ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

News Archive



This page contains older news items that have been removed from the "News" and "Communications" sections of the Information for States Parties page.

News from 2013
  • List of speakers for the Meeting of States Parties: the list of speakers for the General Debate on 9 December is now open. To inscribe, please send an e-mail to bwc@unog.ch, if possible providing the name of the speaker and noting any preferences for time.
  • Chair writes to States Parties - On 20 November, the Chairman wrote to States Parties to seek their views on how best to capture the work done this year and to build upon the common understandings reached in the Report of the 2012 Meeting of States Parties.
  • The current BWC Intersessional Programme and upcoming Meeting of States Parties: Context, issues and reflections - The Geneva Forum is holding an event on this topic on 28 November 2013 from 10:00-11:45 at the Palais des Nations (Room XXIII). This orientation briefing will start with an overview of the mandate, structure and mechanics of the BWC Intersessional Programme (ISP). It will then present an analysis of, and reflections on, common understandings achieved so far and possible future developments in the thematic areas covered by the current ISP. Finally, the briefing will address the question of compliance, particularly relating to recent discussions on, and proposals for, innovative compliance mechanisms.
  • Chair visits Czech biodefence facility - on 9 September the Chairman visited the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection in the Czech Republic, their leading institute for the development and research in the field of chemical, biological and radioactive agents and in the verification of the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons. During the visit the Chairman was also briefed on national experiences of implementing the Convention.

  • Chair writes to States Parties - On 28 October, the Chairman wrote to States Parties to inform them of preparations for the Meeting of States Parties (including on the agenda, programme of work, and details for registering), the synthesis paper, submission and updates of information, views on the work and outcome of the forthcoming meeting, and next steps. Annexed to the letter were a draft provisional programme of work and the synthesis paper.
  • Bridging Science and Security - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, in collaboration with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), have hosted meetings with the biological sciences community to summarize important lessons learned, challenges faced, and areas for improvement of local and national-level biosecurity initiatives.
  • Biological Material and Biosafety in the Framework of the Implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention - Details are online for the above international regional seminar being held 9-11 October 2013 in Santiago, Chile. Details in English and Spanish can be found online: http://www.dgmn.cl/seminario.dgmn.cl
  • Chair writes to States Parties - on 28 June, the 2013 BWC Chair, Judit Koromu of Hungary, wrote to States Parties. The letter contained more detailed plans for the Meeting of Experts, including: an indicative schedule and provisional programme of work; more details on observers and Guests of the meeting; as well as information on registration and next steps.
  • Chair briefs regional groups - on Wednesday 17 April the 2013 BWC Chair, Judit Koromu of Hungary, briefed the Eastern European Group (10.30), the Western Group (11.30) and the Group of NAM and Other States (15.00). Her comments covered plans for the Meeting of Experts, sponsorship and universalization, as well as background papers
  • BWC reaches 170 States Parties - four states have joined so far in 2013: Cameroon on 18 January; Nauru on 5 March; Guyana on 26 March; and Malawi on 2 April.
  • Nauru accedes to the Biological Weapons Convention - the United States, as Depositary Government, confirmed the accession of Nauru to the Convention on 5 March 2013. This brings the membership of the BWC to 168 States Parties.
  • BWC 2013 Chairman writes to States Parties - on 18 February, the Chairman of the 2013 meetings of the BWC, Ms. Judit Körömi, wrote to States Parties to outline her plans for the year. The letter also included information on the sponsorship programme, universality and CBMs.
  • Cameroon accedes to the Biological Weapons Convention - the United States, as Depositary Government, confirmed the accession of Cameroon to the Convention on 18 January 2013. This brings the membership of the BWC to 167 States Parties.


News from 2012
  • The Republic of the Marshall Islands accedes to the Biological Weapons Convention - Washington confirmed the accession of the Marshall Islands on 15 November 2012. This brings the membership of the BWC to 166 States Parties.
  • BWC 2012 Chair writes to States Parties - Following regional group consultations, the Chair of the BWC, Ambassador Boujemâa Delmi of Algeria, wrote on 21 June to States Parties. The letter details his plans on: the programme of work; observers and guests of the meeting; background papers; poster session; sponsorship for participation; as well as the next steps. Attached to the letter are: a revised programme of work; a revised allocation of sub-items; and a revised list of invitees.
  • BWC 2012 Chair writes to States Parties - On 1 June 2012 the Chair of the BWC, Ambassador Boujemâa Delmi of Algeria, wrote to States Parties detailing his plans for the Meeting of Experts. The letter included plans for: the agenda and programme of work; invited participants; background papers; the outcome of the meeting; as well as sponsorship for participation. Annexed to the letter was: a proposed agenda; a proposed programme of work; a possible allocation of sub-items; and a list of possible invitees.
  • Program in International Biological Sciences Security Management - The Public Health Agency of Canada, the Office of Professional Training and Development at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the University of Bradford (UK) are pleased to announce a cooperative Program in International Biological Sciences Security Management and the pilot offering of the first Advanced Certificate in International Biological Sciences Security workshop this August 2012.
  • Update from the Head of the ISU - On 13 April 2012, the Head of the ISU, Mr Richard Lennane, wrote to States Parties on the confirmation of appointments of office holders for 2012. The letter indicates that Ambassador Boujemâa Delmi (Algeria) has been appointed Chair and that Dr. Cezary Lusinski (Poland) and Ambassador Alexandre Fasel (Switzerland) have been appointed as Vice-Chairs.
  • Head of ISU writes to States Parties - On 23 March, the Head of the ISU, Mr Richard Lennane, wrote to States Parties. The letter touches upon the appointment of office holders (Chair and Vice-Chairs) for BWC meetings this year, as well as the new sponsorship programme and assistance database associated with work under the treaty.
  • BWC 2012 Chair announces his departure from Geneva - On 15 March, the Chair of the BWC, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy of Algeria, wrote to States Parties indicating that he will not be able to continue to Chair the BWC meetings in 2012. Amb. Jazairy stated in the letter that his term in Geneva would conclude on 31 March and proposed a process (similar to that used in 2010) for the appointment of a successor.
  • BWC 2012 Chair writes to States Parties - On 27 February 2012, the Chair of the BWC, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy of Algeria, wrote to States Parties detailing his plans for the development of a strategy and programme of work for BWC efforts. The letter also addresses the Sponsorship Prorgamme, CBMs, and Universality. Also attached was an extract from the Final Document of the Seventh Review Conference on the Standing Agenda Items.


