The threat posed to global peace and security by biological and chemical weapons has been a constant concern of the international community. Persistent endeavours to address these concerns ultimately resulted in the conclusion of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BWC) - the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC) - the first such treaty to be negotiated entirely within a multilateral disarmament forum, namely, the Conference on Disarmament (the Conference). Ever since these two Conventions were opened for signature, in 1972 and 1993 respectively, the United Nations has eagerly sought to promote their universality as well as widespread compliance with their provisions. Furthermore, States have continued to reaffirm the necessity of upholding the principles and objectives of the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (Geneva Protocol).1
The CWC prohibits chemical weapons, provides for their destruction and contains a comprehensive verification mechanism of unprecedented scope. Since the Convention's entry into force on 29 April 1997, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been actively implementing its provisions.2
The BWC, however, still lacks a specific verification mechanism. Between 1986 and 1991, in an effort to strengthen the Convention, the States parties agreed upon a set of politically binding confidence-building measures, involving information and data exchanges, in order to prevent and reduce ambiguities, doubts and suspicions and to improve international cooperation in peaceful biotechnological activities. In recent years, and particularly in 2005, close attention has been paid to ongoing developments in biological sciences and technology.
At the Special Conference of States parties in September 1994, the parties agreed to establish an ad hoc group, open to all States parties, "to consider appropriate measures, including possible verification measures, and draft proposals to strengthen the Convention, to be included, as appropriate, in a legally-binding instrument." The negotiations on a verification protocol started in 1995 in the Ad Hoc Group and came to a halt in 2001, over rejection of the composite text proposed by the Chairman. In the same year, the fifth Review Conference of the States parties to the BWC suspended its work due to divergent views and positions among delegations on several key issues, particularly the work of the Ad Hoc Group. The Conference resumed its session in 2002, at which time it adopted a Final Report that included a decision to hold annual meetings of States parties and expert meetings in the subsequent three years leading up to the Review Conference in 2006. The last in this series of meetings was held in December 2005.
This chapter covers developments with respect to the implementation of the BWC and CWC, including efforts by the international community to strengthen and universalize the two instruments. It also gives a brief account of the work of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in Iraq (UNMOVIC), established in December 1999 as the successor to the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM),3 and the activities of the Australia Group.
The threats posed by biological and chemical weapons and related materials and technology, including the possibility of their acquisition by terrorists, was a pressing concern of the international community. Calls for further strengthening both the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) continued, as did efforts by the States parties to those Conventions to implement national measures that would best address those calls. In April 2004, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1540 calling on all States to adopt and implement effective measures, including export controls, to prevent non-State access to nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery.4 The Committee established pursuant to this resolution began its work on the basis of an agreed programme in April 2005.
The year 2005 marked two significant anniversaries relevant to both biological and chemical weapons: the thirtieth anniversary of the entry into force of the BWC and the eightieth anniversary of the Geneva Protocol.
Pursuant to the decision taken at the fifth Review Conference of the States parties to the BWC - on a new process to strengthen the implementation and effectiveness of the Convention leading up to the sixth Review Conference to be held in the last quarter of 2006 - the third Meeting of Experts from States parties and the third Meeting of the States parties to the BWC were held in Geneva in July and December 2005, respectively. These were the last set of meetings of a three-year long process.
In the continued absence of a verification mechanism to monitor and implement the BWC, the World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to offer assistance and advice on possible situations involving the deliberate use of biological and chemical agents that affect health. In 2004, WHO also revised and published "The public health response to biological and chemical weapons: WHO guidance". WHO also continued to liaise with other international organizations, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (Organisation Mondiale de la Santé Animale (OIE)), as appropriate.
Progress was made in the implementation of the CWC and the activities of the OPCW. By the end of 2005, approximately 12,435 metric tonnes of chemical warfare agents had been destroyed under the OPCW verification regime, a figure which represents nearly 17 per cent of the total declared stockpiles of six known chemical weapons possessor States parties. Seven additional States ratified or acceded to the Convention in 2005, and the Convention entered into force for one more party, bringing the total number to 175 States parties, covering approximately 90 per cent of the world's chemical industry. There remained only nineteen States not yet party to the Convention: eleven signatory and eight non-signatory States. The tenth session of the Conference of States Parties to the CWC was held in November 2005 and reaffirmed, inter alia, the objectives of the 2003 Action Plan on National Implementation and Universality of the Convention.
