International Bioterrorism Tabletop Exercise
In September 2009, senior law enforcement officials, health care professionals and experts from international organizations joined their forces to confront a chilling crisis – the plague had just been unleashed on their countries by unknown evildoers.
A fictional scenario with a serious aim
Fortunately, this terrifying situation was a scenario under control, and the civilian authorities were all participants in a Tabletop Exercise on Preventing Bioterrorism hosted by INTERPOL. This exercise simulated a global bioterrorism attack and its aftermath. Participants in the Black Death scenario were faced with a fictional, intentional plague attack involving countries from their region, with the exercise designed to assist them in identifying critical co-operation and co-ordination issues which could hinder a quick and successful response to such an attack in real life.
The idea behind this exercise, the third in a series organized by INTERPOL, has been described by the Organization's Secretary General, Ronald K. Noble, as “helping focus our joint understanding of the role and responsibility of each of us – police, health care professionals, experts – in response to a bioterrorism incident, as well as identifying possible gaps or redundancies so that we can draw lessons from them.”
Inter-agency co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe
Organized by the INTERPOL Bioterrorism Unit, this third edition of the event took place from 29-30 September in Warsaw, Poland. Participants in the workshop numbered 27 from six Central and Eastern European countries (Belarus, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine), as well as 15 participants from international organizations such as Europol, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Control, the European Commission (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs and Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
A wide range of INTERPOL initiatives
The tabletop exercise is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by INTERPOL since the creation of its Bioterrorism Prevention programme. INTERPOL has worked ceaselessly since 2005 to heighten its member countries’ awareness of the dangers of bioterrorism and to enhance their preparedness for a bioterrorist attack. The Bioterrorism Prevention Programme has co-ordinated a series of events, starting with the Global Conference on Preventing Bioterrorism in March 2005; regional workshops in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia; train-the-trainer sessions all over the world; and practical tabletop exercises such as the one outlined above.