News from 2011
  • President-designate addresses regional groups - on 29 November the President-designate met with each of the regional groups and introduced the provisional indicative programme of work, provided details of practical arrangements for the review conference and answered questions and queries. His talking points are now available.
  • President-designate writes to States Parties - In a pair of letters, the first dated 17 November, the President-designate wrote to States Parties to update them on preparations for the review conference. The letter included a draft provisional indicative programme of work, details of registration and credential procedures as well as information on further consultations. A second letter, dated 18 November, announced another open ended consultation - this time on a new intersessional process. The consultation is due to take place from 13:30 to 15:00 on Wednesday 23 November 2011, in Room XXV.
  • The Nonproliferation Review available now! – The Special Issue: Global Perspectives on Re-envisioning the Biological Weapons Convention is the product of a joint project of the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Collaboration of Taylor and Francis, the publisher of the journal, have made the contents of this special issue available for those involved with the review conference FREE OF COST!
  • The NIH on behalf of the US government is sponsoring an international Workshop The Intersection of Science and Security: a Case Study Approach, Continuing the global dialogue with the scientific and science policy community: focus on Asia and the Western Pacific on December 9, 2011, 1:00-4:30 PM on the NIH main campus. The event is being hosted by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, an advisory committee to the NIH Director, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Cabinet-level Departments and Agencies that fund or conduct life sciences research. The purpose of the Workshop is to give attendees a greater understanding of dual use research, including an awareness of strategies for managing dual use research of concern and an appreciation of how these issues are being addressed around the globe and, especially in Asia and the Western Pacific. We hope that you will be able to participate. The attached flyer provides general information about the Workshop and the agenda provides detailed information about the distinguished presenters and panelists from Asia, the Western Pacific and the United States. For more information please visit http://oba.od.nih.gov/biosecurity/internationalwebcast.html and register at http://oba.od.nih.gov/biosecurity/biosecurity_meetings.html.

  • Burundi ratifies the Biological Weapons Convention - London confirmed Burundi's ratification on 18 October 2011. This brings the membership of the BWC to 165 States Parties.
  • President-designate meets regional groups - The President-designate met the three regional groups between 23 and 28 September 2011 to discuss preparations for the Seventh Review Conference. The President-designate's speaking notes for these meetings are available here.
  • Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Program - PEER is a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) that is designed to address development challenges through international research collaboration. This competitive grants program will allow scientists in developing countries to apply for funds to support research and capacity-building activities in partnership with their NSF-funded collaborators on topics of importance to USAID. Areas in which both NSF and USAID have strong mutual interests include, but are not limited to, the following: Food security topics; Global health issues such as ecology of infectious disease, biomedical engineering, and natural/human system interactions; Climate change impacts such as water sustainability, hydrology, ocean acidification, climate process and modeling, and environmental engineering; Other development topics including disaster mitigation, biodiversity, water, and renewable energy. The PEER application form, proposal preparation instructions, and FAQs are available online at http://www.nationalacademies.org/peer. Applicants who have questions after reviewing these materials are encouraged to contact PEER staff by e-mail at peer@nas.edu or by telephone at +1-202-334-3656 or +1-202-334-1728.