UNMOVIC (the Commission) continued to conduct off-site assessment of the status of sites subject to monitoring that were damaged during the war in Iraq. It also continued its work on a compendium of Iraq's proscribed weapons and programmes. A draft of the summary of the compendium was circulated to the members of UNMOVIC's College of Commissioners for their comments. The Commission continued to operate under the assumption that the possibility of future redeployment to Iraq necessitated a sustained level of readiness to resume its operations there.
For its part, the Australia Group continued its efforts to strengthen national export control over dual-use biological and chemical agents and equipment, including reaching agreement on new measures to enhance participants' export controls and setting an agenda for tackling new and emerging challenges, including terrorism. One new member, Ukraine, joined the Group in 2005. The 40-member Group meets annually to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of participating countries' national export licensing.5 Its most recent meeting held in April 2005, marked the Group's twentieth anniversary.
In accordance with the decision taken by the fifth BWC Review Conference, three annual meetings of the States parties of one week duration were to be held each year from 2003 up to the sixth Review Conference, to be held not later than the end of 2006, in order to discuss, and promote common understanding and effective action on five topics to strengthen the implementation of the Convention.7 Each meeting of the States parties was to be prepared by a two-week meeting of experts.
To prepare for the third annual Meeting of States parties, a two-week Meeting of Experts was held in Geneva from 13 to 24 June under the Chairmanship of John Freeman (United Kingdom). Eighty-two States parties participated in that meeting.8 Three States that had signed the Convention, but had not yet ratified it, participated in the Meeting of Experts without taking part in the decision-making.9 One State, neither Party nor Signatory to the Convention, participated in the Meeting as an observer.10 Eleven United Nations and other international bodies also attended the Meeting.11 In addition, at the invitation of the Chairman, twenty-three scientific, professional, academic and industry bodies participated in informal exchanges in the open sessions as guests of the Meeting of Experts.
In accordance with the programme of work,12 on 13 June, the Meeting of Experts heard general statements from twelve States parties during the first open session, and presentations from seven international intergovernmental organizations and one State party during the second open session. On 14 June, two open sessions were devoted to the consideration of government science, during which the Meeting heard a total of nineteen presentations and statements from States parties and one presentation from a guest of the meeting. The three remaining open sessions, held between 15 and 20 June, were devoted to expert contributions, including those from universities, providers of funds, research institutes, publishers, industry and professional bodies. The three working sessions held between 15 and 20 June involved discussions related to universities, donors, research, publishers, industry and professional bodies. Three other working sessions held on 21 and 22 June tackled issues relating to the content of codes of conduct; issues relating to the promulgation and adoption of codes of conduct; and other issues relating to codes of conduct.
In the course of its work, the Meeting of Experts was able to draw on a number of resources, including background papers prepared by the Secretariat,13 Working Papers submitted by States parties,14 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.15 However, the Meeting noted that the Chair's paper had no status and did not necessarily form a basis for future deliberations. On 24 June, the Meeting noted that the Chairman would prepare the provisional agenda and programme of work for approval and adoption at the Meeting of States parties. It also adopted its report.16
The third annual Meeting of States parties took place in Geneva from 5 to 9 December. Eighty-seven States parties to the Convention attended the Meeting.17 Seven States that had signed the Convention, but had not yet ratified it, participated in the Meeting of States parties without taking part in the decision-making.18 Two States, neither Party nor Signatory to the Convention, attended as observers.19
In accordance with the programme of work,20 at its opening session, the Meeting of States parties heard a message from the Secretary-General. On 5 and 6 December, it held a general debate in which twenty-nine States parties made statements. On 6 and 7 December, three meetings were devoted to discussing and promoting common understanding and effective action on the content, promulgation, and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists (agenda item 6).
