SEVENTH REVIEW CONFERENCE OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION ADOPTS FINAL DOCUMENT AND CONCLUDES SESSION
Final Document Includes Final Declaration and Decisions and Recommendations
22 December 2011
The Seventh Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction this afternoon concluded its three-week session by adopting a Final Document, which includes a Final Declaration on the articles of the Convention and a series of decisions and recommendations.
In the decisions and recommendations, the Review Conference retains the previous structures of annual Meetings of States Parties preceded by annual Meetings of Experts; makes cooperation and assistance, a review of developments in the field of science and technology, and strengthening national implementation all Standing Agenda Items to be discussed during the intersessional period; establishes a database system to facilitate requests for and offers of exchange of assistance and cooperation among States parties; establishes a sponsorship programme to increase the participation of developing States parties in the meetings of the intersessional programme; adopts revised reporting forms for all Confidence Building Measure submissions; requests States parties to promote universalization of the Convention through bilateral contacts and regional and multilateral activities; and renews the mandate of the Implementation Support Unit from 2012 to 2016.
Ambassador Idriss Jazairy of Algeria was named as President of the intersessional period in 2012. The Conference also agreed to hold the next meeting of Experts from 16 to 20 July 2012 and the next meeting of States parties from 10 to 14 December 2012. The Eighth Review Conference will be held in 2016.
Paul van den Ijssel, President of the Seventh Review Conference, in concluding remarks, thanked all parties for their cooperation, constructive participation and determination to succeed. He also noted the flexibility and vision shown by delegations that had allowed them to achieve the results of the Seventh Review Conference.
In concluding remarks, States parties thanked the President of the Conference and the Implementation Support Unit for their hard work. Many speakers noted that although the Conference had not achieved all it had wanted to there was much for the States parties to be proud of in the final document, including a sustained agenda in new three key areas; updated Confidence Building Measures; the sponsorship programme and the data bank.
Speaking this afternoon were representatives of Spain, Portugal, Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, India, the United States, Algeria, Nigeria, Australia on behalf of the Western Group, Romania on behalf of the East European Group, Greece, Japan, China, Mexico, Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, France, the United Kingdom, India, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.
The Biological Weapons Convention opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element – along with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention – in the international community's efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Biological Weapons Convention is the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons. It currently has 165 States parties, with a further 12 having signed but not yet ratified it.
Final Document of the Seventh Review Conference
The Final Document includes sections on the organization and work of the Conference, the Final Declaration and decisions and recommendations
In the Final Declaration, the Conference reaffirms that under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention and affirms the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time. It decides to include in their 2012 – 2015 intersessional programme a standing agenda item on developments in the field of science and technology related to the Convention. The Conference emphasizes that States must take all necessary safety and security measures to protect human populations and the environment, including animals and plants, when carrying out destruction and/or diversion of agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery as prohibited by Article I of the Convention. Effective national export controls and other appropriate measures were called for to ensure that only authorized direct and indirect transfers relevant to the Convention took place. The Conference calls upon States parties to adopt legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures, including penal legislation, to enhance domestic implementation of the Convention, ensure the safety and security of microbial or other biological agents or toxins in laboratories, facilities, and during transportation and to prevent unauthorized access to and removal of such agents or toxins.
The Conference recognises the urgent need to increase the number of States parties participating in confidence building measures and calls upon all States parties to participate annually, and also urges those States parties, in a position to do so, to provide technical assistance and support, through training for instance, to those States parties requesting it to assist them to complete their annual confidence building measures submissions. The Conference invites the Security Council to consider any complaint lodged under Article VI and initiate investigation of the complain, and to inform each State party of the results of any investigation. The Conference highlights the importance of pursuing initiatives in the area of health and security issues through effective cooperation and sustainable partnerships, and recognises that capabilities to detect, quickly and effectively respond to, and recover from, the alleged use of a biological or toxin weapon need to be in place before they are required. The Conference appeals to all States parties to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare, to fulfil their obligations under that Protocol and urges all States not yet party to the Protocol to ratify or accede to it without further delay. The Conference acknowledges that the 1925 Geneva Protocol, and the Convention complement each other and calls upon those States parties that continue to maintain pertinent reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to withdraw those reservations, without delay.
