Continuing CHAPTER II Biological and chemical weapons


Biological Weapons

"States parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention should negotiate a new bio-security protocol to classify dangerous biological agents and establish binding international standards for the export of such agents."
Report of the secretary-general's High-Level-Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
In accordance with the decision taken by the Fifth BWC Review Conference in 2002, three annual meetings of the States parties of one week duration were to be held each year from 2003 until the Sixth Review Conference, to be held in 2006, in order to discuss and promote common understanding and effective action on a number of issues related to the implementation of the Convention.1 Each meeting of the States parties will be prepared by a two- week meeting of experts.

Second Meeting of Experts

To prepare for the Second Annual Meeting of States parties, a two-week Meeting of Experts was held in Geneva from 19-30 July 2004 under the Chairmanship of Peter Goosen of South Africa. Eighty-seven States parties participated in the meeting.2 Four States3 that had signed but not ratified the Convention participated in the Meeting of Experts without taking part in the decision-making. Two States,4 neither Party nor Signatory to the Convention, participated as observers. Several UN and other international bodies attended the meeting.5
In accordance with its programme of work,6 on 19 July the Meeting of Experts heard general statements from 18 States parties during the first working session and presentations from WHO, FAO, and OIE during the second working session. The period from 20 to 23 July was devoted to consideration of strengthening and broadening national and international institutional efforts and existing mechanisms for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases affecting humans, animals, and plants, and the period from 26 to 29 July was devoted to consideration of enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease.
The Meeting heard 15 statements, presentations and interventions from States parties on general surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating infectious diseases and 84 statements, presentations and interventions on surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating infectious diseases affecting humans, animals and plants.
It also heard a number of statements, presentations and interventions from States parties on outbreak response in/for humans, animals and plants, as well as on investigations.
In the course of this work, the Meeting of Experts was able to draw on a number of resources including background papers prepared by the Secretariat,7 Working Papers submitted by States parties,8 statements and presentations circulated in the Meeting, as well as a paper prepared by the Chairman, under his own responsibility and initiative, listing considerations, lessons, perspectives, recommendations, conclusions and proposals drawn from the presentations, statements, working papers and interventions made by delegations on the topics under discussion at the Meeting.9 On 30 July 2004 the Meeting adopted its Report.10

Second Meeting of States Parties to the BWC

The second Annual Meeting of States parties was held in Geneva from 6 to10 December 2004. Eighty-nine States parties to the Convention participated in the Meeting.11 Five States12 that had signed but not yet ratified the Convention participated without taking part in the decision-making. Two States,13 neither Party nor Signatory to the Convention, participated as observers. Several UN and other international bodies attended the meeting.14
In accordance with its programme of work,15 on 6 December, the Meeting held a general debate during which statements were made by 28 States parties. On 7 December, one meeting was devoted to consideration of strengthening and broadening national and international institutional efforts and existing mechanisms for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases affecting humans, animals and plants (agenda item 5). On 8 December, one meeting was devoted to consideration of enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease (agenda item 6).
During their discussions on ways and means to promote common understanding and effective action on item 5, the States parties recognized that:
(a) infectious disease outbreaks could be contained and suppressed through early-detection, immediate response and cooperation and support at the national and international level;
(b) strengthening and broadening national and international surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious disease may support the object and purpose of the Convention;
(c) the primary responsibility for surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases rested with States parties, while WHO, FAO and OIE had global responsibilities within their mandates in this regard. The respective structures, planning and activities of States parties and WHO, FAO and OIE should be coordinated with and complement one another;
(d) scientific and technological developments had the potential to significantly improve disease surveillance and response.
The States parties consequently agreed on the value of:
(a) supporting the existing networks of relevant international organizations for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases and acting to strengthen WHO, FAO and OIE programmes, within their mandates, for the continued development and strengthening of, and research into, rapid, effective and reliable activities for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases, including in cases of emergencies of international concern;
(b) improving, wherever possible, national and regional disease surveillance capabilities, and, if in a position to do so, assisting and encouraging, with the necessary agreement, other States parties to do the same;
(c) working to improve communication on disease surveillance, including working with WHO, FAO and OIE and among States parties.
On ways and means to promote common understanding and effective action on item 6, the States parties recognized that:
(a) capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease promoted the object and purpose of the Convention;
(b) States parties' national preparedness and arrangements substantially contributed to international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease;
(c) the Secretary-General's investigation mechanism, set out in A/44/561 and endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 45/57, represented an international institutional mechanism for investigating cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons.
The States parties consequently agreed on the value of:
(a) continuing to develop their own national capacities for response, investigation and mitigation, in cooperation with the relevant international and regional organizations, and, if in a position to do so, assisting and encouraging, with the necessary agreement, other States parties to do the same;
(b) the Sixth Review Conference considering, inter alia, the further development of current procedures for the provision of assistance, by those in a position to do so, to States parties in cases of alleged use of biological weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease.
In order to facilitate the Sixth Review Conference, States parties were encouraged to inform the Conference of any actions, measures or other steps that they might take on the basis of the discussions at the 2004 Meeting of Experts and of the outcome of the 2004 Meeting of States parties.
The Meeting approved the nomination by the Western Group of John Freeman of the United Kingdom as Chairman of the Meeting of Experts and Meeting of States parties in 2005. The Meeting decided that the Meeting of Experts would be held in Geneva from 13 to 24 June 2005, and that the Meeting of States parties would be held in Geneva from 5 to 9 December 2005.16

