Practicing Investigations of Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons

Una Jakob participated as an observer in a UNSGM Capstone Exercise

drei Personen in Schutzanzügen untersuchen den Boden, dahinter ist Absperrband zu sehen

Photo: OPCW via flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From September 19–28, 2022, a Capstone Exercise for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investi­gation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (UNSGM) was organized in Berlin. The ten-day field exercise was hosted by the Robert Koch Institute in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarma­ment Affairs (UNODA). PRIF researcher Una Jakob participated in the exercise as an observer.

The exercise aimed at simu­lating a possible UNSGM investi­gation of alleged use of a biological weapon. This gave experts on the UNGSM roster an oppor­tunity to test their skills, should they be deployed as part of a UNSGM mission. Further, it helped to identify topics that could be added to the training program for experts on the roster. A third goal of the exercise was to test the coordination between qualified experts and other stake­holders that may be involved in a UNSGM investigation.

In her role as an observer, Una Jakob focused on procedural aspects of the mission as well as team dynamics. The objective was to evaluate the overall functioning of the mechanism. In a recent interview with the UNSGM newsletter, she gave some insights into the process and the take-aways.

The workshop was supported by the German Federal Foreign Office. In addition, financial support was provided by the Govern­ment of Canada and the European Union. Additional support for the exercise evaluation team from the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) was provided by Sweden.