FIGHTING BIOLOGICAL WARFARE TURNS CORNER AS BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION EDGES CLOSER TO UNIVERSALIZATION, FIRST COMMITTEE HEARS IN THEMATIC DEBATE

17 October 2008
GA/DIS/3370

FIGHTING BIOLOGICAL WARFARE TURNS CORNER AS BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION EDGES CLOSER TO UNIVERSALIZATION, FIRST COMMITTEE HEARS IN THEMATIC DEBATE

17 October 2008
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3370
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

First Committee

11th Meeting (PM)


FIGHTING BIOLOGICAL WARFARE TURNS CORNER AS BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION EDGES


CLOSER TO UNIVERSALIZATION, FIRST COMMITTEE HEARS IN THEMATIC DEBATE


Potential of Missiles to Deliver Payload of Mass Destruction Weapons Quickly,

Accurately Makes Them Major Political, Military Issue; Three Related Drafts Tabled


Fighting biological warfare had reached an important “turning point” as the Biological Weapons Convention edged closer towards universalization, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today as it began its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.


States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention -– or, as it is formally known, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction -- had overcome bitter differences and emerged from the Sixth Review Conference with a laundry list of common themes that needed further attention and with the establishment of an Implementation Support Unit that was already making inroads, Georgi Avramchev, Chairman of the 2008 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, told the Committee.


On the list of issues requiring further attention, he noted, was a clear statement defining biosafety and biosecurity in the context of the Biological Weapons Convention and in activities related to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), along with the importance of basing national efforts on existing guidance and standards such as those provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health.


He commended the additional seven States that had signed the Convention since last year, but despite gains, emphasized that more needed to be done to add to the 162 State signatories to the Convention.  “States parties to the Convention must continue to work hard to persuade the remaining 33 non-parties to join,” he said, adding that no political obstacle was blocking accession in most cases, but rather a matter of setting domestic priorities.  “We must do everything we can to move BWC accession higher on the national agendas of States not party.”


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, France’s representative also called for the full universalization of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, and added to that pursuit the Union’s growing concern over delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction, particularly missiles, and the possibility that terrorists might acquire biological or chemical weapons and their means of delivery.  That unthinkable risk demanded keen cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, as well as between Member States, to staunch the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.


The potential of missiles to carry and deliver a payload of weapons of mass destruction quickly and accurately made them a qualitatively significant political and military issue, warned Santiago Irazabal Mourao, Disarmament and Sensitive Technologies Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil and Chairman of the Panel of Governmental Experts on the issue of missiles in all its aspects.


Introducing the report on the panel’s concluding meeting, he said delivery systems required further discussion, as did, among other things, the growing military significance of missiles, the increasing use of cruise missiles, and the access and use of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) by non-State actors.


Speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s representative highlighted the importance of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding Protocol and universal adherence to it.  He said new types of weapons of mass destruction should be prevented from being developed, and in that context he introduced a related draft resolution concerning measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (document A/C.1/63/L.25), reaffirming the ban on the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare.


Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of two additional draft texts.  The first on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament; and the second on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.


Statements in the thematic debate were also made by the representatives of Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Norway, Lithuania, Belarus, Australia, Cuba, Republic of Korea and Hungary.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 20 October, to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and to begin its thematic discussion on the disarmament aspects of outer space, and conventional weapons.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its thematic discussion on the issue of other weapons of mass destruction and to hear the introduction of related draft texts.


Members were first expected to hear a statement by the Chairman of the Panel of Governmental Experts established to explore further the issue of missiles in all its aspects, as well as the Chairman of the 2008 meetings of the States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and of Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).


The Committee had before it the report entitled The issue of missiles in all its aspects (document A/63/176), in which the Secretary-General transmits the report of the Panel of Governmental Experts.  In the report’s foreword, the Secretary-General says that the international community has long harboured concerns about the accumulation, proliferation, technical refinement, and threat and use of ballistic and other types of missiles.  States have responded by pursuing various unilateral, bilateral or multilateral measures.  Despite the international community’s concerns, there is no universally accepted norm or instrument specifically governing the development, testing, production, acquisition, transfer, deployment or use of missiles.


