
  • Tatyana Novossiolova (Centre for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria) – Cross-sectorial awareness raising and education challenges and perspectives in life sciences


11:30 – 11:45 Break

11:45 – 13:00 Session 2: Revisiting the prospects of cooperation for peaceful purposes and emergency assistance through the potential lessons of the pandemic

Chair: Elisande Nexon (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, France)


  • Jean Pascal Zanders (The Trench / FRS, France) – Exploring the issue of emergency assistance in the framework of the BWC (reconsidering the reflections carried out until the pandemic)
  • Alessandro Marcello (International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Italy) – Promoting capacity building through cooperation and assistance, the example of the ICGEB
  • Anne-Sophie Lequarré (Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, stability and Peace, European Commission) – The contribution of EU CBRN Centres of Excellence to the COVID-19 response
  • Antoine Flahault (Institute of Global Health, Switzerland) – Strengthening preparedness and response to international biological public health emergencies


13h00 Conclusion

  • Daniel Feakes (BTWC Implementation Support Unit, UNODA, Geneva Branch)


17 May 2021
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