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Biological Weapons Convention to hold meeting on Dec 5.

Representatives of the 165 States parties to the

Biological Weapons Convention will meet in Geneva from December 5-22 for the

seventh five-yearly review of the treaty.

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 Seventh Review Conference will see States parties review the operation

of the Biological Weapons Convention, consider the inter-sessional work held

since the last review in 2006, address relevant developments in science and

technology, and discuss future activities," said the UN office in Geneva.

The President-designate of the Seventh Review Conference, Ambassador Paul

van den IJssel of the Netherlands, said that the Biological Weapons Convention

"was created to ensure that the life sciences and biotechnology are used only

for the benefit of humanity. Negotiated 40 years ago, at the height of the

Cold War, the Biological Weapons Convention is an elegant and concise piece of

international law which matches a broad and absolute prohibition of biological

and toxin weapons with protections for the development of the peaceful

applications of biological science and technology."

Noting that the treaty has overcome a difficult past, he said "for the

first time in over a decade, the Biological Weapons Convention States parties

are in a position to take significant steps forward in shaping the future of

the Convention.

In addition to an article-by-article review of the treaty, where States

parties will examine existing understandings and consider expanding,

clarifying or updating them, the Conference is expected to cover a range of

thematic issues.

The Seventh Review Conference follows a set of annual meetings from 2007 to

2010, known collective as the inter-sessional process.

The purpose of these meetings was to "discuss, and promote common

understanding and effective action on" specific topics related to better

implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention. Attended by almost 100

States and their technical experts, as well as numerous intergovernmental,

non-governmental, professional, industrial and academic organizations, topics

discussed have included national implementation, regional cooperation,

bio-safety and bio-security, scientific oversight, dealing with disease

outbreaks, and responding to the use of biological weapons.

The President-designate observed that "perhaps the single most important

achievement of the inter-sessional process was to forge a community of

like-minded and collegial States parties, confident in their ability to work

together in a constructive and practical manner," adding that "if we can

retain this approach during the Review Conference, I am confident that we can

succeed in delivering a comprehensive consensus outcome that substantially

improves the operation of the Convention, and genuinely reduces the threats

posed to global security by biological weapons and bioterrorism."

In addition to the States prties, a variety of international organizations

such as the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal

Health, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, INTERPOL,

and the International Committee of the Red Cross will take part in the

conference, as well as a range of non-governmental organizations, scientific

and professional bodies, industry representatives and academic experts.

This broad participation has become a feature of the activities of the

Biological Weapons Convention.

Addressing a Biological Weapons Convention meeting in 2008, the

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said: "Governments alone

cannot confront the risks posed by biological weapons ... to manage the full

spectrum of biological risks - from naturally-occurring diseases, accidents

and negligence to terrorism and the deliberate use of biological weapons - you

need a cohesive, coordinated network of activities and resources. Such a

network will help to ensure that biological science and technology can be

safely and securely developed for the benefit of all."

States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention have met six times

previously, from 1980-2006, to conduct similar reviews.

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 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.

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Date:Dec 4, 2011
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