The report discusses the present situation regarding missiles and identifies key issues that should be taken into account in order to address, comprehensively, the issue of missiles, including the global and regional security backdrop which provides the motivation, or lack thereof, for missile development, testing, production, acquisition, transfer, possession, deployment and use; the circumstances of transfer to and use of certain types of missile and missile technology by State or non-State actors; the issues of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation; the interrelationship between doctrines, strategies and missile-related behaviour; the relative salience of ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as of missiles used as delivery vehicles for weapons of mass destruction or conventional arms; missile defence; and the increased contribution of space-based capabilities to a wide range of human endeavours.


Divergent views and the complexity of issues of missiles led the Panel to conclude that continued international efforts were important, specifically for focusing further deliberations on existing and emerging areas of consensus, the report states.  In view of the complexity, the Panel agrees that a step-by-step approach is required to deal with missiles issues, including possible steps, such further refining existing national measures of transfer and export control of missiles and related items, including technology.  The Panel considers it important to have continued international efforts to deal with the increasingly complex issue of missiles in the interest of peace and security, and to deliberate further on the issue, specifically focusing attention on existing and emerging areas of consensus.  The Panel emphasizes the important role of the United Nations in providing a more structured and effective mechanism to build such a consensus.


Opening Statements by Panel of Governmental Experts


SANTIANGO IRAZABAL MOURAO, Disarmament and Sensitive Technologies Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Chairman of the Panel of Governmental Experts on the issue of missiles in all its aspects, said that the issues were linked at global and regional levels in several ways and remained a focus of increased international attention, discussion and activity.


He said that the potential of missiles to carry and deliver a payload of weapons of mass destruction quickly and accurately made them a qualitatively significant political and military issue, while the diversity of international interests on matters related to missiles posed a specific challenge to efforts to address the issue in multilateral forums.


Among the issues to which the Panel had agreed required further discussion, including the growing military significance of missiles and their delivery systems, the growing use of cruise missiles, and the access and use of man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) by non-State actors.


GEORGI AVRAMCHEV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Chairman of the 2008 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, said the sixth review conference had been a “turning point” for the Convention, resolving issues that had bitterly divided States parties since 2001, and resulting in broad agreements.  Among those agreements were a new intersessional work programme to help ensure effective implementation of the Convention until the 2011 review, specific measures to obtain universal adherence to the Convention, and various measures to improve national implementation.  Most significantly perhaps, the Conference had decided to establish an Implementation Support Unit for the Convention, addressing a long-standing need for institutional support for States parties’ implementation efforts.


He said that, while the intersessional meetings did not create binding commitments, they produced considerable benefit from the information and experience exchange and proposals that served as a common reference point for States parties that wished to make use of it.  Following broad discussions involving States parties, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health, States parties had reached several agreements, including enacting laws and measures penalizing and preventing activities that breached any of the Convention’s prohibitions.


At the meeting, he recalled, States parties had considered national, regional and international measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity, including laboratory safety and security of pathogens and toxins, and also examined the possible adoption or development of codes of conduct, with the aim of preventing misuse in the context of advances in bioscience and biotechnology research for purposes prohibited by the Convention.  Impressively broad participation had included 96 States parties represented by nearly 500 delegates, among them 180 experts.  Developing country participation had risen to 53 per cent, as compared to 48 per cent in 2005.  “This is an excellent result, and demonstrates both the wide relevance of the topics and the utility of the intersessional work”, he said, adding that the meeting had produced “a wealth of material”, which was still being processed.


From the plethora of ideas and proposals, common threads had emerged, he continued.  Among them were a clear statement defining biosafety and biosecurity in the context of the Biological Weapons Convention and in activities related to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), the importance of basing national efforts on existing guidance and standards, and the need to involve relevant stakeholders, including Governments, the scientific community, commercial industry and academia.  Those and other common threads would be refined and developed over the coming weeks before being considered by the upcoming Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in December.  Then, the 2009 meeting would address capacity-building in the fields of surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment of infectious diseases.  The 2010 meeting would examine the provision of assistance in the case of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons.  “Both those topics will again require coordination and integration with a range of different actors and agencies, illustrating once more that our task of confronting the risks posed by biological weapons is a shared one”, he said.