The Conference urges all States parties possessing advanced biotechnology to adopt positive measures to promote technology transfer and international cooperation on an equal and non-discriminatory basis, particularly with countries less advanced in this field, while promoting the basic objectives of the Convention, as well as ensuring that the promulgation of science and technology is fully consistent with the peaceful object and purpose of the Convention. The Conference urges States parties in a position to do so to continue supporting, directly and indirectly, capacity-building in States parties in need of assistance in the fields of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases and related research; and calls upon States parties to promote the development and production of vaccines and drugs to treat infectious disease through international cooperation and, as appropriate, public-private partnerships. The Conference decides that the Eighth Review Conference shall be held in Geneva not later than 2016 and should review the operation of the Convention. The Conference underlines that the objectives of the Convention will not be fully realized as long as there remains even a single State not party that could possess or acquire biological weapons. The Conference urges States parties to take action to persuade non-parties to accede to the Convention without delay, and welcomes regional initiatives that would lead to wider accession and adherence to the Convention. The Conference welcomes the decision of the Sixth Review Conference that as well as the five languages listed in this Article, Arabic shall be considered an official language for the purposes of any meetings of the States parties and other formal communications concerning the operation of the Convention.
Decisions and Recommendations
In the decisions and recommendations, the Conference decides to retain the previous structures of annual Meetings of States parties preceded by annual Meetings of Experts and to continue to allocate ten days each year to the intersessional programme. The following topics shall be Standing Agenda Items, which will be addressed at meetings of both the Meeting of Experts and Meeting of States parties in every year from 2012 to 2015: cooperation and assistance, with a particular focus on strengthening cooperation and assistance under Article X; review of developments in the field of science and technology related to the Convention; and strengthening national implementation. The Conference decides that the following topics will be addressed under the Standing Agenda Item on cooperation and assistance: reports by States parties on their implementation of Article X; challenges and obstacles to developing international cooperation, assistance and exchange in the biological sciences and technology; education, training, exchange and twinning programmes and other means of developing human resources in the biological sciences and technology relevant to the implementation of the Convention, particularly in developing countries.
The Conference decides that the following topics will be addressed under the Standing Agenda Item on review of developments in the field of science and technology related to the Convention: new science and technology developments that have potential for uses contrary to the provisions of the Convention; possible measures for strengthening national biological risk management; voluntary codes of conduct and other measures to encourage responsible conduct by scientists, academia and industry; education and awareness-raising about risks and benefits of life sciences and biotechnology. The Conference decides that the following topics will be addressed under the Standing Agenda Item on strengthening national implementation: a range of specific measures for the full and comprehensive implementation of the Convention, especially Articles III and IV; ways and means to enhance national implementation, sharing best practices and experiences; regional and sub-regional cooperation that can assist national implementation of the Convention; national, regional and international measures to improve laboratory biosafety and security of pathogens and toxins; and any potential further measures, as appropriate, relevant for implementation of the Convention.
The Conference decides to establish a database system to facilitate requests for and offers of exchange of assistance and cooperation among States parties. The Implementation Support Unit will establish and administer the database, open to all States parties, where these requests and offers will be stored. In order to support and increase the participation of developing States parties in the meetings of the intersessional programme, the Conference decides to establish a sponsorship programme, funded by voluntary contributions from States parties in a position to provide them. The sponsorship programme will be administered by the Implementation Support Unit in consultation with the Chair and Vice-chairs of the Meeting of States parties.
The Conference decides to adopt the revised reporting forms in Annex I as the basis for all Confidence Building Measure submissions from States parties and to consider during the 2012–2015 intersessional programme how to enable fuller participation in the Confidence Building Measures. The Conference requests States parties to promote universalization of the Convention through bilateral contacts with States not party and to report, as appropriate, on their activities at annual meetings of States parties. The Conference decides to renew the mandate of the Implementation Support Unit for the period from 2012 to 2016 and in addition to the tasks mandated by the Sixth Review Conference, the Implementation Support Unit will establish and administer the database for assistance requests and offers, and support, as appropriate, the implementation by the States parties of the decisions and recommendations of this Review Conference.
