U.N. briefs member states on CoE initiative

The United Nations briefed member states, civil society, and international and regional organizations on the Centers of Excellence initiative on Friday, an effort to mitigate the risks connected to CBRN material.

The eight centers, located in the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Georgia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Kenya, are meant to create a safer culture around chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear issues by allowing countries to develop policies at multiple levels and to respond to natural, accidental or criminal disasters.

Four technical experts spoke on the initiative, including Francesco Marelli, the program manager of the CBRN department of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, Bruno Dupré, the policy coordinator on CBRN issues for the European Union Diplomatic Service, Ioannis Vrailas, the minister counselor and deputy head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, and Jonathan Lucas, the director of the UNICRI.

Vrailas said that the key to the initiative's success was focusing on the mobilization of local communities to exchange best practices and information.

Marelli said that the eight centers would act as focal points in a growing network of partner countries of over 60 nations to share risk.

Dupré said that communities were unified by increasing trust between important security enforcers for each nation.

"We're in the mode of trying to build confidence and trust among different communities, so they'll know how to work together," Dupré said.

The experts said that the centers were not concentrating on helping countries to deal with the proliferation of CBRN weapons because there are already international instruments to deal with those issues. The initiative is meant to help communities respond more quickly to CBRN incidents using the network of the centers.