  • Informal briefing on the Implementation Support Unit: As part of preparations for the Seventh Review Conference, the President-designate has invited all States Parties and signatories to an informal briefing on the ISU, to be held from 11:30-13:00 on Wednesday 7 September in Room XII. The briefing will cover the origins, mandate, structure, financing and operations of the ISU, and will provide an opportunity for delegations to ask questions and seek clarifications on various aspects which may be relevant in deciding the future of the Unit.
  • Course on Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity, Biosafety and Bioethics - The Public Health Agency of Canada and the University of Bradford are pleased to announce the delivery of a university-level accredited pilot course on applied dual-use biosecurity, biosafety and bioethics that is intended to benefit an international audience and will be given at the Carleton University in Ottawa from September 19-30, 2011. This collaborative course is the first step in the development of a joint curriculum on biosafety, biosecurity and bioethics for life scientists. The intention of the course is to help participants develop an understanding of the concepts of biosafety and biosecurity in the laboratory setting, and highlight the ethical, legal and social relevance of dual-use biosecurity. The course will cover approaches to biosafety and biosecurity risk assessment; risk mitigation strategies; capacity building for biosafety, biosecurity, and bioethics training; and the range of issues surrounding the responsible use of dual-use biotechnology. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a Certificate of Participation from the Public Health Agency of Canada and be awarded 30 UK Higher Education Master’s-level credits and a Certificate of Continuing Education from the University of Bradford. These credits may be transferable. The deadline for submitting applications is August 26th, 2011. Please take advantage of this unique opportunity by completing the attached application form as space is limited to a maximum of 40 participants. Applications will be considered and selected participants will be notified by September 2nd, 2011. Please note that the course will be offered in English only. We also encourage you to distribute this email to any of your colleagues who may be interested in applying. A registration form for the course is now available in both English and French.
  • President-designate writes to States Parties - The President-designate has written to States Parties on efforts to expand treaty membership and progress in preparing for the review conference. The letter, dated 6 June 2011, covered: requests for inputs for background documents; the development of substantive proposals; and information on universalization.
  • Mozambique joins the Biological Weapons Convention - Mozambique deposited its instrument of accession in London on 29 March 2011, becoming a State Party to the BWC and bringing the membership of the treaty to 164. The President-designate of the Seventh Review Conference of the BWC, Ambassador Paul van den IJssel (Netherlands), warmly welcomed the accession, saying "I congratulate the Government of Mozambique on taking this important step to join the efforts of the international community to strengthen international security by ensuring that biological science and technology is used only for the benefit of people around the world". The President-designate added that by acceding to the BWC Mozambique was setting an example for other African states which are yet to join the treaty. "Mozambique's action demonstrates that the treaty is relevant and provides concrete benefits for security and development, especially in Africa", he said. "I look forward to welcoming the delegation of Mozambique to the Seventh Review Conference as a State Party to the BWC, and to working with Mozambique to further the aims of the treaty in Africa and around the world".
  • President-designate meets regional groups - The President-designate met the three regional groups between 17 and 25 February 2011 for an initial consultation and exchange of views on preparations for the Seventh Review Conference. The President-designate's speaking notes for these meetings are available here.
  • President-designate writes to States Parties - The President-designate of the Seventh Review Conference, Ambassador Paul van den IJssel of the Netherlands, wrote to States Parties on 25 January 2011 to outline his plans for preparing for the Seventh Review Conference.
  • President-designate meets United Nations Secretary-General - The President-designate met the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, in Geneva on 25 January on 2011, and invited him to address the opening of the Seventh Review Conference.


News from 2010
  • Chair provides information to regional groups - the Chairman provided this note to the three regional groups, outlining arrangements for the Meeting of States Parties (6-10 December 2010). Attached to the note was the proposed indicative schedule for the Meeting.
  • Trilateral Civilian-Military Forum on Outbreak Response and Bioterrorism Investigation - From 19-21 October 2010 representatives from the United States of America, Romania and the Republic of Moldova will gather to promote interagency cooperation (including military-to-military, and military-to-civilian), coordination and synchronization for preparing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease outbreaks, whether natural, accidental, or deliberate in nature. The event will help to establish sustainable laboratory partnerships to enhance training and medical surveillance initiatives with host nation counterparts, strengthen core capacities required by the WHO International Health Regulations and existing national measures consistent with obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention and the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 to deter, prevent, or respond to biological incidents or threats.
  • Czech Republic offer to provide assistance in implementing BWC - The Czech Republic has honour to offer assistance to the State Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in implementing their BTWC obligations by sharing its own experience and capabilities. The Czech Republic offers, inter alia, to provide assistance to other State Parties in adopting administrative measures required for the full implementation of the BTWC and developing legislation to ensure national implementation, including regulatory frameworks for handling of biological pathogens and toxins. National authority of the Czech Republic (State Office for Nuclear safety) offers assistance in preparation of national Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and of computerized data collation as a basis for national CBMs. National inspectors working in established national inspection framework are prepared to share experiences with relevant national stakeholders from State Parties to help verify information declared in CBMs. The Czech Republic is also prepared to offer practical training courses for first responders, medical personnel or inspection teams including the necessary infrastructure, training facilities, investigation experts and national BTWC inspectors. Full contact details are available in the restricted access section of this website. For further information, please contact the Implementation Support Unit.
  • New Chairman appointed, writes to States Parties: On 12 July, Ambassador Pedro Oyarce of Chile was officially appointed as Chairman of the 2010 Meeting of Experts and Meeting of States Parties. The new Chairman wrote to States Parties the same day, outlining his plans for continuing the preparations for the Meeting of Experts (23-27 August). The letter included an indicative schedule for the meeting.
  • New course on WMD disarmament: a course on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in a Changing World will be held in The Hague from 30 August to 3 September 2010. Developed by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in partnership with the OPCW, this new 1-week summer programme aims to provide broad-based understanding of international WMD treaties for young professionals and advanced graduate students who aspire to careers in disarmament and non-proliferation. The inter-disciplinary course content will be delivered by specialized academics from institutes in the Netherlands and officials from the BWC Implementation Support Unit, CTBTO, IAEA, OPCW, and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. For more information, interested applicants should visit the Asser Instituut website here.
  • Southern Caucasus Southern Caucasus Collaboration and Collaboration and Partnership in Countering Partnership in Countering Biological Threats - from 11-12 May 2010 the Southern Caucasus Bioshield 2010 workshop (US Department of Health and Human Services information) (Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health information) and table-top exercise was held in Tbilisi, Georgia. It saw around 80 participants from governments, international organizations and non-governmental bodies, from both security and law enforcement sectors, gather to address multi-layered systems of defense for public health security. It also focused on epidemiological surveillance and investigations.
  • Chair addresses regional groups - on 29 & 30 March 2010, the Chairman briefed the regional groups on his plans for the year. He informed them that due to a change of Government in Chile he was no longer going to be able to chair the meetings. Measures are currently being put in place to ensure that there will be a suitable Chair as soon as possible. The remainder of the address provided an outline for the work of the BWC throughout 2010. Amb. Portales' remarks highlighted how the topic can be broken down into national & international, as well as health & security aspects (see below & slide). The Chair also detailed preparations for the Meeting of Experts, including: the provision of background information; identifying international, regional and professional expertise; details of relevant national efforts; the different mechanisms for sharing information; as well as the provision of assistance for participation in the meeting. The briefing also covered efforts on universalization, CBMs, and preparations for the 7th Review Conference.

