SEVENTH REVIEW CONFERENCE OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION OPENS
States Parties Hear Video Message from Secretary-General of the United Nations, Begin General Debate
5 December 2011
The Seventh Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction this morning opened its three-week session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva,
In a video message to the Conference, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, highlighted that the Biological Weapons Convention was a critical instrument because it ensured that science and technology could be developed safely and securely and provided a chance to respond to emerging risks.
Jarmo Sareva, Director of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, opened the Review Conference, saying that the Convention was the legal embodiment of the international community’s determination to exclude forever the possibility of disease being used as a weapon.
Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel of the Netherlands was confirmed as President of the Conference. He said that the coming three weeks would be busy as a number of important topics were on the table.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Conference adopted the agenda as recommended by the Preparatory Committee, the final report of the Preparatory Committee, and the Rules of Procedure. Requests from Cameroon and Israel to participate as observers were approved, as were requests from the African Union, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Criminal Police Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the World Health Organization, and the World Organization for Animal Health. The Conference then elected the Vice-Presidents of the Conference and Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Committee of the Whole, the Drafting Committee, and the Credentials Committee.
Before starting its general debate, the Conference was addressed by two special representatives of the global scientific community, Professor Indira Nath, a specialist in immunology of infectious disease and Esther Ng, a PhD candidate in genomic medicine and statistics at Oxford University.
During the general debate, States said that universal adherence to and further strengthening of the Convention would make a significant contribution to advancing further in the field of arms regulation, non proliferation and disarmament. The Convention on Biological Weapons was a key element of the global regime on the non proliferation of the weapons of mass annihilation, the disarmament process, and the strengthening of security and stability. The Confidence Building Measures which had been politically agreed upon in order to increase transparency among States parties continued to be of great importance as speakers encouraged all States parties who had not yet done so to participate in the annual exchange of Confidence Building Measures. There was a need to continue discussions in the next intersessional period on the further enhancement of quantitative and qualitative aspects of the Confidence Building Measures bearing in mind the latest scientific and technical developments.
Speakers said that States parties should continue to improve national implementation measures, taking into account their domestic situations. There was concern that it was becoming increasingly easy to access bacteriological weapons compared to those required to manufacture other weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear and chemical weapons. All States were potentially at risk; therefore all States should share the burden of struggling against the proliferation of bacteriological weapons. National plans for raising awareness among the scientific community should be more frequent and there should be more information exchange as well among the States parties to strengthen the effectiveness of various measures. Speakers emphasized the importance of scientific and technological cooperation, as laid down in article X of the Convention. States parties noted that the issues for consideration in the Review Conference should not be viewed as representing single regional constituencies only but as substantive cross-cutting topics in their own rights where advances would be in everyone’s interest and where consensus was possible.
The following States took the floor: Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and other States parties to the Convention, Kazakhstan, Belarus on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Burundi, Mozambique, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Malaysia and China.
The Biological Weapons Convention 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, opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. The Biological Weapons Convention 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.
The meeting of the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference will resume at 3 p.m. when the general debate will continue.
JARMO SAREVA, Director of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, opened the Seventh Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. The Biological Weapons Convention was the legal embodiment of the international community’s determination to exclude forever the possibility of disease being used as a weapon. As such, it formed one of the three fundamental pillars of the collective struggle against weapons of mass destruction. It was a treaty crucial to security, and the Conference was crucial to the Treaty. The States parties had three short weeks in which to review all aspects of the operation of the Convention and to decide on what must be done to maintain and strengthen its effectiveness, and thus reduce the risk of biological agents and toxins being used as weapons. It was an important and challenging task, and there was no time to waste.
