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UK Proposals to Strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

UK Proposals to Strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

The Fifth 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 opens its three week session in Geneva from 19 November to 7 December 2001. The British Government announced proposals to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) on 20 November. Source: FCO, London.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: 'The Fifth Review Conference of the BTWC is meeting in the shadow of the appalling events of September 11, and the continuing alarm created by anthrax attacks and hoaxes in the US and elsewhere.

'Parties to the Convention face a special responsibility to agree steps for the months and years ahead which will further protect our citizens from the threat of biological weapons proliferation.

'The UK has long been at the forefront of global efforts to tackle the dangers posed by these weapons. The ideas we are putting forward at the Conference offer a realistic package of domestic and international measures to strengthen the Convention.

'They include investigations into alleged violations of the Convention, provision of additional assistance to countries subject to attack or risk of attack, increased spending and co-ordination in disease surveillance, and establishment of a panel to monitor relevant scientific developments.

'I commend these proposals to all States Parties to the Convention, and urge participants to work for a constructive and forward-looking outcome to the Conference.'

Notes for Editors

1. The UK’s ideas were outlined in the UK National Statement delivered by David Broucher, UK Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, at the Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in Geneva. The Conference runs from 19 November to 7 December 2001, and is a quinquennial review of the Convention.

2. The UK proposals for strengthening the Convention include:

  • A revived and expanded mechanism for investigations, including facility investigations, into alleged use of biological weapons and alleged violations of the Convention. The system could cover creation of an up-dated pool of designated experts, regular training, provision of equipment, and analytical laboratory support;
  • Making the assistance elements for Article VII (each state undertakes to provide assistance to any party exposed to danger as a result of a violation of the Convention) more specific;
  • Increasing levels of spending and co-ordination on disease surveillance, detection and diagnosis, through existing national and / or international efforts in conjunction with World Health Organisation and other international programmes; and
  • Creation of a Scientific Advisory Panel to monitor scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention. This might meet annually and report to State Parties on topics of particular interest and relevance to the Convention’s prohibitions.
  • 3. The BTWC prohibits the development, production, stockpiling or any other acquisition or retention of biological agents for anything other than peaceful purposes. It entered into force in 1975 and has now been acceded to or ratified by 144 countries.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).