National
International
Health National capacity for public health/veterinary and humanitarian response

International public health/veterinary and humanitarian response channels

Security National forensic investigation capacity

International mechanisms and assistance for investigation


  • Chair writes to States Parties on plans for 2010 - The letter, dated 25 February, focuses on a practical approach to 2010 and encourages States Parties to focus on the question "If a biological weapon were to be used tomorrow, how would we, the States Parties, individually and collectively respond"? The Chair points out that this topic will involve a wide range of actors and considerations and stresses the importance of being well prepared. He outlines how he intend to ensure the work of the BWC in 2010 follows the established practices and to engage all those who will need to be involved to ensure another successful outcome. The letter discusses the Chair's intentions on universalization and identifies a range of efforts he will be pursuing over the coming months. It also includes a reminder of the CBM submission deadline and an enquiry as to the best way to proceed on preparations for the Seventh Review Conference in 2011.


News from 2009
  • NSABB hosts an international dialogue on Dual Use Concerns in Life Sciences Research - On October 22, 2009, the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored its first regional Webinar on dual use research, hosted by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). The goal of the event was to foster international engagement of life sciences researchers, biosafety and biosecurity experts, government policy officials, and ethicists on the issue of dual use life sciences research. Effective global dialogue on concerns and issues regarding dual use life sciences research is key to achieving an effective balance between public health priorities and national security concerns. Numerous national- and international-level activities are currently underway to raise awareness of the risks posed by dual use life sciences research as well as to address or manage these risks while, at the same time, promoting responsible life sciences research. This international Videocast focused on the Americas is the first in a series of internet-based meetings aimed at engaging the international community by region.
  • EU Joint Action in Support of BWC launches CBM Guide - the Guide to Participation in the Confidence-Building Measures of the BWC is officially released on 8 December 2009 at the Meeting of States Parties. It contains an introduction to the CBMs, practicalities for submission, information on getting started and identifying resources and contacts, detailed guidance on completing the forms, examples of completed forms, suggestions for dealing with subsequent submissions, as well as sources of advice and assistance.
  • Chairman hold consulations in advance of 2009 MSP - throughout the second half of November Ambassador Grinius has been meeting with interested parties to discuss his plans for the Meeting of States Parties. His remarks at these meetings covered his general approach, the Programme of Work, his desire to achieve and action based outcome, as well as the topics of universalization and Confidence-Building Measures.
  • Chairman outlines plans for Meeting of States Parties - on 15 October, the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada, wrote to States Parties to outline his plans for the meeting which will be held in Geneva from 7-11 December 2009. Attached to the letter was the Chairman's synthesis of ideas and proposals made at the Meeting of Experts in August.
  • Workshop on the BWC - The BWC Implementation Support Unit in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre are pleased to announce a workshop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 20 to 21 October 2009. The event will cover the current biological weapons threat, overlaps between the BWC and UN Security Council Resolution 1540, national implementation, assistance, cooperation, coordination, confidence-building measures, scientific and technological developments, as well as regional and national perspectives and activities. A press release for the event is now available.
  • Regional BWC Workshop in the Caucuses and Central Asia - Held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 16-17 September, 2009, this workshop brought together over fifty representatives from seven countries in this region. Funded by Canada, participants ranged from technical health and agriculture specialists to national defence and trade representatives. Follwing opening remarks by the Chair, Ambassador Grinius of Canada, participants heard presentations from experts of the BWC's three depositary states (UK, US and Russia), as well as the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and the civil society organisation VERTIC. In addition to raising awareness about capacity-building opportunities, the seminar provided regional practitioners an opportunity to exchange information and views on common threats and best practices, with a view to advancing this year's intersessional topic of building capacity and collaboration.
  • Workshop on the International Health Regulations - The BWC Implementation Support Unit in cooperation with the WHO held a one day workshop on the revised International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) on 21 August. Click here for more information.
  • European Union to launch Joint Action in support of the BWC - All delegations are invited to the official launch of the EU Joint Action in support of the Biological Weapons Convention, which will be held at lunchtime on the opening day of the Meeting of Experts, Monday 24 August 2009, in Room XXIII. Further information on the Joint Action is available here.
  • Chairman releases more details of plans for Meeting of Experts - In his third letter to States Parties, dated 20 July 2009, Ambassador Marius Grinius outlined his thinking in the final approach to the Meeting of Experts due to take place from 24 to 28 August 2009. The letter provides details of the planned schedule, arrangements for the poster session, the practicalities of making statements and presentations, information on registration, an update on sponsorship efforts and his continued efforts to get feedback from delegations.
  • Registration opens for the Meeting of Experts: Registration for the 2009 Meeting of Experts, to be held in Gemeva from 24 to 28 August 2009, is now open. Delegations are encouraged to register their participation as early as possible. See the registration section of the Meeting of Experts page for registration procedures.
  • Chairman's second meeting with regional groups: the Chairman will meet the Group of NAM and Other States, the Western Group and the Eastern European Group on 28 May to discuss preparations for the Meeting of Experts. In advance of the meetings, the Chairman released his talking points.
  • Second letter from 2009 Chair to BWC States Parties - On 24 April 2009 Ambassador Marius Grinius wrote again to States Parties to brief them on his progress in preparing for the 24-28 August Meeting of Experts (MX). In his letter, the Chair included a 'to do' list for States Parties, including: reviewing proposed arrangements for the MX (attached to the letter); identifying experts for national delegations; starting work on substantive contributions; identify need for, or ability to provide, assistance on this year's topic; look into sponsoring participation at the MX; pursue universalization commitments; and take part in the annual CBMs.
  • Chairman to meet regional groups: the Chairman, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada, will meet the Eastern European Group on 26 February and the Western Group and the Group of NAM and Other States on 27 February. In advance of the meetings, the Chairman released his talking points.
  • BWC 2009 Chairman reveals plans for the year - In a letter to States Parties, dated 6 February, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada highlighted his three priority areas for 2009. His first goal was to ensure that BWC meetings continue the successes of previous years and make best use of existing precedents and working practices. The Chair's second aim is to focus sustained effort on the universalization of the Convention, including bilateral and regional activities. The third area of focus is on Confidence-Building Measures, where the Chair is keen to ensure that the most is made of exisiting assistance to encourage States Parties to participate in the information exchange regime. In an attachment to his letter, Ambassador Grinius outlined, in more detail, some of his plans for the Meeting of Experts (24-28 August 2009), including: requests for feedback from States Parties on how to proceed; thoughts on structured engagement; an action based outcome for 2009; suggested background papers and tools; information States Parties might wish to provide; opportunities to help others participate; as well as thoughts on next steps.


