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Digital Address: GA-107-3073

Honorable Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for MESTI, Addresses Crucial Biological Weapons Convention Workshop

Accra, September 13, 2023

Honorable Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), extended a warm welcome to esteemed guests, delegates, and experts gathered at the National Legislative Review Workshop for the Biological Weapons Convention, held at the Kempinski Hotel on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023.

In his opening remarks, Minister Dr. Kwaku Afriyie underscored the significance of reconvening this essential Working Group, emphasizing the urgent need to reinvigorate the implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) in Ghana. The workshop provides a unique opportunity to modernize the convention in response to evolving biosecurity risks and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Afriyie emphasized the importance of establishing an appropriate legal framework to operationalize the BWC within Ghana. He reiterated Ghana’s commitment to the BWC, underscoring the country’s adherence to Article IV of the Convention. This article obliges State Parties to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, or retention of biological agents, toxins, weapons, equipment, and means of delivery as detailed in Article I.

Ghana, as a dedicated State Party to the BWC, is actively working to incorporate the Convention into its local laws, mirroring the efforts being made with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Minister Afriyie acknowledged the cooperation and support received from international bodies such as the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in this endeavor.

Minister Afriyie also highlighted Ghana’s comprehensive biosafety framework, including the Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831), which established the National Biosafety Authority (NBA). While Act 831 effectively addressed biosafety concerns, it also revealed gaps related to biosecurity and bioterrorism. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Bill aims to bridge these legislative gaps while harmonizing provisions pertaining to biological and toxin weapons.

In his closing remarks, Minister Afriyie expressed confidence in the collaboration among various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and the guidance provided by UNODA facilitators. He stressed that this workshop would effectively address the growing risks associated with the spread of new pathogens and infectious diseases, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister warmly welcomed all participants to this critical workshop and extended a heartfelt “AKWAABA” to international visitors. He concluded by inviting all attendees to embrace the discussions and enjoy their stay in Ghana.

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