1 December 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11971
DC/3145

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECRETARY-GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS CRUCIAL WORK DONE TO STRENGTHEN BARRIERS AGAINST


BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS, BIOTERRORISM, IN MESSAGE TO GENEVA MEETING

 


Following is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Meeting Of States Parties of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, in Geneva, 1-5 December:


It is a pleasure to send greetings to the States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention.


You meet at the halfway point of the intersessional work programme, in advance of the next review conference in 2011.  I am encouraged to know that the programme has been inclusive and productive, and that you have developed understandings on improving national implementation and regional cooperation.  I urge you to maintain that spirit this week as you continue work on biosafety, biosecurity, oversight, education and awareness-raising, as well as next year, when you address capacity-building in disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment.  These efforts are crucially important in strengthening barriers against biological weapons and bioterrorism, and in addressing other threats to public health, agriculture, economic development and the environment.


Governments alone cannot confront the risks posed by biological weapons.  That is why the intersessional programme has also involved international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, Interpol, regional bodies, professional and scientific associations, academia and commercial industry.  This reflects your recognition that, 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.  I commend the progress that has been made in this direction during the intersessional programme.


I also urge you to begin thinking about additional steps that could be taken at the next review conference.  You might consider how to increase membership, and how to further develop the implementation support unit.  You might also explore the potential for further multilateral cooperation in the fields of verification, compliance and enforcement of the Convention.


The United Nations will continue to support your important work.  Please accept my best wishes for a productive meeting.


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For information media • not an official record