Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, 19 April 2018.
Funded by the European Union
Kigali Convention Centre, Kigali, Republic of Rwanda
19-21 April 2018
Within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centres of Excellence (EU CBRN CoE) initiative, a round table meeting for the Eastern and Central Africa National Focal Points took place in Kigali from 19-21 April. The round-table meeting was organized by the Regional Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East Africa Community; and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Rwanda, with close support from the EU Delegation to Rwanda and the United Nations Office in Rwanda. The round-table discussion was followed by a meeting of regional experts on chemical waste management.
Mr Joseph Maina, the Head of Eastern and Central Africa CoE Secretariat stated “The tenth round-table meeting for the CBRN ECA region is a significant milestone for the region. In the recent past, three partner countries benefitted from provision of specialized equipment and related training to enhance CBRN preparedness and response capabilities under CoE Project 50; recipient partner countries being the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Uganda with Burundi on the waiting list”. He added that another project, Project 42, on Chemical Safety and Security was also undertaken where desirable deliverables included strengthening national and regional capacities with respect to prevention of; preparedness for; and response to; CBRN incidents and accidents.
“The presence of representatives from various Ministries of partner countries is a witness to the fact that their governments are committed to making progress in strengthening prevention, mitigation and response to CBRN risks” said Amb. Nicola Bellomo, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Rwanda. He further noted that the African continent hosts three regional Centre of Excellence Secretariats, bringing together a total of 28 partner countries, which is almost half of all countries participating in this initiative worldwide. Amb. Bellomo expressed hope that the Government of Rwanda, which is pushing forward a very ambitious reform agenda, including the elaboration of main elements for the European Union – African Union partnership after 2020, could bring on board the issue of CBRN risk mitigation and have it recognized specifically as one area of the AU-EU relations.
As the EU CBRN CoE Initiative seeks to boost cooperation at the national, regional and international levels, it is important to identify and recognize new global challenges, such as cyber threats, terrorism, and ever-evolving technology, that should be considered in the CBRN risk mitigation too. Furthermore, CBRN risk mitigation is connected to maritime security, protection of critical infrastructure, border control, export control and much more.
”The CoE Initiative puts in place a framework for cooperation and coordination across all levels of government and among international partners, such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (BWC ISU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the 1540 Committee, the Word Health Organization and others”, stated Dr. Fodé Ndiaye, the UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda. He praised the efforts of the countries in undertaking needs assessment which enables better informed and focused regional collaboration in CBRN risk mitigation. In particular, Dr. Ndiaye commended the active role of the Republic of Rwanda, the host of the regional meeting, which had in the short time period conducted its CBRN country-wide mapping, and has set the grounds for its National Action Plan.
“The Government of Rwanda as a member of East and Central Africa CBRN Centre of Excellence is committed to work with all countries to address the potential threats that may be caused by CBRN materials”, said Dr Vincent Biruta, the Minister of Environment. The Minister welcomed the participants to Kigali and expressed his conviction that awareness raising and knowledge of existing as well as anticipation of future CBRN risks and threats, will allow the Eastern and Central Africa region to implement strategies that can contribute to national, regional and international peace and stability.
The event in Kigali gathered together representatives and experts from ten out of eleven partner countries in the region, namely the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Representatives from the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG-DEVCO), the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union Delegation to Rwanda, the United Nations Office in Rwanda, UNICRI, AESA On-Site Technical Assistance (OSA), and implementing agencies of CoE Projects on nuclear security and combatting falsified medicines, attended the event.
The meeting was an opportunity for the National Focal Points and experts from the region to share their experiences and inform about the progress in national and regional activities related to CBRN risk mitigation. The participants also set out a regional vision by providing their inputs for the drafting of a regional strategy.
In-depth discussions on the challenges associated to chemical waste management were led by experts from a variety of institutions in the region, such as biomedical centre, energy commission, environmental protection and managements agencies, chemist department, ministries of agriculture, defence, environment, foreign affairs, health, science and technology, police service, national institute of medical research, national security council secretariat, office of control, risk/disaster management agencies, and technical universities. Prior to the event the Secretariat’s On-Site Technical Assistant gathered feedback from partner countries on the status of chemical waste management in their countries. The discussion, which aimed at the designing and future implementation of a regional project, was moderated by the expert from the EC Joint Research Centre. The willingness of the partner countries to openly share their experiences in this area greatly helped identify the waste sources and the gaps and weaknesses in this area. The information also serves to shape the resulting Chemical Waste Management project in a much more targeted way and even possibly help shape Chemical Waste Management Policies which are currently being drafted in some of the partner countries.
Mr. Claude Nikobisanzwe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East Africa Community, commended the partnership between the Government of Rwanda, the United Nations and the European Union in creating awareness, sensitizing, and building human and institutional capacities to mitigate CBRN hazards and ensure security.
The Permanent Secretary concluded saying: “I hope this international partnership, particularly with Africa will continue to grow, and will certainly contribute to sustainable peace and security.”
The EU CBRN CoE Initiative is funded by the European Commission and implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC). The European External Action Service is also involved in the follow-up of the initiative. The initiative is developed with the technical support of relevant international and regional organisations, the EU Member States and other stakeholders, through coherent and effective cooperation at the national, regional and international level. The initiative involves 60 countries in 8 regions of the world
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