GENEVA, 7th November 2016 (WAM) – The United Arab Emirates is taking part in the 8th Review Conference of the States and Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, commonly known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

The UAE’s delegation is headed by Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva. The delegation includes representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), Ministry of Defence, the General Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces, Ministry of Health and Prevention and Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

In his speech before the conference today, Mohammed Ali Shamsi, Director of International Cooperation at MoFAIC, said the UAE was keen on enhancing confidence building measures with regards to the BWC, adding that the country had recently submitted its national report.

“Being a major hub for global trade, passengers and commodities, the UAE has always been keen on keeping up with the measures required to control and monitor biological materials, in line with the national agenda of UAE Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE one of the safest countries in the world,” he said.

Based on this, the UAE set up a national committee for bio-security in 2012 and developed the national bio-security strategy 2013-2017 which meets the best possible international practices relating to development and enhancement of measures for control, preparedness and response to prevent risks and contain their negative consequences, and contribute to strengthening national security, a pillar of UAE Vision 2021,” he said.

The UAE National Strategy for Biosecurity is based on three main areas; reducing the risk of biological agents, natural or human, deliberate or unintentional; building the capacity to detect the presence of biological risks and to deal with accidents of various kinds.

The UAE enacted and updated relevant laws, legislation, plans and capabilities to ensure that bio-agents will not transform into threats and handle their negative impact in the aftermath of incidents that may affect the safety of society, policy, economy and tourism in the country.

Al Shamsi explained that a study was conducted to identify and tackle biological dangers and threats facing the UAE.

Based on its belief in the importance of stronger international co-operation, and to contribute towards building national capabilities, the UAE organised its first conference on bio-security in 2014 followed by a second in 2015, he said, adding that some 40 international organisations and national government departments participated in first conference.

He noted that organising such a conference is aimed at enhancing the UAE’s bio-security, promoting national awareness about all biological risks and dangers, exchanging knowledge between involved international organisations and institutions. These conferences, he added, is an important scientific platform for dialogue and exchange about security-related issues.

The UAE, he further stressed, is committed to facilitating the widest exchange of scientific and technological relevant equipment, materials and information as per Article 10 of the BWC.

Within this context, the UAE launched a programme to promote a healthy lifestyle and treat school students with communicable diseases in countries that are parties to the convention.

Moreover, the UAE launched awareness programmes to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent exposure to disease. One programme aims to treat 410,000 children aged between 5 and 15 years for bilharzia, intestinal worms, and tropical diseases.

Al Shamsi stressed that the UAE will back the efforts being made by all states to develop effective biosecurity measures, strengthen national capabilities, protect security in a responsible manner and promote social development in order to have a world free of biological threats.