In an attempt to help developing countries help themselves, the new Implementation Support Unit (ISU), operated by three full-time staff, had already provided States parties with advice that provided better cohesion to their activities and “less reinventing of wheels”.  He said:  “The ISU model has proved a success”, he said, adding that he hoped States parties might build upon and develop that model at the seventh review conference and beyond.


Seven new States parties had joined the Convention, and two more might acceded before year’s end, he said.  With the number of States party to the Convention standing at 162, it was “a healthy total, but still considerably short of membership of the Chemical Weapons Convention or the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)”. He urged States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention to work hard to persuade the remaining 33 non-parties to join.


In most cases, no political obstacle blocked accession:  it was simply a matter of domestic priorities in the States concerned, he said, stressing, “We must do everything we can to move BWC accession higher on the national agendas of States not party.”  Turning to the December meeting, he said “We have made good progress, but much remains to be done. The threat posed to global security by biological weapons is constantly evolving with the rapid advances in biological science and technology, and the spread of these advances around the world.  States parties should begin to consider what other measures are needed to confront this evolving threat, and what steps they might take at the seventh review conference in 2011 to ensure that the BWC remains an effective barrier against the development or use of biological weapons.”


Thematic Debate Statements


ERIC DANON (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that staunching the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means called for a global approach.  The risk that terrorists could acquire biological or chemical weapons and their means of delivery added a further critical dimension to the issue.  Cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, as well as between Member States, was vital.


He called for the full universalization of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.  He also called on all Member States to re-examine the possibility of withdrawing any reservations to the 1925 Protocol.  The Union would continue to assist those States that requested it in implementing the various instruments.  It was pleased with the progress of the two-year-old Implementation Support Unit for the Biological Weapons Convention, but international dialogue was needed to achieve optimum implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.  The Union remained committed to the long-term development of measures to check compliance with the Convention.


Today, 11 years after its entry into force, the Chemical Weapons Convention was one of the cornerstones of international efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation.  The Convention was a unique instrument in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, and its strict application must be guaranteed.  It was the only convention that banned completely and without exception an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in a way that was non-discriminatory and verifiable, under strict and effective international control.  The general criterion application, which established that the use, stockpiling, storage or transfer of toxic chemical products and their precursors would be prohibited and penalized, except where such a chemical was intended for purposes not prohibited by the Convention and as long as the types and quantities were consistent with such purposes, was one of the key guarantees that the Convention would retain its relevance for dealing with future issues.


He said it was essential to maintain the Chemical Weapons Convention’s high verification criteria and to pursue their reinforcement, in order to achieve its objectives of non-proliferation and confidence-building.  The Convention’s verification regime must take account of new scientific, technological and industrial developments in the field of chemistry.  He underlined the role of the verification regime, including the challenge-inspection mechanism, and the need to maintain a high level of preparation within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat in order to implement the mechanism, both as an important tool of dissuasion to address the risks of non-compliance with the Convention, and as a means of increasing transparency, confidence and international security.  The destruction of all chemical weapons remained a key objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He reaffirmed that States parties were required to destroy their chemical weapons and the relevant production facilities or to convert the latter within the deadlines set by the Convention.


The question of the proliferation of missiles that could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction was also a matter of major concern in the context of international security, he said, highlighting his concern over the tests of mid-range missiles conducted over the last 12 months outside all the existing transparency and pre-notification schemes, especially by Iran at the beginning of July.  The Hague Code of Conduct, together with the Missiles Technology Control Regime, represented the best existing tool to deal with the problem of missile proliferation.  The Union considered it necessary to reaffirm the clear multilateral and universal purpose of the Code.  States that subscribed to the Code were urged to submit their annual pre-launch notifications and declarations.  Continued disregard for the provisions initially accepted by the States concerned undermined the viability and functioning of the Code as a whole.


The Union would like ways of reinforcing the campaign against missile proliferation to be examined, he said.  In that connection, it noted the suggestion, made in a joint Russian-American statement at the sixty-second General Assembly session, that the overall elimination of all short- and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles be discussed, noted with interest the proposal presented by France in March that negotiations be opened on a treaty prohibiting short- and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.