News from 2008
  • BWC Chairman briefs international scientific community on progress made in 2008: From 7 to 9 December 2008, the Chairman of the 2008 meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention, Ambassador Georgi Avramchev of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, participated in a workshop on biosecurity at the Institute of Microbiology in Beijing. The event was co-organised by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the InterAcademy Panel and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Chairman took the opportunity to review progress throughout the year on the aims and objectives he set out at a similar meeting in Budapest, Hungary in February. In his remarks, the Ambassador Avramchev covered information on the Convention, its activities this year, the outputs produced during his chairmanship and concluded by highlighting the important role played by the Convention in both minimising the threats of biology being used to our collective harm whilst maximising its potential for benefit.
  • Cook Islands accedes to Biological Weapons Convention: The Depositories confirmed that the Cook Islands deposited its instrument of accession on 4 December 2008 to become the 163rd States Party.
  • Report of 2nd International Forum on Biosecurity released: The 2nd International Forum on Biosecurity, held in Budapest, Hungary from 30 March to 2 April 2008, saw individuals and organizations gather to once again look at how to reduce the risk that the results of the work done by the international scientific community could be used for hostile purposes by terrorists and states. The focus of the meeting was on what had been accomplished and what challenges remained. There was a serious effort to identify a range of potential next steps, and also an effort to identify opportunities where international scientific organizations could make substantive contributions and offer their advice and expertise to policy discussions. The report of the meeting is now available on the website of the US National Academies. The meeting was addressed by the 2008 Chair of the BWC.
  • Regional Group Meetings with the Chairman: On 19 and 20 November 2008, Ambassador Avramchev addressed all three regional groups. In this remarks, the Chairman discussed his plans for the forthcoming Meeting of States Parties, looked at some of the likely outcomes and introduced reports to be presented to the meeting on both efforts to increase the membership of the BWC and the activities of the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) over the last year. Distributed at the meeting were an Indicative Schedule for the Meeting of States Parties and an informal Preliminary Report on Universalization Activities. In addition the Chairman also made mention of the informal Advance Report of the ISU.
  • BWC Chairman participates in NSABB meeting: For the first time, a representative of the Convention participated in an international meeting organised by the US National Scientific Advisory Board on Biosecurity. In preparation for the meeting, the Chairman requested the ISU to put together a short background information paper on The Biological Weapons Convention and Scientific Oversight. On 5 to 6 November 2008, the Chairman, Ambassador Avramchev attended the workshop on Sustaining Progress in the Life Sciences, held in Bathesda, Maryland. During the course of the meeting, the Chairman made a series of opening remarks and contributed to the break-out session on Codes of Conduct.
  • International Biosecurity Forum hears pre-recorded address from BWC Chair: Although unable to be present in person, Ambassador Avramchev contributed to this meeting held in Amman Jordan from 27 to 29 October 2008. In his statement, the Chairman addressed the importance of biosecurity, efforts to improve the non-proliferation of biological weapons, as well as the strengths of regional cooperation. The video footage of the statement can also be found online.
  • Chairman's remarks to meeting on scientific education: On 27 October 2008 Bradford University and Landau Network - Centro Volta held the meeting "Fostering the Biosecurity Norm: An Educational Module for Life Sciences Students" in Como, Italy. Ambassador Avramchev briefed the meeting on relevant progress under the BWC. Basing his remarks on the recent Meeting of Experts, the Chairman outlined the scope, content and tools he felt would be most useful for education and raising awareness. The Chairman also provided some insights of his plans for the forthcoming Meeting of States Parties.
  • Chairman addresses UN General Assembly First Committee: On 17 October 2008, the Chairman addressed a session of the First Committee dedicated to other weapons of mass destruction. In his remarks, the Chair reviewed progress made since the Sixth Review Conference in 2006. He also briefed the First Committee on this year's efforts, in particular on the outcome of the Meeting of Experts in August. Ambassador Avramchev took the opportunity to highlight some of the major threads that he recalled from that meeting. The press release from the meeting stressed that the Biological Weapons Convention had now passed a major 'turning point' in its efforts to tackle biological weapons.
  • Biological Weapons Convention briefing for UN Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee: On 16 October 2008, the Chairman of the 2008 meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention briefed members of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee. In his statement the Chairman examined the overlap in the aims and objectives of the two intruments. The Head of the Implementation Support Unit, Mr Richard Lennane, then briefed members of the Committee on the ISU.
  • Chairman writes to States Parties - releases synthesis paper & plans for Meeting of States Parties: In his letter, dated 10 October 2008, the Chairman provided States Parties with a synthesis paper which distilled part of the outcome of the Meeting of experts into a form which he hopes will facilitate preparations for the Meeting of States Parties. As preparations for the December meeting get underway, the Chair also circulated an advance version of the provisional agenda. He also took the opportunity to remind States Parties that he will also be reporting to the Meeting of States Parties on the promotion of universality.
