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COMSTECH international workshop on biosafety kicks off

Islamabad, 4 December, 2023 (GNP): An International Workshop on Biosafety and Biosecurity, titled “Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Biosafety and Biosecurity Regimes for a Secure Future”, jointly organized by the Government of Kazakhstan and COMSTECH, was inaugurated at the COMSTECH Secretariat on 3rd December.

COMSTECH is the OIC Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation and is hosted by Pakistan.

The workshop brings together a large number of experts from Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan to discuss the challenges to human security emanating from developments in the biological sciences and from naturally occurring global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The experts will also deliberate on the existing policy instruments and protocols for ensuring biosecurity such as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the BTWC, and their limitations and hurdles for full implementation.

In particular, the workshop will examine a proposal initiated by the President of Kazakhstan at the United Nations in 2020 for the establishment of an International agency for Biological Safety (IABS) and suggest ways and means for its practical implementation under the existing agreements.

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The inaugural session was addressed by Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, the Coordinator General of COMSTECH; the Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Mr. Yerzhan Kistafin; the representative of the OIC General Secretariat, Mr. Arman Tynybek; Prof. Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari, Chair of Workshop Technical Committee, and Prof. Dr. S. Khurshid Hasanain, Focal Person of the Workshop.

The speakers highlighted the urgent and timely nature of the Kazakhstan initiative in the wake of emerging threats to biosecurity and biosafety, and detailed the background of the Workshop and the continuing cooperation between COMSTECH and Kazakhstan in various fields of science and Technology.

The remaining days will be devoted to three technical sessions where the country experts will share their experiences and observations on the steps required to enhance biosafety and biosecurity and examination of the various existing treaties and conventions in this domain. The Workshop will conclude on 4th December and the Outcome Document of the Workshop will be shared with the OIC for its consideration and follow-up actions.