Mr. Sareva said delegates would recall that the Preparatory Committee held in April this year decided to recommend to the Conference that Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel of the Netherlands preside over the Conference. It was so decided. Mr. Sareva congratulated Mr. van den Ijssel on his election and wished him every success.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, (Netherlands), President of the Seventh Review Conference, said that the coming three weeks would be busy as a number of important topics were on the table. The Conference adopted the agenda as recommended by the Preparatory Committee. The Conference then turned to Item IV, submission of the final report of the Preparatory Committee, which was held in Geneva from 13 to 15 April 2011 and successfully considered and agreed upon the necessary preparatory arrangements for the Review Conference. The Report of the Preparatory Committee was adopted. The Conference then adopted the Rules of Procedure. The Conference agreed to the requests received from Cameroon and Israel to participate as observers. The Conference also agreed to the requests of the following specialized agencies and international organizations to participate as observer agencies: the African Union, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Criminal Police Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the World Health Organization, and the World Organization for Animal Health. The Conference then elected the Vice-Presidents of the Conference and Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Committee of the Whole, the Drafting Committee, and the Credentials Committee.
The following Office Holders were elected: for the Committee of the Whole, Ambassador Desra Percaya of Indonesia as Chairman; for the Drafting Committee Judit Koromi, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary; and for the Credentials Committee, Mario Duarte of Portugal. The following States were appointed to the Credentials Committee: Ireland, Italy and Serbia. The Conference then appointed Richard Lennane, Head of the Implementation Support Unit at the United Nations, as Secretary-General of the Conference.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking in a video message, highlighted that the Biological Weapons Convention was a critical instrument. It helped to ensure that science and technology could be developed safely and securely. This Review Conference was a chance to respond to emerging risks. Cooperation could be boosted and the nightmare of biological warfare avoided. The Secretary-General asked the States parties to spare no efforts and wished them an efficient conference.
Statements from the Global Scientific Community
INDIRA NATH, Professor on the Immunology of Infectious Diseases, said that the Biological Weapons Conference was an important legal norm that promoted the fundamental social responsibility of science. She underscored the numerous promises of science with two examples in terms of the research that she had done, notably on the immunology of leprosy and tuberculosis, which demonstrated that man’s health and survival could be jeopardized by man’s disturbance of immunology. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Science report of 2010, pharmaceutical industry turnover had grown to USD 19 billion by 2008 and India had ranked third after the United States and Japan in terms of the volume of production. In 2003, the Government of India had created IBSA, a trilateral cooperation with India, Brazil and South Africa, to create partnerships on nano-based technology among science ministries. Ms. Nath said that there should be an expansion on scientific cooperation around the world while at the same time preventing its misuse. In its efforts to engage the scientific community to strengthen the Biological Weapons Conference, States parties could strengthen and expand their connections to the scientific community, notably bio safety and the responsibility to protect the health of workers and the broader community.
Science could not operate in a vacuum as evidenced by a long recognition of the ethical impacts of its work. This viewpoint was demonstrated by the recent statement from the 2010 conference in Singapore on Research and Integrity which highlighted the ethical responsibilities of researchers. A new project was being undertaken by the Inter-Academy Conference, a global network launched in 1993 of more than 100 scientific academies that advised citizens on critical global issues related to science and health. Science academies could and should play a leading role in promoting research integrity and good behaviour. Concerning life sciences, there was a growing recognition that the rapid advances in this area provided not only opportunities but risks. An example of this was the establishment of the Bio-security Working Group of the Inter-Academy Conference which focused on education and awareness-raising to help mitigate the risks on the potential misuses in the development of life sciences. An engagement between the scientific community and States parties was critical and provided a further opportunity to promote responsible behavior in science.
ESTHER NG, Singaporean PhD Candidate in genomic medicine and statistics at Oxford University, winner of the Gloal Essay Competition, made a presentation about the new threats that had appeared in bio-security. The maintenance of a secure environment was the responsibility of scientists as well as governments. Junior scientists were trained in biotechnology and this enabled to identify many bacteria and risks for bioterrorism. Many illnesses were common in tropical countries, and it was key to disseminate the cure against them. Scientists had to explore novel ways to develop quick solutions against bacteriological misuse. Sharing of data on bacteria with high potential for misuse was crucial in cooperation. Hypotheses of biological attacks were hard to study because one could not do tests. Thus the scientists worked with mathematical models to calculate potential risks. Rapid advances had brought about progress but also threats, and it was key that junior scientists furthered the cause of bio-security.
RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Group of Non-Aligned Movement and other States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, congratulated the President on his election. The XVI Non-Alignment Movement Ministerial Conference held in Bali in May 2011 reaffirmed that the possibility of any use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins as weapons should be completely excluded, and that such use would be repugnant to the conscience of humankind. The Ministers recognized the particular importance of strengthening the Convention through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding Protocol and universal adherence to the Convention. They reiterated their call to promote international cooperation for peaceful purposes, including scientific technical exchange, and to adopt concrete actions in this regard such as those contained in the Plan of Action to implement Article X submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement States parties at the Sixth Review Conference, and the additional Non-Aligned Movement States parties proposal on a mechanism for the full implementation of Article X of the Convention presented more recently.
These views expressed by the Non-Aligned Movement Ministers were of utmost importance and of primary concern for the countries in the Biological Weapons Convention. They reiterated their deep concern about the potential use and, or threat of use of biological agents and toxins as an instrument of war and terror. In this regard, they felt that there was a great necessity and urgency for the States parties of the Biological Weapons Convention to work towards strengthening and improving the effectiveness and implementation of this Convention so that together the concern could be fully addressed. Universal adherence to and further strengthening of the Convention would make a significant contribution to advancing further in the field of arms regulation, non proliferation and disarmament on the basis of universal, multilateral, non-discriminatory and transparent negotiations with the goal of reaching general and complete disarmament under strict international control.
The Non-Aligned Movement and other States parties expressed their hope for a successful conference in 2012, to be attended by all of the Middle East, on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by the States of the region. They were of the view that the general thrust of the Review Conference should be the review of the operation and implementation of all articles of the Convention and its preamble, including consideration of the work of the meetings held during the inter sessional period. They wanted Article X’s implementation to be regularly on the agenda during the inter-sessional period. Under this agenda item, States parties would be able to inform about and discuss successes and difficulties experienced in the implementation of Article X. Compliance by all States Parties with their obligations was a central element. The Biological Weapons Convention was established with the main objective of the total elimination of bacteriological and toxin weapons but it had yet to ascertain the achievement of this goal. This was an issue that had to be revisited. The Final Declaration of this Review Conference should underscore the importance of negotiations of a legally binding mechanism to comprehensively strengthen the implementation of the Convention, including verification provisions. This was essential to strengthen the Convention and address compliance concerns.
KAIRAT UMAROV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, said that the Republic of Kazakhstan regarded the Convention on Biological Weapons as one of the key elements of the global regime on the non proliferation of the weapons of mass annihilation, the disarmament process, and the strengthening of security and stability. Kazakhstan was fully committed to the aims and objections of the Convention whose provisions had been incorporated in their entirety in the national legislation. They defended steadfastly the universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention. It was regrettable that there remained around 30 countries around the world who had refrained from committing themselves to the prohibition of biological weapons. There remained another burning issue - that of the international verification of the microbiological industries of various countries of the world to make sure that they had not been retooled for military production. Setting up of an effective verification mechanism would help strengthen mutual trust and security. At the same time the strengthening of the Convention mechanisms should not limit the right of every State to develop its biotechnologies for peaceful purposes. No one had any doubts as to the existence of real aspirations among some terrorist groups to acquire biological materials, equipment and technologies.
The Republic of Kazakhstan was in full compliance with resolution 1540 of the United Nations Security Council and with one of its central demands to set up an effective system of export controls. Kazakhstan had speeded up the process of adhesion to the main regimes of nonproliferation and controls of export. Last year they applied for membership in the Australia Group (An informal association that is involved in the application of export restrictions to materials used in the manufacture of chemical weapons). All checklists of the Australia Group as well as those of the Biological Weapons Convention had been fully incorporated in their national legislation. Kazakhstan had unilaterally closed down the Aral biological proving ground, the Stepnogorsky facility and reoriented institutions and industrial plants that were manufacturing dual purpose products.
MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said that being guided by the goal of a safer and more secure world, the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization had reaffirmed their commitment to full compliance with all obligations under the Convention and foremost the commitment to never under any circumstance develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain this class of weapon as well as biological agents and toxins designated for use for hostile purposes. The implementation of the decisions of the Sixth Review Conference, including the convening of annual intercessional meetings with the participation of an expert community, constituted a solid basis for the adoption of a balanced and substantive final document for the Conference. The universalization of the Convention was a priority task. Coherent and well-directed efforts were needed to involve all States into the Convention without exception. The countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization called upon all States parties who were not a party to the Convention to join it at the earliest possible date.
At the present time the development of biological science and related threats and risks had provided increasing grounds for the elaboration of workable measures aimed at verification of the Convention. The elaboration of the legally binding mechanism for verification of compliance of the Convention was the most effective way to strengthen the regime for the prohibition of biological and toxic weapons and to raise confidence in the Convention’s compliance among all State parties. Confidence building measures were an important instrument to ensure transparency in the biological domain. There was a need to continue discussions in the next intersession period on the further enhancement of quantitative and qualitative aspects of the confidence building measures bearing in mind the latest scientific and technical developments. While life sciences and biotechnology were developing rapidly, it was necessary to focus more closely on the influence of scientific and technological advances on the Convention regime. It would also be useful to consider possible measures to improve the mechanisms of Article V (consultations) and Article VI (investigations).
PIERRE CLAVER NDAYIRAGIJE (Burundi) said that Burundi became the newest State party to the Biological Weapons Convention on 18 October 2011, and it was very pleased to be joining the family of States parties. From the international point of view, the Review Conference was a crucial twenty-first century forum because it promoted international peace and security. Biological weapons could be used to destroy livestock and the economic consequences of this could be terrible. Since biological weapons could be acquired by non state actors, it was essential that the international community work together on this issue. The Convention was critical and could protect human beings and agriculture, it was also very important for the promotion of health. Burundi was not protected from a biological attack and security at the national level this was also important for regional security. In order to reach the objective of security, Burundi would need the help of other States parties. Burundi would welcome a regional workshop which would contribute to raising awareness regionally of all these issues. He thanked the States that had supported Burundi in their accession, in particular the United Kingdom.
ELIAS JAIME ZIMBA (Mozambique) said that Mozambique was cognizant of the fact that the current Review Conference was taking place at a moment characterized by astonishing scientific progress in biological sciences and technology. Nevertheless, these benefits for humanity that might be applied to advances in the fields of medicine, health, agriculture and environment, were also accompanied by a pernicious ‘by-product’. It was becoming increasingly and relatively easy to access bacteriological weapons compared to those required to manufacture other weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear and chemical weapons. If an incident occurred involving the use of bacteriological weapons in a warfare scenario or in a context of terrorist actions, Africa would stand the most vulnerable continent and the least prepared to cope with their dreadful impact. All States were potentially at risk; therefore all States should share the burden of struggling against the proliferation of bacteriological weapons. Mozambique cherished the existing regimes of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and for that matter had recognized the existing complementarity between this Convention and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The ratification of the Convention had allowed Mozambique to close the cycle of ratifications of the three fundamental pillars that had upheld international efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, thus complying with United Nations resolution 1540.
The success of the Convention rested largely on effective compliance, verification and on comprehensive and effective universalizaiton. On average, two States parties had ratified the Convention each year since 1986, which reflected both the growing importance of the Convention and the level of commitment by States to engage in more vigorous actions aimed at promoting universal membership to the Convention. The implementation of article X should be strengthened to give way to consensus on practical steps for the promotion of an effective international cooperation on the implementation of various critical aspects of the Convention, including the facilitation of economic and technological development. Everything should be done to discourage the exploration of loopholes in cooperation in the field of peaceful biological activities to pursue objectives that were contrary to the spirit and letter of the Convention.