  • Chairman updates States Parties on Meeting of Experts: The Chairman wrote to States Parties on 29 July 2008 to update them on preparations for the Meeting of Experts. Included with the letter were an indicative schedule for the meeting, and an annotated list of organisations which have accepted the Chairman's invitation to participate.
  • UAE ratifies BWC - On 19 June 2008, the United Arab Emirates ratified the Biological Weapons Convention to become its 162nd State Party. The UAE, which signed the treaty on 28 September 1982, is the first non-African state to join the treaty this year. The UAE has received attention from both States Parties and successive BWC Chairs as part of the universalization activities agreed to at the treaty's Sixth Review Conference in 2006. Ambassador Avramchev, the Chair of the 2008 meetings of the BWC welcomed the ratification and said "this is an important step towards universality. It goes to show that the BWC remains relevant in today's security environment and that states in all regions of the world continue to see the value in joining the treaty."
  • Implementation Support Unit holds French language seminar - On 12 June the ISU held an awareness raising and universalization seminar in the Palais des Nations. The entire event was conducted in French and prompted new levels of interactivity from delegations that function primarily in that language. The event included presentations by the United Nations Institute for Disarmamament Research (as an introduction, to provide background and on national implementation), the ISU (on its creation, role and activities) and States Parties (on building confidence and transparency in the regime, as well as the two topics for 2008 meetings of the BWC).
  • Chairman meets regional groups: The Chairman met the three regional groups on 12 and 16 June for a second briefing on preparations for the Meeting of Experts. In his briefing, the Chairman covered participation, the schedule, the poster sessions and sponsorship for attendance, as well as reminding States Parties of the importance of continuing efforts on universalization.
  • Chairman releases updated information on Meeting of Experts. In his second letter to States Parties (dated 24 April 2008), the Chairman of this year's meetings, Ambassador Avramchev of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, released additional information on his plans for the summer meeting (18-22 August 2008). Ambassador Avramchev provided additional information on participation of relevant organisations and experts (including an Annex to the letter listing which organisations he has invited), the organisation of the Meeting of Experts, presenting national information, poster sessions, sponsorship for participation, and further consultations.
  • Positive early signs of 2008 CBM participation. As the deadline for the submission of this year's CBM submissions (to cover 2007) passes, things are looking good for record levels of participation. 27 States had made returns by the close of business on 15 April 2008 as compared to 17 the year before. In the end, a record 65 States participated in the 2007 CBMs (to cover 2006). It is hoped that these possitive early numbers will see an even larger number of States Parties making returns during the remainder of 2008.
  • Chairman addresses 2nd International Forum on Biosecurity. In early April, this forum was held in Budapest, Hungary by a variety of international scientific organisations, including both scientific academies and professional societies. The 2008 BWC Chairman, Ambassador Avramchev of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, made a key note address to this meeting. Much of the content of this meeting was pertinent for the forthcoming Meeting of Experts. In his remarks, the Chairman hoped that as many participants as possible from the Hungary event would also be able to contribute to this year's work of the BWC.
  • 2008 BWC Chairman briefs regional groups on plans for the year. Following up from his letter to States Parties (dated 14 February), the Chairman Ambassador Avramchev of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has met with all three regional groups - the Non-Aligned Movement and Other States on 27 February, the Western Group on 29 February and the Eastern Group on 14 March 2008. In his remarks to these meetings, the Chairman developed the themes laid out in his letter and received feedback from States Parties. Based upon his consultations, over the coming weeks the Chairman will further develop his ideas and write a second letter to States Parties.
  • Zambia and Madagascar join the Biological Weapons Convention. BWC Depositories have confirmed that Zambia and Madagascar acceded to the BWC, respectively in 15 January and 7 March 2008 . This brings the total number of States Parties up to 161 (there remain 14 Signatories and are now 20 States not currently a member).
  • 2008 BWC Chairman announces 'first-thoughts' on plans for the year. In a letter to States Parties, Ambassador Avramchev the Chairman of the 2008 meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention, described preparations for the Meeting of Experts due to take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 18 - 22 August. The meeting will address both 'biosafety and biosecurity' as well as 'oversight, education, awareness raising and... codes of conduct'. The Chair requested states to provide and update information on national arrangements relevant to the topics under discussion. Amb. Avramchev also requested input on identifying relevant organisations and experts to participate in the meeting. The Chair also provided the first details of likely background documents to be prepared by the Implementation Support Unit. Amb. Avramchev also discussed improving interaction amongst experts and sponsorship for participation. In the wider BWC context, the letter also touches on both universalization activities and the submission of 2008 Confidence-Building Measures.