During those discussions, the States parties recognized that:
The States parties recognized that all those with a responsibility for, or legitimate interest in, codes of conduct should be involved in their development, promulgation and adoption. The States parties agreed on the value of codes of conduct applying not just to scientists, but to all those involved in scientific activity, including managers and technical and ancillary staff.
On the content of codes of conduct, States parties agreed on the importance of codes of conduct being:
On the adoption of codes of conduct, recognizing that it was important to build on and coordinate with existing efforts, and avoid imposing burdensome and duplicative measures, the States parties agreed on the value of:
On the promulgation of codes of conduct, recognizing that codes of conduct would be most effective if they, and the principles underlying them, were widely known and understood, the States parties agreed on the value of continuous efforts on promulgation through appropriate channels.21
In order to facilitate the sixth Review Conference (2006), States parties were encouraged to inform the Conference of any actions, measures or other steps that they may have taken on the basis of the discussions at the June 2005 Meeting of Experts and of the outcome of the current meeting.
In addition, the meeting took a series of procedural decisions about the sixth Review Conference and its preparatory committee:
The Meeting approved the cost estimates for the Preparatory Committee and the sixth Review Conference.22
Throughout 2005, efforts towards the complete elimination of chemical weapons (CW) continued.
With its accession in 2004 and its requisite declaration of CW possession, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya became the sixth declared possessor State. Since its entry into force to the end of 2005, five of the six declared CW possessor States parties had destroyed, under OPCW verification, approximately 12,435 tonnes of chemical warfare agents, over 17 per cent of the total stockpiles declared. In the United States, approximately 34 per cent of its chemical weapons arsenal was destroyed. The Russian Federation, which possesses the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, adjusted its programme for the destruction of chemical weapons and moved ahead after some initial delays. The OPCW work with Libya on the destruction of its stockpiles continued.
The tenth session of the Conference of States parties to the CWC convened in The Hague from 7 to 11 November.23 A total of 126 Member States participated. Other attendees included three Signatory States,24 four non-signatory States25 five international organizations26 and thirteen non-governmental organizations and one chemical-industry association.
The Conference approved the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya's request for a further extension of the intermediate deadlines for the destruction of its Category 1 chemical weapons.
Progress continued on the 2003 Action Plan on National Implementation and Universality of the CWC. At its tenth session, the Conference of States Parties reviewed the progress made so far, called for further assistance to be provided to States parties by the OPCW Technical Secretariat and encouraged all States parties to avail themselves of this assistance. The States parties undertook to review the status of the Action Plan the following year.
The Conference also approved the programme and budget for 2006. The budget totaled Euro 75,614,241, of which 50 per cent was allocated to the implementation of the CWC's verification regime.
The OPCW is entrusted with the implementation of the Convention Chemical Weapons. Its mandate covers the verification and elimination of all declared chemical weapons, the prevention of the proliferation of chemical weapons, assistance and protection of Member States in the event of a threatened or actual attack with chemical weapons and the promotion of the peaceful uses of chemistry. Throughout 2005, the OPCW organized a variety of training courses, in addition to regional and subregional meetings and workshops.
In his opening address to the tenth session of the Conference of States parties, the Director-General of the OPCW noted that "during this past year, the OPCW could claim to have consolidated the gains it had made in disarmament, non-proliferation, and international cooperation - it had also made considerable further progress on each of those fronts. At the same time, several areas still required our constant attention, and much remained to be done."27
Significant progress has been made towards the universality of the CWC since 2004. More than half of the States that had not yet joined the Convention when the Action Plan on National Implementation and Universality was first adopted two years ago, have since done so. In 2005, seven States ratified or acceded to the Convention, bringing the total number of States parties to 175.28
Important advances in the areas of disarmament and verification were also made in the implementation of article VII obligations which deal with national implementation measures. The number of inspections conducted to ensure the total destruction of stockpiled weapons and the non-proliferation of chemical weapons rose from 1500 to 2,200. The number of inspected sites increased from 500 to over 800 and the inspected countries also rose as the Convention's jurisdiction widened from 51 to 72 countries.
