Unreported: news on the United Nations system at work.


A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new laboratory at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) site in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, took place on 26 November. The new laboratory will serve as a Training and Reference Centre for Food and Pesticide Control activities, run jointly by the IAEA and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), whose Member States are to implement national legislation and trade agreements ensuring the quality and safety of food in international trade.

In the years to come, increasing global cooperation will be needed to tackle issues such as food security and quality in international trade. The new Centre will be one step in this direction by addressing concerns about the presence of pesticide residues, veterinary drugs, microbial contamination, natural toxins, heavy metals and radioactive contaminants in international food trade. Member States, especially those from the developing world, will require suitable laboratory facilities and adequately trained personnel to monitor the wide range of potential chemical and microbiological food contaminants. Moreover, the production of safe and good quality food cannot be achieved without the strict control of the quality and use of pesticides and veterinary drugs. The Centre will help strengthen the analytical capability of Member States to control food quality and safety, and implement appropriate quality assurance and control systems in national testing laboratories.

Construction of the new laboratory has started, thanks to the generous contributions from the Austrian Federal Government and the Government of Sweden, as well as significant contribution from FAO. It is expected that additional donor funds will be forthcoming to help the Centre fulfil its mission.

The need for action to stem cross-border trafficking in firearms destined for use by assassins, criminal gangs and illicit sale to civilians was high on the agenda of a United Nations European workshop, held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in September.

The workshop looked at fictionalized case studies devised by the United Nations to evoke discussion of problem-solving, in such areas as regulatory loopholes, insufficient export controls, the need for accessible data, and the benefits of regular contact with other countries' authorities dealing with firearm matters.

The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice took up the issue of civilian-owned firearms only two...

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