The UN Group of Friends on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation: promoting the work of the EU CBRN Centers of Excellence Initiative worldwide

New York, 4 October 2016. The outcome of a recent Side-event of the UN General Assembly highlighted the strong consensus towards a common security culture based on regional and international cooperation and in the area of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risk mitigation.

The Side-event entitled “CBRN Risk Mitigation in the context of Combatting Terrorism” was organized within the framework of EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative* (EU CBRN CoE), by the UN Group of Friends of CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance* and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

The meeting gathered more than 120 delegates from permanent representations to the UN, UNICRI, UNSC 1540 Committee, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism; as well as international eminent experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (US), the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (UK), Yale University, IQBit, and SICPA from the private sector. The EU was represented by the European External Action Service and the European Commission supported by the EU Delegation in New York.

Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN; David Dondua, Deputy Foreign Ministers of Georgia; Ariel Y. Abadilla, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Philippines jointly opened the event. They were followed by the opening remarks from the EU (Bruno Dupré-EEAS and Tristan Simonart- EC) and the Director of UNICRI, Cindy J. Smith. The EU representatives both underlined the progress achieved in the structure of the CoE and outlined the progressive opening of the network to cover additional security regional priorities, in line with the new EU Global Strategy and requests from partner countries.

All speakers underlined that the evolved threats posed by CBRN materials need to be addressed in a cooperative and innovative ways. Current and likely future developments of new technologies have potentially far-reaching implications, changing the dynamic of security, security governance and CBRN risk mitigation. A panel of international experts from public, academic and private sectors, discussed the emerging threats posed by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanodrones, biological and cyber security in the age of big data and autonomous technologies. These advances will also have considerable appeal for terrorist organisations or other non-state actors who wish to exploit CBRN materials, most particularly given the potential value of autonomous systems as delivery mechanisms. Developments in this field open up a new world of CBRN threats. In this respect, three new initiatives were announced during the meeting: the opening of the Centre on Artificial Intelligence in The Hague; the establishment of a Centre (SIRIO) in Geneva to engage industry and research institutions and promote knowledge and technology solutions to address emerging security risks; and the new cooperation agreement between UNICRI and FBI on biotech.

The Side-event showcased how the best practices developed by the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative, such as regional bottom up projects, CBRN needs assessments and national action plans, can serve as a model in other areas of security governance. The national action plans for CBRN risk mitigation, which have been developed by partner countries of the initiatives, are leading to improved CBRN risk preparedness and awareness, as well as to changes in national and regional approaches and strategies. Ambassador Juan Manuel Gonzales-Linares, Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain, UNSC 1540 Committee, outlined the increasing and beneficial collaboration between the EU initiative and the 1540 activities. He was followed by high representatives from the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (CTITF), OPCW and GICNT, emphasising the benefits provided by the national action plans supported by the EU CoE and the 2016 regional table top Falcon exercise organised in the Gulf Cooperation Countries region with Morocco and Jordan.

H.E. Ambassador Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia and H.E. Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Permanent Representative of Philippines, issued concluding remarks underlying the willingness of the Group of Friends to support the CoE initiative within the UN arena. They announced that they intended to issue a joint statement on the importance of the national action plans during the 1st Committee meetings that started on 2 October. They also announced that the GoF would prepare a draft resolution for adoption during the next UNGA 2017.

Video of the event available at:

Contact point EC DG DEVCO: Tristan SIMONART – Email:

* The EU CBRN Centres of Excellence initiative Created and funded by the EU the Initiative has established a framework for cooperation and coordination across all levels of government and amongst international partners, such as IAEA, OPCW, BWC ISU, 1540 Committee, WHO and other relevant actors. The Initiative facilitates regional cooperation to enhance CBRN capabilities and currently involves 55 countries in 8 regions of the world, namely: the African Atlantic Façade; Central Asia; Eastern and Central Africa; the Gulf Cooperation Countries; the Middle East; North Africa and Sahel; South East Asia; and South East and Eastern Europe.

** The UN Group of Friends of CBRN and Security Governance The UN Group of Friends of CBRN The UN Group of Friends of CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance was established by the Governments of Georgia, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of the Philippines with aim to address CBRN related topics at the United Nations. The Group includes today 14 member countries and is a consultation and dialogue forum aimed at integrating the CBRN component in the international security architecture, sensitizing states on the importance of mitigating CBRN risks, and foster regional cooperation on CBRN challenges.

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