Intersessional work programme gathers momentum
16 August 2013
The 2013 Meeting of Experts from States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was held in Geneva from 12 to 16 August 2013. The Meeting of Experts was the third meeting in a new intersessional process created by Seventh Review Conference in 2011.
At the Meeting of Experts, participants discussed and promoted common understanding on:
- International cooperation and assistance – how States Parties can work together to build relevant capacity;
- Review of developments in the field of science and technology relevant to the BWC – how States Parties keep up with the rapid pace of advances in the life sciences and their implications for the Convention;
- Ways and means to strengthen national implementation of the convention – how States Parties work domestically to prevent disease being used as a weapon;
- Enhancement of participation in the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) – How states Parties can better exchange information to increase transparency and build confidence in compliance.
The Meeting of Experts was chaired by Ms. Judit Körömi, Special Representative of the Foreign Minister of Hungary for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation. It brought together over 350 participants from 86 countries. Expert participants came from government agencies, international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), INTERPOL, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and professional associations such as the International Federation of Biosafety Associations. A range of non-governmental organizations, academic experts and representatives of the private sector made valuable contributions to the work of the meeting.
The theme for 2013, as set by the Chairman, was “bringing more voices to the table” – with the aim both of expanding the range of countries represented, and broadening the membership of individual delegations. Speaking at the close of the meeting today, the Chairman noted her satisfaction with the results, saying “It was especially encouraging to hear some new voices: for me as Chairman it was very useful to hear the contributions this week from Benin, from Ecuador, from Mongolia, from Ghana, and from Myanmar, among others”.
During the meeting, a range of ideas and proposals were put forward and discussed by participants, including specific ideas for overcoming obstacles and challenges to cooperation, for improving and monitoring national implementation, and for increasing participation in the Confidence-building Measures. Participants also raised a wide array of scientific and technological developments of potential relevance to the Convention and discussed their possible implications.
Referring to the discussions held by the expert participants on the four topics, the Chairman said “We have heard a range of perspectives, and there have certainly been disagreements and opposing views. But … the resulting discussions have thrown light on some complex and difficult issues. It is clear that some of the matters we have been discussing – for example, the controversy over dual-use research of concern – will require a great deal of further attention and thought. In other areas, the needs are well understood, and what is required is further practical effort to meet them”.
The results of the Meeting of Experts will be considered by the Meeting of States Parties, to be held in Geneva from 9 to 13 December 2013. The Meeting of States parties will review the ideas and proposals presented at the Meeting of Experts, and produce a report aimed at promoting effective action to strengthen the operation of the Convention.
The Meeting of Experts is part of a four-year programme mandated by the 2011 Seventh Review Conference of the BWC aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Convention and improving its effectiveness as a practical barrier against the development or use of biological weapons. The BWC prohibits the development, production and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. More 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 170 States Parties, with a further 10 States having signed but not yet ratified.
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
URL : www.unog.ch/bwc
For use of the information media; not an official record