Statements on Budget
JAVIER GIL CATALINA (Spain) said that the budget for the intersessional programme for the period 2012 to 2016 was almost double that of the previous intersessional period.
RICHARD LENNANE, Secretary-General of Conference, noted that he had submitted a paper on 21 September providing details of the budget for the interssessional meetings to be held next year which indicated that the differences that would occur were due to exchange rate variances. There were no new additions and therefore the increase in costs was due mostly to exchange rate variances. The Secretary-General said that in order to reduce budgetary expenditures, it would be necessary to cut items, such as a three day meeting rather than a five day meeting of States parties.
MARIO DUARTE (Portugal) noted the increased estimate of the budget from $ 700,000 to $1,400,000 and said it was difficult for him to ask his capital to agree to a net increase of over half a million dollars based on the exchange rate, and asked the Conference to agree on a solution to that problem.
RICHARD LENNANE, Secretary-General of Conference, said that in order to understand the costs associated with the meetings there was a need to compare like for like, for example, expenditures in 2010 with expenditures in 2011.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, President of the Seventh Review Conference on Biological Weapons, said he understood States’ budgetary concerns as all were living in times of financial difficulties. He made it clear the budget was not being increased, other than through inflationary and currency factors. The President read out the change to paragraph 38 of the Decisions and Recommendations as follows: “Noting that these estimated costs were prepared on exactly the same basis as the estimated costs for 2007 – 2010 intersessional programme and therefore represented zero real growth with any nominal increase solely due to currency and inflationary factors.”
The Conference adopted the budget. The Conference then adopted the Final Document, which includes the Final Declaration and the decisions and recommendations.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, President of the Seventh Review Conference on Biological Weapons, thanked all parties for their cooperation, constructive participation and determination to succeed. He also noted the flexibility and vision shown by delegations that had allowed them to achieve the results of the Seventh Review Conference. The results of this session had been good not only for the States parties but, as the capital of disarmament, for Geneva. The President concluded by saying that delegates would meet again in 2012 and had a lot of important work before them.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said that Algeria expressed its deep gratitude for the tremendous efforts made by the President of the Seventh Review Conference. Algeria said there could have been more stringent and bold measures in the Final Declaration on security cooperation and socio-economic cooperation on biological weapons, a verification scheme and strengthening the Implementation Support Unit. However, Algeria noted that the political situation was not yet right to shoulder such initiatives due to the differences among the countries of the North and the South. Algeria would have liked to have a focus on contractual commitments to be carried out in good faith. Algeria stressed that it was in favour of the effective strengthening of the Convention through a multilateral mechanism that would be legally binding.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement had maintained an active and constructive attitude during the Review Conference. The Non-Aligned Movement welcomed the comprehensive review of the operation and implementation of all provisions under the Convention that had been carried out during the Conference. They were pleased that the strengthening of cooperation referred to under Article 10 would be subject to ongoing review, and hoped specific measures would be adopted as a result of that review. The Non-Aligned Movement would continue to help in as constructive a manner as possible during the inter-sessional period during 2012.
SYNDOOPH PAEBI ENDONI (Nigeria) said that the Nigerian delegation was disappointed that the call for the establishment of a fellowship programme had not found its way into the Final Document and urged that the doors should remain open to such a programme during the intersessional period so that common ground could be found in this area. A fellowship programme designed to build capacity in developing countries on national implementation should be a key aspect of the Convention and Nigeria urged all States parties to reconsider this issue.
PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia), speaking on behalf of the Western Group, thanked the President of the Review Conference for shepherding the complex and sensitive negotiations to a consensus outcome. He looked forward to the intersessional process which would help address the security and health concerns facing the world this century.
DANIELA BLEOANCA (Romania), speaking on behalf of the East European Group, thanked the President and the Bureau for all their hard work and noted that the Implementation Support Unit deserved thanks for its hard work and looked forward to working with the Unit in the intersessional period.