News from 2007
  • From Adjacency to Synergy - outcome of the 2007 BWC MSP. The Report of the 2007 Meeting of States Parties of the Biological Weapons Convention detailed a number of common understandings by States Parties on what is needed to move from adjacency to synergy (as the Chairman had subtitled the meeting), including: improved interactions with international organisations; new mechanisms for engaging with academics, scientists and civil society; enhanced outreach to industry; a renewed interest and participation in side events; an historical endorsement of the Implementation Support Unit; significant progress in expanding the membership of the treaty; and practical tools for improving implementation.
  • BWC 2007 Meeting of States Parties reaches successful conclusion. The meeting adopted its Report by consensus on the morning of Friday 14 December 2007. In his closing remarks, the Chairman, Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, concluded "we have had a very productive meeting, and have at least made a good start on our goal of moving from adjacency to synergy in our efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of the Convention, in the areas we have been looking at of enhancing national implementation and regional and sub-regional cooperation".
  • List of speakers for Meeting of States Parties now open: Delegations wishing to inscribe fo the General Debate are requested to do so by e-mail to rlennane@unog.ch. The Chairman would like to request delegations to keep their statements to a maximum of 5-7 minutes in length (10-12 minutes for statements on behalf of groups).
  • Preparing for the Second Intersessional Process: On Thursday, 22 November the Chairman made the opening remarks at the inaugural seminar of a training course for diplomats dedicated to enhancing the BWC. The course is being organised by the Diplomatic Studies Programme of the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva and the BioWeapons Prevention Project. At the same event, the ISU made presentations on the "ISU and 2007 - 2010 Intersessional Programme" and "Online Tools provided by the ISU".
  • Regional Group Meetings: The Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Masood Khan, addressed the three BWC regional groups on Wednesday, 14 November 2007. His remarks developed the approach he plans to take, and the expected outcome for the meeting, due to be held in Geneva from 10-14 December. Distributed at this meeting was a document detailing the current universality status of the BWC. This document can be found in the Restricted Area of the website.
  • Biosafety and Biosecurity Regional Conference in Middle East: Ambassador Khan addressed the Biosafety and Biosecurity International Conference 2007, held in Abu Dhabi, 12-14 November 2007. The event was organised by the International Council for Life Sciences and supported by the Government of the United Arab Emirates. In his remarks, Ambassador Khan outlined the important role played by the BWC in evolving biosecurity discussions.
  • Chairman's Universalization Lunch: On 6 November 2007 the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Masood Khan, hosted a lunch for members of the Geneva missions of States not party to, and Signatory States of, the Convention. During the lunch, Ambassador Khan made spoke about the importance of joining the BWC.
  • Biosafety, Biosecurity and Coping with the Revolution in Biotechnology: Ambassador Khan made the keynote address at a meeting on these issues, held in Como, Italy on 25 October 2007.
  • BWC issues discussed at First Committee: the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties addressed the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on 22 October 2007. In his remarks, Ambassador Khan detailed progress made in obtaining universality for the BWC, the importance of reinforcing cooperation and coordination amongst international organisations, as well as reporting on progress made in the 2007 - 2010 intersessional process.
  • Transparency and Biosecurity: The Chairman of the 2007 Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Khan addressed the Conference on Transparency in Current and Emerging Approaches to Biosecurity, held on 19 October 2007, at George Mason University, Arlington VA Campus.
  • Chairman outlines plans for Meeting of States Parties: the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Masood Khan, wrote to all States Parties on 18 October outlining his plans for the meeting. A provisional agenda and a synthesis paper were attached to the letter. The Meeting of States Parties will be held in Geneva from 10-14 December, and registration will open on 5 November.
  • Wilton Park meeting on "The BWC: Looking Ahead": Ambassador Khan addressed this meeting in his capacity as Chairman of the 2007 Meeting of States Parties. His remarks focused on the importance of collective action across the various sectors and interests.
  • National Implementation Database (NID) updated: 71 additional national measures have been added to the NID as a result of the presentations, statements and interventions made at the 2007 Meeting of Experts in August. This brings the total number of measures in the database up to 2009 from 130 States and 1 regional organization. Additional information can be found on the National Implementation page.
  • Successful outcome to 2007 Meeting of Experts: the meeting concluded on 24 August by adopting its report by consensus. It was made up of a Procedural Report (as adopted) and two annexes. One annex listed the official documents of the meeting. The other Draft Annex listed lessons, proposals, recommendations, etc. made during the meeting (as adopted). During the same session, the Chairman made Closing Remarks and presented an Interim Universalization Report. More information can be found on the 2007 Meeting of Experts page.
  • Gabon ratifes the BWC: the Depositaries have announced that Gabon (a signatory) has ratified the BWC, bringing the number of States Parties to 159. Gabon is the fourth state to join this year, following Kazakhstan, Montenegro, and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Launch of the Implementation Support Unit: all States Parties are invited to a reception to launch the ISU, to be held from 17:30 on Monday 20 August 2007 at the Bar Escargot (3rd floor, E Building, two floors directly above Room XVIII where the Meeting of Experts is being held). The reception is jointly hosted by the Chairman of the Meeting of Experts, the Director-General of UNOG, and the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
  • Highest ever level of participation in CBMs: The recent submission of a CBM by Nigeria makes a total of 57 so far this year. That is more than has ever been submitted before. The ISU is aware of several more still in the pipeline, so numbers are likely to increase further. For more information on who has submitted so far this year, see the BWC CBM Returns page, or alternatively for copies of the submissions, see the restricted access area.
  • Chairman addresses Conference on Disarmament. In a session of the CD devoted to chemical and biological weapons, Amb. Khan made a Statement to the Conference on Disarmament in his capacity as Chairman of the 2007 meetings of the Convention. Kazakhstan also made a Statement on its accession to the Convention.
  • CBMs published on secure website: 2007 CBM submissions received to date are now available for download in the restricted area of the website, with the exception of those from States Parties who have requested their CBMs not be published online.
  • Secure website operational: The Head of the ISU, Richard Lennane, wrote to each State Party on 27 June to announce the opening of the restricted area of the BWC website, as mandated by the Sixth Review Conference, and to issue each State Party with its username and password for accessing the restricted area. If you have not received this letter, which contains important information, please contact the ISU. A generic form of the letter (with passwords and other State Party-specific details removed) can be viewed here.
  • Implementation Support Unit operational: on 26 June the Director of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs wrote to BWC States Parties to inform them that the three staff members of the ISU have been appointed and the Unit is operational. An event to formally lauch the ISU will be held shortly.
  • OECD launches Best Practice Guidelines on Biosecurity for BRCs - designed to secure all types of biological materials (e.g. plant-, animal-, micro-organism- and human-derived) in proportion to the risk they present, the Guidelines on Biosecurity direct facilities within their purview to perform a risk assessment of the various biological materials they hold, assign a biosecurity risk level to each type of material and implement risk management practices to reduce the chance of their loss or theft.
  • CBM Reminder: the annual Confidence-building Measures (CBM) submissions are due on 15 April 2007. Please see the CBM page for details, or contact us for assistance.


