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States Parties to Promote Cooperation and Assistance, National Implementation, Participation in Confidence-building Measures, and to Address Advances in Biological Science and Technology
5 December 2012

The 2012 Meeting of States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 10 to 14 December 2012 under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Boujemâa Delmi of Algeria.  It is the first of four annual Meetings of States parties in the 2012-2015 intersessional programme leading up to the Eighth BWC Review Conference in 2016. The meeting will take stock of progress made since the 2011 Seventh Review Conference, including the work of the Meeting of Experts (Geneva, 16-20 July 2012), and will examine further steps to be taken to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and improve its effectiveness as a practical barrier against the development or use of biological weapons.

Noting that the Meeting of Experts in July generated "constructive discussions in a positive atmosphere that produced a large number of ideas and proposals", and recognizing that time during the Meeting of States parties will be limited, the Chairman said that the task of States parties now was "to take this wealth of information and ideas and consider how we might transform it into common understandings and effective action".

During the course of the week-long meeting, States parties are expected to develop common understandings on the three standing agenda items considered throughout this intersessional programme: strengthening national implementation; improving cooperation and assistance to build capacity in areas such as disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment; and reviewing relevant scientific developments. States parties are expected to agree on the significance of recent advances in enabling technologies and biological sciences that have potential dual-use applications.

States parties are consequently set to discuss measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity and to encourage responsible conduct in the life sciences through education, awareness-raising, and codes of conduct. They will also consider reports on national implementation activities and progress with the recently-established assistance and cooperation database.

The meeting will be instrumental in encouraging States parties to participate in the annual exchange of confidence-building measures (CBMs), a practical exercise to promote transparency and build trust among States parties. The meeting will also consider progress with universalization of the Convention, which currently has 166 States parties. "Promotion of universality is the responsibility of all States parties," the Chairman said, adding that "a further concerted effort is needed to persuade states not party to join the Convention".

The opening day of the meeting will be devoted to a general debate. At the invitation of the Chairman, senior figures from collaborating international organizations, including the Director-General of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Dr. Bernard Vallat, and the Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Mrs. Grace Asirwatham, will address States Parties. The Chairman said that these organizations had been invited to "set out their priorities in areas of common interest and their views on the opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with the BWC over the course of the intersessional programme".

The Meeting of States parties will also include several morning and afternoon side events organized by number of states and organizations, including Canada, Belgium, the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board, France and UNIDIR, IAP: the Global Network of Scientific Academies, the European Union, the University of Bath, the University of Bradford, the Landau Network Centro Volta, the University of Hamburg, and Green Cross International.

Formally referred to as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the treaty opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It currently has 166 States parties, with an additional 12 States having signed but not yet ratified the Convention.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Richard Lennane
Head, BWC Implementation Support Unit
Tel: +41 (0)22 917 22 30
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 04 83

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