He said that the question of space activities had no mandatory link with that of other weapons of mass destruction, but there were nevertheless sensitive aspects about which Member States had expressed concern, he said.  Prevention of an arms race in outer space was an essential condition for the strengthening of strategic stability and for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  There was a need for confidence-building measures in outer space.  The Union’s 27 member countries were working on a draft code of conduct for activities in space.  He added that the Union would be submitting a draft resolution on The Hague Code of Conduct.


LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES ( Brazil), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), reaffirmed his commitment to the goal and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He supported its full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation and encouraged continued efforts to achieve its full universalization.  He stressed the treaty’s growing membership and welcomed the efforts undertaken by the OPCW.  Only seven States in the world had not adopted measures regarding that instrument, and he urged them to do so.


He called for renewed efforts and greater interaction among States parties towards implementation, with a view to strengthening the mechanisms that increased the collaboration of developed countries to create and promote national measures and compliance with the Convention’s obligations.  He called on countries with chemical weapons to destroy them and comply with their obligations within the established deadlines.  He reiterated the Common Market’s commitment to multilateralism and the objective of achieving general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, including the prohibition and elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.


WITJAKSONO ADJI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that the possibility of any use of bacteriological agents and toxins as weapons should be completely excluded, as their use would be repugnant to the conscience of humankind.  He recognized the importance of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention through multilateral negotiations for a legally binding protocol and universal adherence to it.  The effective contribution of the Convention to international peace and security could be enhanced through its full implementation.


He reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Developed countries should promote international cooperation for the benefit of States parties to the Convention through the transfer of technology, material and equipment for peaceful purposes in the chemical field, and the removal of all and any discriminatory restrictions that were contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Convention.  He expressed concern that 60 per cent of chemical weapons still remained to be destroyed and called upon States with chemical weapons to ensure full and complete compliance with the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012 for the destruction of such weapons.


Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention on assistance and protection against chemical weapons made a significant contribution to countering the threat of use of chemical weapons, he said.  While paying due respect to the chemical weapons victims and their families, he declared the Movement’s firm conviction that international support to provide special care and assistance to all victims suffering the effects of exposure to chemical weapons was an urgent humanitarian need that demanded special attention through the possible establishment of an international support network.


He welcomed the adoption by consensus of General Assembly resolution 62/33 entitled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction”.  He noted the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004), 1673 (2006) and 1810 (2008), but underlined the need to ensure that any action by the Council did not undermine the United Nations Charter and existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction.  He reaffirmed the need to prevent new types of weapons of mass destruction.  He then introduced a draft resolution entitled “Measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol” (document A/C.1/63/L.25), explaining that there were only two technical updates to the text, in preambular paragraph 1 and operative paragraph 4.


KNUT LANGELAND (Norway) said that a world without weapons of mass destruction could not be achieved without strengthening global treaties -– such as the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) –- as well as the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Full global adherence and compliance with those legally-binding instruments was crucial, and he called on all countries which had not yet acceded to those instruments to do so without delay.


Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he said it was important for States parties to identify practical measures, further enhance deliberations and develop a common understanding and approach to advance the process.  In the current year, the focus of Convention efforts had been in the field of biological safety and security, which was of crucial importance in preventing bioterrorism.  Biosafety and biosecurity were other key areas that would benefit from further strengthening.  Enhanced partnership among States parties and with civil society was a pre-condition for success, he added, noting that, in the past two years, Norway and Indonesia had worked in close cooperation with civil society members.


He said that there could be no doubt about the crucial role of the Chemical Weapons Convention in combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  The Convention was both a disarmament treaty and an essential tool in fostering international cooperation in the field of peaceful chemical activities.  There was an opportunity now to ensure full implementation of the Convention’s obligations, and it was vital to ensure that existing stockpiles and production facilities were destroyed, or converted, within the Convention deadlines.  While moving towards the elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles, attention should also be directed towards non-proliferation, and, as such, the adoption of national legislation and enforcement measures in accordance with article XI of the Convention would greatly facilitate international cooperation towards that goal.


Norway had co-sponsored the resolution on the promotion of The Hague Code of Conduct, he said, urging all Member States to adhere to the Code, thus, contributing to enhanced confidence and stability.  An arms race must be avoided, and, as such, he supported all resolutions in the General Assembly and work programmes in the Conference on Disarmament to start consultations on measures to prevent an arms race in outer space.