ERIC DANON (France) said that the risk of biological weapons was still a matter of great concern. The diffuse nature of the threat had increased. France had four priorities during the Review Conference. Successful experiences in some countries would be looked at for implementation at the national level. France proposed a working paper on this. National plans for raising awareness among the scientific community should also be more frequent. There should also be more exchange of information among the States parties to strengthen the effectiveness of various measures. States parties should intensify their meetings between annual sessions because one session per year was not enough anymore. Multilateral and bilateral work should thus be increased. Action should be undertaken to reach global adherence to the Convention. Recent major pandemics had shown that they could affect all countries, not just States parties. It was therefore an issue that concerned everyone. Thus France had approached among others Tanzania for them to adhere to the Convention. France encouraged all States to accede to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons at war or to lift their reservations. It was an old tool but it kept all its relevance.
ROLF NIKEL (Germany) said this Seventh Review Conference was an important opportunity to revisit and reaffirm the Convention in its totality. This Review Conference would help build consensus on the need for States parties to engage in an even broader range of activities if they were to prohibit and prevent illegitimate purposes for modern biology. It was necessary for States parties to have a comprehensive idea of what was being done under their jurisdiction and how to control it. The Review Conference should emphasis the need to further develop the Biological Weapons Convention into a more robust regime. Germany had fully transferred and implemented all obligations resulting from the Convention into national law. Germany’s laws and regulations were fully listed in the legislative database of the Committee and had proved to be useful.
The Confidence Building Measures which had been politically agreed upon in order to increase transparency among States parties continued to be of great importance and Germany strongly encouraged all States parties who had not yet done so to participate in the annual exchange of Confidence Building Measures. Currently there was no consensus on the issue of verification; however, Germany considered this issue to be a central element of a complete and effective disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The Seventh Review Conference should address compliance concerns to enable the Conference to formulate recommendations that would guide work during the next intercessional process. Scientific and technological cooperation, as laid down in article X of the Convention, was of great importance. Germany was pleased to report on a multitude of activities in this field from university projects of cooperation in the field of biotechnology to establishing close relations between the major German federal funded research organizations and national Academies of Sciences in several countries. Germany had not interpreted the requirements as set out in Article X in a narrow sense and shared the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s view that assistance and cooperation should include activities financed abroad as well as domestic activities. Education was the basis for future scientific and technological information and material exchange and without a broad basis of well-trained personnel, sustainable development in the life sciences would not be possible.
SUJATA MEHTA (India) said that India was committed to improving the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention and strengthening its implementation. India also supported efforts for its universalization. It was important that all decisions of the Review Conference were taken by consensus. This Review Conference was an important opportunity to review the operation of the preamble and the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention, while providing an opportunity to agree on measures to strengthen the Convention and ensure its full implementation. This was also necessary in view of the new challenges to international peace and security emanating from proliferation trends, including the threat posed by terrorists or other non-state actors seeking access to biological agents or toxins for terrorist purposes. The Review Conference should send a clear signal of the collective determination of all States parties to address these common challenges, especially bio-terrorism.
India was not opposed to renewing the mandate of the Implementation Support Unit at this Review Conference. Established United Nations Principles for its bodies such as equitable geographic distribution, rotation and impartiality should be followed while maintaining the efficiency of the Secretariat as an administrative tool to assist States parties strictly in accordance with the mandate of the Review Conference. Article XII of the Convention stated that the review of the Convention shall take into account any new scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention. There was considerable convergence of views among States parties on the need for focused and continuous review of science and technology developments that had implications for the Convention. India had presented a Working Paper to the Review Conference on this subject.
ALISTAIR BURT (United Kingdom) said that the United Kingdom had a keen sense of responsibility for this Convention as the original proposal for a separate ban on biological weapons was made by the United Kingdom in 1968. The Convention was often seen as focusing purely on preventing the production or acquisition of biological weapons but it was also relevant to the field of peaceful bacteriological activities and cooperation. Steps that had been taken to promote and build capacities to combat infectious disease of humans, animals and plants, had also provided a stronger national, regional and international ability to provide support and assistance to any State exposed to danger as a result of a violation of this Convention. It was important to examine how best to engage with organizations such as the World Health Organization and others to enhance such capabilities and achieve the optimum practical response.