There was a high level of activity in the area of international cooperation and assistance, a core objective of the OPCW in 2005. The second OPCW exercise on the delivery of assistance (Joint Assistance 2005) was planned and coordinated jointly by the OPCW, Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It was conducted at the Yavoriv training area near Lviv, Ukraine, from 9 to 13 October. The aim of the exercise was to test various skills and capacities in the investigation of alleged use of chemical-warfare agents. The exercise involved teams from seventeen OPCW Member States and was attended by observers from another twenty-nine OPCW Member States. In total, almost 1,000 personnel had the opportunity to test and define international cooperation procedures to deliver emergency assistance following a simulated terrorist attack involving chemical-warfare agents. Additionally, a number of projects focusing on capacity-building were completed in 2005, notably in the Middle East and Central Asia.
A number of regional meetings were convened during the year in support of global and regional implementation efforts. In March, a national workshop on industry-related declarations under article VI of the Convention was organized in Mexico. The sixth Regional Meeting of National Authorities in Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Bogotá, Colombia, from 21 to 22 April. A subregional meeting of National Authorities in Central America was held in Guatemala, from 19 to 20 July, followed by a thematic workshop on the training of escorts for inspections, while a trial industry inspection was undertaken in Cuba from 2 to 3 August. A subregional meeting was also conducted in Jamaica on the implementation of the CWC for Caribbean countries, with an emphasis on import/export controls.29 The OPCW and the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) jointly organized a workshop on the CWC in St. Lucia, from 28 to 29 November. Participants discussed strategies to achieve the universal and effective application of the Treaty in the subregion, the benefits of adherence to the CWC, and their experiences in national implementation. The workshop was designed to increase awareness of the Treaty and its related obligations among member States of the OECS as well as Caribbean States that had not yet joined the CWC.30
The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)31 was established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1284 (1999). It remains tasked with verifying Iraq's compliance with its obligation to destroy its weapons of mass destruction and to operate a system of ongoing monitoring and verification to ascertain that Iraq does not re-acquire the same weapons prohibited by the Security Council. Though inactive in the field since March 2003, UNMOVIC continued to operate with respect to those parts of its mandate that can be implemented outside of Iraq. Additionally, it continued to operate under the assertion, that, as the Security Council had not revisited its mandate, the possibility of future redeployment to Iraq necessitated a sustained level of readiness to resume its operations there.
The Executive Chairman is required to report to the Security Council every three months on the implementation of resolution 1284 (1999). Accordingly, the Acting Executive Chairman submitted written reports and continued to brief the Security Council orally on a quarterly basis after consulting the College of Commissioners on the written reports. The College of Commissioners held four regular sessions in New York32 to discuss the implementation of Security Council resolution 1284 and other relevant resolutions, and to provide professional advice and guidance to the Executive Chairman, including on significant policy decisions.
On 28 February, the Executive Chairman briefed the Security Council on the first quarterly report of 2005, covering the period from 1 December 2004 to 28 February 2005. As part of its ongoing investigations into the removal of items, equipment and materials from Iraq (mainly scrap material) that were subject to UNMOVIC monitoring, the Commission made inquiries of all of Iraq's neighbours as to whether any such items, equipment or materials had found their way into or through their countries. The co-operation of Governments, noted in the previous reports of 2004, facilitated the Commission's tracking of material originating in Iraq that was subject to UNMOVIC monitoring. Since then a communication has been received from the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic confirming a previous statement to the effect that "no relevant scrap from Iraq had passed into or through Syria".33 In other activities, the Commission continued to work on the draft of the compendium of Iraq's proscribed weapons and programmes with the intention of completing its first draft in March 2005.
On 27 May, the second quarterly report of 2005 was submitted to the Security Council, covering the period from 1 March to 27 May 2005.34 The Commission reported that of the two remaining Governments from which a response was pending on the matter of scrap removal, the Government of Iran informed UNMOVIC, on 14 March, that after a thorough investigation by the various authorities and relevant organizations, it had concluded that no scrap had found its way into or through Iran.