VAIDOTAS VERBA ( Lithuania) endorsed the European Union’s position and drew the Committee’s attention to the issue of chemical munitions dumped at sea -– “a toxic legacy of wars for future generations”.  Chemical weapons had been dumped in many of the world’s bodies of water, including the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.  More than 40 States had signalled that sea-dumped chemical weapons affected them, directly or indirectly.  According to a recent report on chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea, the rate at which agents were being released into the environment was unlikely to pose significant risk to the littoral States.  However, underlying those conclusions was the assumption that those chemical munitions would lie essentially undisturbed.  Concern had increased, given the likelihood that that assumption was no longer valid.


More than 50,000 tons of chemical warfare munitions containing more than 10,000 tons of highly active toxicants had been dumped into the Baltic Sea -- a shallow and particularly fragile body of water, he said.  Plans to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline over or close to the chemical munitions dumpsites on the bottom of the Sea placed the issue on the international and regional agenda.  The situation called for international cooperation and exchange of information, as well as sustainable risk reduction plans, an analysis of potential cost-effective remediation strategies, and exchange of best practices and policies with other regions.  The drafters of the Chemical Weapons Convention, aware of the immense costs of destroying the stocks of chemical weapons, had excluded chemical weapons dumped at sea before 1985 from the scope of the treaty.  Some aspects of mitigating those weapons’ impact were covered by later treaties, such as the 1998 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic.


He called for greater international dialogue to address that challenge in a cost-effective and safe manner.  One of the first initiatives had been an international seminar organized by Lithuania last month, with the participation of more than 90 representatives and experts from around the world.  The event had echoed a growing interest in promoting broader engagement on the issue within international and regional forums.  Many nations considered security and economic implications to be of equal concern with the environmental and health impact of sea-dumped chemical weapons.  His Government’s efforts were aimed at improving its capabilities to respond to incidents involving sea-dumped chemical munitions and to prevent relevant risks, including the risk of terrorism.   Lithuania would seek the support of States to develop deeper understanding of the issue within appropriate international frameworks, such as the United Nations and the OPCW.


IGOR UGORICH ( Belarus) introduced a draft resolution on prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons:  report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/63/L.12).  The General Assembly had discussed a ban on new weapons of mass destruction for more than 30 years.  The draft, in its current form, had existed since 1996 and it had been adopted since 1990 on a triennial basis.  It aimed to establish an agreed international procedure that would make it possible for the Conference on Disarmament to continuously monitor development and manufacture of new types of mass destruction weapons.  It would also provide for recommendations, when necessary, concerning specific negotiations on certain types of weapons.


He said that the draft would not hamper research and development programmes, nor would it overburden existing disarmament machinery.  It specifically noted that the Conference on Disarmament should keep the issue under review and include the results of its consideration of the issue in its annual reports.


Preventive measures were the best way to deal with potential threats to international peace and security, he said, adding that the nature and boldness of such preventive measures, however, largely depended on the political will of States.  The lack of evidence of the existence or development of certain new types of weapons of mass destruction was not an excuse for losing sight of such an important issue.  He appealed to all Member States to reaffirm their political commitment to prevent the emergence of new weapons of mass destruction by adopting the draft by consensus.


JOANNA GASH ( Australia ), chair of the Australia Group which works with 40 other countries and the European Commission in strengthening chemical and biological export control lists, said that the Chemical Weapons Convention had emerged as a cornerstone of the multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.  It was crucial to efforts to halt the proliferation of chemical weapons.  Australia was encouraged by continuing progress in the destruction of chemical weapons, which had resulted in the verified elimination of more than one third of declared stockpiles.  One former possessor State had completed elimination of all chemical weapons.  She urged the other five possessor States to make every effort to meet their extended deadlines for destruction.


At the same time, she regretted that the Second Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention in May had experienced a difficult negotiating environment, which had prevented constructive discussion of many of the challenges facing the treaty and, thus, agreement by States parties on how to deal with them.  It was now vital that all of them look to the future to ensure that that Convention adapted to developments in science and technology.  “We must continue to strive for the full and effective implementation of declaration and inspection requirements to activities not prohibited by the Convention”, she urged.