The United Kingdom urged non-States parties from the Middle East - Egypt, Israel and Syria - to accede to or ratify the Convention or take significant steps in that direction which could help build confidence in the region and support the concept of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone. The United Kingdom had three key aims of this Review Conference: a new substantive programme of annual intercessional meetings, an appropriate level of intercessional decision-making, and a regular review process for scientific and technological developments. There was an opportunity to agree on a substantive new work programme that went beyond what had gone before and to improve the Confidence Building Measures, an important tool in building confidence in compliance. These issues for consideration should not be viewed as representing single regional constituencies only but as substantive cross-cutting topics in their own rights where advances would be in everyone’s interest and where consensus was possible.
OLEXANDR ALEKSANDROVYCH (Ukraine) said that Ukraine was in a position to join common efforts aimed at prevention of and response to challenges and threats of today’s world. As one of the co-authors of the Biological Weapons Convention, Ukraine continuously stressed the important role of this indispensable instrument in the sphere of disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Ukraine also considered the Convention to be a proper multilateral basis for developing international cooperation in the field of bio-safety and bio-security, including scientific and technological cluster.
Effective response in case of alleged use of a biological or toxin agents remained to be one of the priorities of the international community. Strengthening regional and international cooperation gained particular importance in terms of prevention of bio-threats as well as providing timely assistance to the affected countries.
Ukraine would like to reconfirm its interest in developing further cooperation in realization of a number of concrete project proposals in the filed of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment of infectious diseases, submitted by Ukraine during the meeting of States parties in 2009. Implementation of these projects was especially vital as an integral part of the complex programme on preparation for the UEFA European Football Championship to be held in Ukraine and Poland in 2012.
ZAHID RASTAM (Malaysia) said that since the last Review Conference there had been vast advancements in science and technology related to bio-sciences and it was increasingly publically accessible through the medium of modern information technology. Biological and toxic weapons continued to pose a threat to the international community. Malaysia supported the efforts by the international community to press for universal adherence to the Convention and compliance with its provisions. Much more could and should be done to strengthen the effective implementation of the Convention through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding Protocol and universal adherence to the Convention. Malaysia was currently finalizing its Biological Weapons Bill which would be part of the country’s legislative framework to ensure effective implementation of the Convention. Malaysia was committed to adhere to and implement its obligations under the Convention and had undertaken to facilitate and would participate in possible exchanges of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes provided under Article X of the Convention.
Malaysia believed the Confidence Building Measures were a useful tool in enhancing transparency and building confidence among States parties. The Government of Malaysia continued to fully adhere to its commitment to the Convention, including the Submission of Confidence Building Measures. Malaysia hoped that this Review Conference would produce new ideas to increase submission of Confidence Building Measures by States parties and supported the proposal to amend these Confidence Building Measures to ensure their practicality while at the same time increasing their simplicity to ease the reporting burden on States parties. Malaysia believed that in future their intercessional work programme should pay close attention to the development of science and technology and encompass the annual and systematic review on this issue for the benefit of the international community.
HE YAFEI (China) said that the complexity of the current international security situation was unprecedented. Science and technology were progressing rapidly. The far-reaching implications of the international financial crisis had further emerged. Traditional and non-traditional security threats were intertwined. The interdependency and clashes among countries in the field of security were increasing at the same time. The Convention had encountered many challenges. The effectiveness of the Convention needed to be improved and the non-traditional security threats such as bio-terrorism, bio-safety and security were increasingly prominent. The threat of illegally acquiring and using biological agents by terrorists was on the rise. The frequent spread of pandemics threatened global health and security.
China believed that States parties should continue to improve national implementation measures, taking into account their domestic situations. Also, Confidence-Building Measures were an important means to enhance trust among States parties. The low rate of submission was the most pressing challenge to Confidence Building Mechanisms. China would engage in discussions on how to improve Confidence Building Mechanisms in an open and constructive manner. Promoting international exchanges and cooperation in the peaceful uses of bio-technology remained an important pillar of the Convention. Also, advancing the inter-sessional process was a realistic approach to promoting and strengthening the multilateral biological arms control efforts under the new circumstances.
In order to effectively implement the Convention, China had established an inter-agency coordinating mechanism with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the national focus point.
For use of the information media; not an official record