IOANNIS MALLIKOURTIS (Greece) thanked the President for his efforts to address budgetary concerns, at a time when the impact of the financial crisis was a daily reality in Greece. The solution arrived at today was logical and a good compromise.
LAURA KENNEDY (United States) said that the President’s unwavering commitment over the last year and the work of the three-person Implementation Support Unit were highly appreciated by the United States. Although the Conference had not achieved all it had wanted to, there was much for the States parties to be proud of, for example: a sustained agenda in three new key areas; updated Confidence Building Measures; the sponsorship programme; the data bank and the two new Vice Chairs. The United States concluded by echoing the wishes of many colleagues that in 2012 all involved in disarmament in Geneva would take inspiration from this Conference.
MARI AMANO (Japan) said Japan was pleased that a consensus had been achieved and thanked the President and staff members for their tireless efforts during the Conference. Japan continued to make upmost efforts to implement and strengthen the Convention.
WANG XIAONING (China) said that the Chinese delegation wished to express its satisfaction at the results of the Conference and thanked the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole and the Chairman of the Committee of Credentials. China also congratulated the Ambassador of Algeria on his new leadership role.
MARIA ANTONIETA JAQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) said that the success of the Conference’s work was reflected in the final documents and although the Mexican delegation had desired a more ambitious text, the final version was a modest step forward. Mexico expressed its concern that the Conference had not been able to endorse the results of the 2007 - 2010 review and said this was a step backward rather than a step forward and hoped that in five years it would be possible to overcome all obstacles in this area.
SHAHROKH SHAHKERIAN (Iran) said that the founders of the Biological Weapons Convention had hoped to reach a comprehensive international verifiable instrument to totally ban another category of weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical weapons. Iran noted with serious concern that the final extended deadlines of 29 April 2012 to destroy chemical weapons might not be met. Iran also noted that without having an explicit timeline in the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention, there would be an immense challenge for the viability of that Convention as well as its integrity.
KAM WOON-AN (Republic of Korea) said that the Republic of Korea appreciated the leadership of the President of the Conference and noted that many disparate voices and opinions had been expressed and incorporated during the Conference. Now was the time for States parties to focus on implementing what had been agreed upon in the Conference.
VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) thanked the President of the Conference for his work and all delegations who had contributed to the work of the Conference. The Review Conference on Biological and Toxin Weapons in 2011 was the most important step in multilateral disarmament. All States parties were able to achieve consensus due to multilateral agreement and consolidation and this was a very good achievement and provided an excellent example for the coming year in terms of not only banning biological weapons but the entire disarmament exercise.
ERIC DANON (France) congratulated the President and the Implementation Support Unit on their hard work and said that France was pleased with the Final Document. The text was balanced because it incorporated all sides and opinions and had not fallen into the trap of confrontation among blocks of States. France looked forward to working together with all countries on implementation.
JO ADAMSON (United Kingdom) said that it had been dismayed about the discussions on the Implementation Support Unit from this morning but was pleased about the agreements achieved in the decisions and recommendations section of the document. The United Kingdom appreciated the efforts of civil society partners who supported the Conference in organizing off site debates. The President of the Conference had been an excellent guide and leader and the United Kingdom thanked him for his efforts.
SUJATA MEHTA (India) thanked the high professional skill and commitment ofthe President of the Conference in finding consensus and solutions over the last few days. India also thanked the Secretariat for all their efforts.
MOHAMED SAEED KHAMEES AL YAMMAHI (United Arab Emirates) said the efforts of the President had allowed the Conference to achieve positive results. The United Arab Emirates also thanked the Indonesian delegation which had worked hard to ensure the success of the work of the Conference.
SHAFQAT ALI KHAN (Pakistan) thanked the President and the Implementation Support Unit for their work. Although the outcome had not incorporated all the wishes of States parties, it was a document that the Conference could be proud of. Pakistan noted that in the times of deep differences in the room, the most important moment was the expression of faith that all States showed in multilateralism and in the Convention itself.
For use of the information media; not an official record