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Prosecution and Adjudication of CBRN Crimes

Successfully prosecuting a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) crime, such as the deliberate acquisition, stockpiling, production, transfer, or use/misuse of CBRN material, is a uniquely challenging process. After identifying the need to advance guidance in this area, UNICRI, in close cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), published A Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes in 2022. Following on from this success, A Prosecutor’s Guide to Radiological and Nuclear Crimes is being launched in 2023 in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the IAP and the Joint Research Centre in Karlsruhe.

These guidance manuals have been generously funded by the European Commission within the framework of the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative. They are non-binding, high-level documents which examine key elements associated with the deliberate use of CBRN agents and the impact of these elements on the prosecutorial process. Since their creation, the Guides have paved the way for additional phases, including training courses and practical exercises for prosecutors, police and relevant investigative and judicial agencies.


Objectives and activities

In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16 for the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions, UNICRI aims to increase awareness and skills related to the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of CBRN crimes. It has developed several activities and training courses to provide prosecutors, judges, investigators and other relevant law enforcement agencies and stakeholders with guidance to support the successful prosecution and adjudication of incidents involving CBRN agents.

For example, a comprehensive capacity-building training package was developed by UNICRI in order to integrate A Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes into the professional duties of prosecutors. The primary component of the training package is a five-day course entitled, Building a Case for the Prosecution of Chemical and Biological Crimes. This standalone, modulable course consists of 37 lessons that can be adapted based on the interest of the beneficiaries.

UNICRI, together with a group of subject-matter experts, has also developed a detailed and comprehensive tabletop exercise (TTX) to promote knowledge and technical skills on which participants can capitalize when working on real cases in their national contexts. The TTX includes strategic and operational level insights and real-life cases. This activity helps the identification of the needs and gaps of partner countries, as well as how to effectively address these needs and gaps during the activities and in the long-term.

After the completion of the TTX and the training on Building a Case for Prosecution, participants will have a strong case that they can now take to the court room. As part of the training package, participants will have the opportunity to apply the theoretical skills they have learned and practise successfully prosecuting a chemical and biological crime in a simulated moot court with the participation of real judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and other relevant authorities. This activity will allow participants to learn how to present their findings and how to discuss the case details in a courtroom setting.

What’s more, with funding received from the European Commission, UNICRI has developed two additional training courses entitled “Building a CBRN Case for Prosecution” and “CBRN Interagency Coordination and International Cooperation”. These training courses will soon be complemented by e-learning modules, educational videos and pre-recorded webinars, in order to further boost prosecutorial and investigative capabilities of partner countries. Together with the help of donors, it will be possible to provide countries with support that will improve capabilities, or even offer them specialized equipment that will significantly improve their performance.

The long-term goal of this initiative is to integrate the training packages into the curricula of national training institutions and academies for prosecutors, law enforcement or police. Training institutions will therefore be involved in this initiative from the outset and a two-day train-the-trainer course will be conducted at the end of each package before the official transfer of the training course to the selected training institution.

For general information concerning the topic, please consult the Guide and other related links below.



A Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes (Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian)

دليل المدعي العام لجرائم الكيمياء والأحياء المجرمة

A Prosecutor’s Guide to Chemical and Biological Crimes

Guide des procureurs pour les Crimes Chimiques et Biologiques

Guía del Fiscal sobre Delitos Químicos y Biológicos

Руководство для прокуроров по преступлениям, связанным с применением химических и биологических веществ

Настанова для працівників прокуратури щодо злочинів, пов'язаних з застосуванням хімічних та біологічних речовин


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