News from 2006
  • BWC edition of Disarmament Forum now available: "Toward a Stronger BTWC", an edition of the UNIDIR publication Disarmament Forum devoted to the Sixth Review Conference is now available online.
  • Montenegro is State Party to BWC: the Depositaries have announced that Montenegro is a State Party to the BWC in succession to the former state of Serbia and Montenegro, with effect from 3 June 2006. This brings the number of States Parties to 156.
  • List of speakers open: the list of speakers for the General Debate (20-21 Nov) at the Sixth Review Conference is open for inscription. Delegations wishing to inscribe on the list are invited to contact the Secretariat.
  • Advance versions of working papers available: papers from the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Norway and a group of Latin American countries are available on the advance circulation page. More papers will be added as they are submitted.
  • Update of UN Secretary-General's CBW investigation mechanism: on 8 September the General Assembly adopted resolution 60/288 setting out the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Among other things, the Member States agreed to "encourage the Secretary-General to update the roster of experts and laboratories, as well as the technical guidelines and procedures, available to him for the timely and efficient investigation of alleged use".
  • New WHO biosecurity publication: the World Health Organization has released "Biorisk management: Laboratory biosecurity guidance", a document providing guidance on biosecurity within a biological laboratory and addressing its basic principles and best practices. WHO is inviting comments and feedback on the document.
  • First background paper released: the background information document showing the additional understandings and agreements reached by previous review conferences relating to each article of the Convention (BWC/CONF.VI/INF.1) has been issued in all languages and is available for download from the official documents section of the Sixth Review Conference page.
  • Deadline for submission of contributions for background papers: States Parties are requested to provide their contributions to the background information documents for the Sixth Review Conference (as decided by the Preparatory Committee - see paragraph 22 of the report) no later than 1 September 2006. Contributions should be sent to the Secretariat (see contacts).
  • Appointment of provisional Secretary-General: in accordance with the invitation from States Parties (see paragraph 26 of the report of the Preparatory Committee), the Secretary-General of the United Nations has nominated Mr Tim Caughley, Director of the Geneva Branch of the Department for Disarmament Affairs, as provisional Secretary-General of the Sixth Review Conference.


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