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Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue with participation from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States

Cover: Southeast Asia Strategic MultilateralBiosecurity Dialogue with participation from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States
Matthew Shearer, Thomas Inglesby, Anita Cicero,
Date posted:
June 28, 2021
Publication type:
Meeting report
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
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On February 10 and 11, 2021, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security hosted a virtual meeting of the Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue. Due to health risks stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as associated restrictions and protective measures implemented around the world, the dialogue meeting originally scheduled to be held in Cebu, Philippines, during 2020 was postponed. To continue the productive dialogue between the participating countries, a virtual meeting was held to specifically address challenges and lessons from the countries’ experiences with COVID-19.

The Southeast Asia Strategic Multilateral Biosecurity Dialogue began in 2014 as a bilateral Track II dialogue between Singapore and the United States and expanded the following year to include Indonesia and Malaysia. The Philippines and Thailand were added as observers in 2017 and became full participants in 2019. The purpose of this dialogue is to examine biological risks, including natural, accidental, and deliberate threats facing the United States and the Southeast Asia region. The dialogue aims to facilitate cross-border and regional engagement and collaboration, identify novel solutions to common challenges, and share best practices in combatting priority biosecurity threats.

The virtual dialogue meeting convened participants from each of the 6 participating countries, including current and former senior government officials from across relevant health and security agencies and organizations as well as subject matter experts from nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and the media. Participants represented national security and foreign affairs, public health and healthcare, homeland security/home affairs, weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation and disarmament, animal and agricultural health, journalism, and other relevant fields. The virtual dialogue was conducted in four 1-hour sessions, covering specific aspects of national COVID-19 responses as well as regional issues in Southeast Asia. Like previous meetings in this dialogue, the virtual session was conducted at an informal Track II level, as opposed to formal government-to-government engagement. Additionally, all dialogue sessions take place on a not-for-attribution basis, which allows for open and transparent discussions that facilitate a more complete understanding of each country’s capabilities and limitations.



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