SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Investigating alleged use of chemical and biological weapons

Alexander Ghionis served as Rapporteur at the fifth United Nations Secretary‐General’s Mechanism (UNSGM) Designated Laboratories workshop in Spiez, Switzerland, on 12-13 September 2019. The meeting, which was hosted by Spiez Laboratory, brought together experts from laboratories, policy making, and other relevant government offices to address a number of questions related to the UNSGM Designated Laboratories network

Designated laboratories play a crucial role in a UNSGM investigation. In the case of an investigation for the presence of chemical and biological agents, the UNSGM Designated Laboratories are tasked with analysing samples and reporting their findings to the Secretary-General. The workshop focused on the following themes:

  • Review of past and outlook to future laboratory exercises, lessons learned, recommendations, including the enhancement of quality assurance, increasing the number of participating laboratories and broadening geographical representation;
  • Laboratory support and assistance: required capabilities of a UNSGM Designated Laboratory to support and assist a mission team, while respecting the mandate and confidentiality
  • Interfaces to laboratories: guidance for sampling from a laboratory perspective, and the role and function of expert consultants with regard to UNSGM Designated Laboratories;
  • Laboratory reporting: guidance for UNSGM Designated Laboratories in reporting sample analyses results

Alexander Ghionis is a Doctoral Researcher at SPRU, based in the Harvard Sussex Programme (HSP). HSP is an inter-university collaboration for research, communication and training in support of informed public policy towards chemical and biological weapons. As part of its work, HSP actively seeks to support and maintain national and international frameworks for discourse, study and consensus-building that bring together scientists and other scholars with officials of governmental and intergovernmental bodies. Alexander’s research focuses on change and continuity in the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the evolving challenges facing global disarmament architecture

A summary report of the workshop will be made available later this year.

Further information:

Read the previous four UNSGM Designated Laboratories workshop reports

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