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United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism (UNSGM)

Shortly before the end of the conflict between Iran and Iraq, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 1987 that established the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (UNSGM). This mechanism serves as a verification instrument of the Geneva Protocol for investigating alleged uses of chemical and biological weapons.

In the framework of the UNSGM, two lists are compiled: one with experts and one with laboratories that can be supported by the UN member states. Spiez Laboratory is on one hand nominated as a designated analytical laboratory and on the other hand provides experts for a mission team in benefit of the UNSGM. By offering its good offices, Switzerland contributes to the readiness for an assignment on behalf of the UNSGM – as in the case of analytical laboratory tests relating to the UN mission in Syria of August 2013, for example. For their fact-finding mission in Syria, the UN relied on the laboratory network of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The OPCW’s designated laboratories – including Spiez Laboratory – are internationally accredited and subjected to stringent quality tests every year. Since the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997, these laboratories have validated their analytical procedures and precisely laid down the criteria for reporting the results. Based on these strict and undisputed quality controls, the results of the UN fact-finding mission in Syria were accepted without any reservations, both politically and scientifically.

While there are strict quality standards in the field of chemical weapons, there are no corresponding controls in the biological field. In the case of a UN mission investigating the alleged use of biological weapons, lab analyses might therefore more easily be questioned or even rejected. This is why Spiez Laboratory is committed to establishing corresponding quality assurance and reporting requirements for biological laboratories, so that future UN fact-finding missions relating to biological weapons can also be accepted both politically and scientifically without any reservations.

Apart from the establishment of standards in quality control, continuous advancement of analytical methodology is an important pillar. The developed methods are exchanged between laboratories to further international capacity building in detection of agents.

Spiez Laboratory supports these efforts with the organization of a workshop series for designated laboratories of the UNSGM.

Spiez Laboratory Austrasse
CH-3700 Spiez
+41 58 468 14 00


Spiez Laboratory

CH-3700 Spiez