Report calls for greater U.N. cooperation to fight bioterror

The Working Group on Preventing and Responding to Weapons of Mass Destruction Attacks, a division of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, has released a report to familiarize U.N. member states with mechanisms of the group.
The report puts the mechanisms in the context of preparedness for, prevention of and response to terrorist attacks using biological or chemical weapons and materials. In addition, the report, the second put forward by the Working Group, identifies opportunities for strengthening coordination, prevention and incident response with regard to such attacks.
The report said that while areas of nuclear and radiological terrorism have easily identifiable lead agencies, there are many different U.N. and other international agencies with partial mandates and responsibilities when it comes to the prevention and response of biological or chemical attacks.
"There is, however, no single lead agency that bears overall responsibility for the response to these threats at the international level," the report says. "Instead, there is an array of inter-locking responsibilities. Activities of UN and other international entities address specific aspects of the threat of chemical or biological terrorism (some in a technically specialized manner, others in a broader chemical, bio­logical, radiological and nuclear context) but no one agency can claim overall responsibility for either chemical or biological terrorism preparedness and response."
The 10 key findings of the report focus on the coordination of the concerned entities. The recommendations include the U.N. and other international agencies providing technical assistance to the states in preparing for bioterrorism, developing and enhancing preparedness against such terrorism in a broader context, and enhancing coordination and information sharing between organizations and entities that provide legal assistance with regard to adopting policies relevant to countering chemical and biological terrorism.
Other recommendations include developing technical assistance programs, more effectively coordinating relief efforts and training against terrorism, improving the response to early warning and detection systems along with coordination between organizations with mandates to investigate use of these weapons, giving more attention to the recovery phase of chemical or biological agent release and better preparing and coordinating the management of public information in crisis situations caused by biological and chemical terrorism.