On 25 April, Charles Duelfer, the Special Adviser to the Director of Central Intelligence of the United States, issued a series of addenda to the earlier 2004 comprehensive report of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the United States-led multinational team that searched for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. In the addenda, the Special Advisor assessed the risk of Iraqi expertise or material advancing the weapons of mass destruction potential in other countries, finding that it was "presently small but not to be ignored" and further that "so far, insurgent efforts to attain unconventional weapons had been limited and contained by coalition actions."35 The UNMOVIC College of Commissioners noted the fact that with this publication, the work of the ISG had effectively come to an end.
On 30 August, the Executive Chairman submitted the third quarterly report of 2005 to the Security Council covering the period from 1 June to 30 August 2005.36
The Commission continued its work on the compendium of Iraq's proscribed weapons and programmes, with an emphasis on lessons learned from the nature of the programmes and the experience gained in the process of their verification by inspectors. It had also prepared an extensive draft summary of the compendium.
Throughout the year, UNMOVIC continued to utilize satellite images acquired commercially to monitor sites in Iraq where declarable dual-use items and materials were known to have been located. A large number of such sites were found to have been destroyed, stripped and, in some cases, totally razed. UNMOVIC brought to the attention of the Security Council its concerns that an accurate inventory of the disposition of Iraq's dual-use capabilities was no longer possible. The twenty-first quarterly report mentioned the range of equipment in question and noted that no conclusion could be drawn concerning the presence or absence of equipment or materials inside undamaged buildings, nor the destination of all items removed.37
On 29 November, the fourth quarterly report of 2005 was submitted to the Security Council, covering the period from 1 September to 29 November.38 On the issue of removal of items relevant to UNMOVIC's mandate as scrap metal from Iraq, on 18 October, the Commission received a report from Saudi Arabia stating that it did not have any of the materials that were subject to the control of UNMOVIC and, in addition, that it did not allow the entry or transit of such materials in or through its territories.
The College of Commissioners held four session sessions in 2005. During its final session of 2005 in November, the Commission's discussions focused on ways in which the Security Council could proceed on the issue of the UNMOVIC mandate, including the process that could be followed to close the disarmament file. Ideas discussed included a review of the inspection findings of UNMOVIC and the ISG report. It was further recognized that the process of revisiting the UNMOVIC mandate with a view to closing the disarmament file, as well as any other steps, would be a matter for the Security Council.
Throughout 2005, UNMOVIC continued with the training of headquarters and roster staff, focusing on biological, missile and multi-disciplinary issues and also began the preparation of a training manual covering practical disarmament and monitoring inspections.
In addition to regular reporting to the Security Council on its activities in the respective quarters, the Commission added various appendices to those reports, of a wider nature as information for the Council and other interested parties. These have included a description of the UNMOVIC information system, examples of lessons learned in the course of the work on the compendium, details of Iraq's BW programme and Iraq's procurement of its WMD programmes.
The Australia Group is an informal arrangement among a number of countries,39 which aims, through coordinated efforts, to strengthen national export control systems over dual-use biological and chemical agents and equipment. The Group has met annually since 1985 to discuss ways in which export licensing measures of its members at the domestic level can collectively be made more effective.
Marking its twentieth anniversary, the Australia Group met for its annual plenary in Sydney, from 18 to 21 April. At the meeting, Ukraine, a major manufacturer of chemicals, joined the Australia Group as a new participant. The latter's inclusion brought the total membership of the Group to 40, including the European Commission.
The plenary noted the Group's role over the past twenty years in seeking to address the spread of chemical and biological weapons. Furthermore, it agreed on new measures to enhance participants' export controls for preventing the acquisition and use of those weapons and set an agenda for dealing with terrorism and other new and emerging challenges.40
Participants welcomed Israel's announcement that it would adhere to the Group's guidelines, which all countries have been encouraged to adopt voluntarily. To encourage broader adherence to the Australia Group measures, participants further developed outreach strategies based on targeted regional approaches. They also reiterated their willingness to assist countries in meeting their Security Council resolution 1540 obligations to establish effective export controls.41
Participants agreed to include certain aerosol sprayers to the biological equipment control list to address concerns over terrorists' interest in dispersal devices for biological agents. Existing controls on pumps and genetically modified organisms were revised to facilitate enforcement and to help exporters better understand their obligations. As part of the Group's ongoing efforts to keep its common control lists up to date and scientifically relevant, participants also agreed to examine twenty-five more biological agents on the control lists.