Asserting that the Biological Weapons Convention was strengthening global defences against biological weapons and bioterrorism, she noted the strides made by the Convention, with an increase from 155 to 162 State parties with an additional 13 signatories.  She congratulated the three States that had acceded to the Convention this year -- Zambia, Madagascar and the United Arab Emirates.  Despite those monumental steps, more needed to be done to counter weapons of mass destruction delivery systems, especially absent an international treaty covering ballistic missile proliferation.  Australia and the Republic of Korea would submit a resolution on the prevention of illicit brokering -- black market activity -- by which the perpetrators sought to avoid the restrictions set out in the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions and the export control regimes.


MARIETA GARCIA JORDAN (Cuba), associating herself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the existence of weapons of mass destruction remained a major threat to international peace and security.  Cuba reaffirmed that all States must comply with their obligations related to arms control, disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in all its aspects.  As a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Cuba continued to play an active role in urging a balanced focus on disarmament, including verification and assistance and cooperation.  It also supported the Convention’s universalization.


The report of the Second Review Conference on the Convention had shown in a balanced way the positions and concerns of State parties, as a result of an arduous negotiating effort, she said.  The document was an important tool for the future.  The total destruction of chemical arsenals, according to the time limits adopted at the eleventh Conference of States Parties, would remain the most important task for the OPCW.  She supported the full implementation of the Convention’s article XI, which concerned States parties’ full economic and technological development and promoted important actions in that vein.  She appealed to developed countries to promote genuine international cooperation through the transfer of technology, materials and equipment for the use of chemicals for peaceful purposes.  The discriminatory restrictions that some States continued to impose on certain States parties to the Convention regarding transfers were contrary to the letter and spirit of that instrument.


She reiterated the urgent need to eliminate any possibility that bacteriological and toxin agents would ever be used as weapons.  The follow-up mechanism implemented during the sixth review of the Biological Weapons Convention was, beyond a doubt, a useful tool for the exchange of national experience and a forum for consultation.  However, the only way to really strengthen and improve the Convention is by means of negotiation and adopting a legally binding protocol effective against the production, storage, transfer and use of biological weapons.  Cuba shared the legitimate international concern at the risk that terrorist groups would acquire mass destruction weapons.  However, such a risk could not be eliminated through a selective approach that was limited to horizontal proliferation, while ignoring vertical proliferation and disarmament.


“If we really want to combat the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists, urgent progress is needed in the area of disarmament, including in the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction”, she warned.


KIM HAK-JO ( Republic of Korea) said the commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons constituted a solid foundation for international peace and security.  The Chemical Weapons Convention had served as a primary multilateral instrument, embodying an unprecedented mechanism.  He stressed the importance of its full and effective implementation and to the destruction of existing stockpiles and production capacities within the agreed time limits.  The destruction of existing stocks, on one hand, and the prevention of future development, production and stockpiling, on the other hand, represented not only a multilateral commitment, but also a contribution to the fight against terrorism.


He said that the establishment of an effective and reliable global verification system was critical for strengthening the main objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, namely, the prevention of the use of chemical weapons.  He called upon those States that had not yet acceded to the Convention to do so without further delay.  The OPCW had succeeded in effectively carrying out the functions entrusted to it under the terms of the Convention.


With advances in biotechnology, as well as its widespread availability, there was a greater risk that proliferators, both States and non-State actors, might take advantage of the loopholes associated with the dual use of biological agents and toxins, materials, equipment and knowledge, he said.  The Biological Weapons Convention remained the fundamental legal and normative foundation of the collective effort to prohibit the use of biological and biotoxic weapons.  The Review Conference in November 2006 had provided a solid basis to further pursue endeavours to strengthen the Convention, not only by adopting a final declaration for the first time in 10 years, but also by agreeing upon measures to strengthen the Convention.


ATTILA ZIMONYI ( Hungary) submitted a draft resolution entitled “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  He said that the text was based on resolutions that were adopted in recent years.  It had been updated to reflect new developments.  The draft was shorter and more succinct.  He hoped for its approval by consensus.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.