1The issues were i) the adoption of necessary national measures to implement the prohibitions set forth in the Convention, including the enactment of penal legislation; ii) national mechanisms to establish and maintain the security and oversight of pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins; iii) enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease; iv) strengthening and broadening national and international institutional efforts and existing mechanisms for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases affecting humans, animals and plants; and v) the content, promulgation and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists. The topics for consideration at each annual meeting of States parties are as follows: items i and ii will be considered in 2003; items iii and iv in 2004; and item v in 2005.
2See Report of the Meeting of Experts (BWC/MSP/2004/MX/3, 11 August 2004). For this and all documents of the Meeting of Experts see http://disarmament2.un.org/wmd/bwc/annualmeetings/listofdocs-2004.html.
3Egypt, Madagascar, Myanmar and United Arab Emirates.
4Israel and Kazakhstan.
5The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) attended the meeting. In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) attended as observers.
6BWC/MSP/2004/MX/2/Rev.1.
7These included: i) Mechanisms being implemented for Disease Surveillance by Intergovernmental Organizations (WHO, FAO and OIE) and Significant Mechanisms being Implemented for Disease Surveillance by Non-Governmental Organizations, BWC/MSP/2004/MX/INF.1; ii) Mechanisms being Implemented for Response to Outbreaks of Disease by Intergovernmental Organizations (WHO, FAO and OIE): Background paper prepared by the Secretariat, BWC/MSP/2004/MX/INF.2; and iii) Mechanisms Available to States Parties to Investigate the Alleged Use of Biological or Toxin Weapons and to Provide Assistance in such cases: Background paper prepared by the Secretariat, BWC/MSP/2004/MX/INF.3.
8See http: //disarmament2.un.org /wmd /bwc /annualmeetings /listofdocs-2004.
9See Annex II of the Report of the Meeting of Experts (BWC/MSP/2004/MX/3).
10Report of the Meeting of Experts (BWC/MSP/2004/MX/3).
11Report of the Meeting of States parties, BWC/MSP/2004/3; List of Participants, BWC/MSP/2004/INF.3 and Add.1. For this and all documents of the Meeting of States parties see http://disarmament2.un.org/wmd/bwc/ annualmeetings/listofdocs-2004.html.
12Egypt, Madagascar, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic and United Republic of Tanzania.
13Israel and Kazakhstan.
14See footnote no. 10.
15BWC/MSP/2004/2.
16BWC/MSP/2004/3.