To increase the timeliness and effectiveness of information sharing between participants, the Australia Group Information System was established as a secure electronic communication tool between participants. The participants also agreed to expand the Group's web site by incorporating practical information on export control implementation and translating the site into the official UN languages.
The Australia Group agreed to conduct a survey of participants' current brokering controls with a view to developing best practice guidelines. Tighter controls on brokering and other intermediary activities will assist participants in dismantling procurement networks, such as those undertaken until recently by the nuclear proliferation network operated by A. Q. Khan.
Discussions were held on information sharing and enforcement, as well as practical measures for addressing proliferation by States and non-State actors. Drawing on some of the measures discussed at the plenary, the Australian Customs Service hosted a live exercise for enforcement officials on 22 April 2005.
The Group's future programme of work will focus on addressing the spread of biological and chemical weapons in furtherance of obligations under the BWC and CWC. As such, the Group intends to expand its outreach activities; combat terrorism through more effective awareness programmes; introduce stricter controls on sources, brokers and other intermediaries; and monitor emerging technologies relevant to the development of chemical and biological weapons.
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. The draft resolution was introduced by Hungary, on 12 October. A revised draft resolution was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 28 October and by the General Assembly on 8 December. For the text of the resolution, see pages 97.
The resolution called for ratification of the Convention without delay, its universality, and the exchange of information and data agreed to in the Final Declaration of the third Review Conference of States parties. Two new operative paragraphs, 4 and 5, welcomed the significant participation of the States parties at their meetings and at the meetings of experts, and noted that the sixth Review Conference would be held in Geneva in 2006 preceded by a preparatory committee. The Secretary-General was also requested to continue to render the necessary assistance to the depositary Governments of the Convention and to provide the required services for the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the Review Conferences, including the annual meetings of the States parties, the meetings of experts, the sixth Review Conference and its preparatory committee..
After the vote, the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) and all those countries that aligned themselves with its explanation of vote, reiterated the EU's commitment to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) review process, its support for all of the decisions of the fifth Review Conference of the BWC States parties, and called for the 2006 Review Conference to consider the work of the meetings of States parties and meetings of experts and decide on any further action.
Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. The draft resolution was introduced by Poland, on 12 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 24 October and by the General Assembly on 8 December. For the text of the resolution, see pages 40.
The resolution called upon all States that had not yet done so, to become parties to the Convention without delay; urged all States parties to meet in full and on time their obligations under the Convention and to support the OPCW in its implementation activities; urged those States that had not fulfilled their obligations under article VII (national implementation measures) to do so without delay; and reaffirmed the importance of article XI provisions (the economic and technological development of States parties) and recalled that the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of those provisions would contribute to the Convention's universality.
In 2005, multilateral efforts towards the total elimination of biological and chemical weapons continued. Addressing the threat of WMD terrorism remained a priority on the international disarmament agenda. The third meeting of Experts and the third meeting of States parties to the BWC, which took place during the year, concluded the final set of meetings of a three-year long process leading up to the forthcoming sixth Review Conference in 2006.
Further progress was achieved in both the implementation and further strengthening of the CWC. By the end of the year, a total of 175 States parties had ratified the Convention, while the OPCW continued to make progress in the implementation of the Convention, particularly in connection with the destruction of declared chemical arsenals. In November, the tenth session of the Conference of States parties to the CWC took place with the wide participation of States parties, including representatives of relevant international organizations and civil society. The Conference reviewed the progress made so far and called for increased assistance to States parties by the OPCW. It also agreed to review the status of the 2003 Action Plan on National Implementation and Universality of the CWC in the following year.
Meanwhile, UNMOVIC continued to conduct off-site assessment of the status of sites in Iraq that were subject to monitoring and damaged during the war. It also made progress on a compendium of proscribed weapons and programmes.
The Australia Group marked its twentieth anniversary (in 2005) of work to strengthen export controls over dual-use biological and chemical agents and equipment, by welcoming a new member and expressing willingness to assist States in meeting their Security Council 1540 obligations.