Meetings under the Biological Weapons Convention

Detailed information about the different official meetings including official documents, statements and side events can be found on the ‘ODA Meetings Place‘.

Background

All BWC meetings are held in Geneva, and are open to all States Parties and signatories to the Convention. 

The Implementation Support Unit is responsible for the administration of official BWC meetings.

Review Conferences

  • Pursuant to Article XII of the Convention, Review Conferences have the purpose to review the operation of the Convention, with a view to assuring that the purposes of the preamble and the provisions of the Convention are being realized. Such review shall also take into account any new scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention.
  • Since the Convention entered into force in 1975, eight Review Conferences have been held in 1980, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001/2002, 2006, 2011 and 2016.
  • The Eighth Review Conference decided that the Ninth Review Conference shall be held in Geneva not later than 2021 and should review the operation of the Convention, taking into account, inter alia:
    • new scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention
    • the progress made by States Parties on the implementation of the Convention
    • progress of the implementation of decisions and recommendations agreed upon at the Eighth Review Conference, taking into account, as appropriate, decisions and recommendations reached at previous review conference.
The 2019 Meeting of States Parties considering the factual report of the “Meeting of Experts on Cooperation and Assistance, with a particular focus on Strengthening Cooperation and Assistance under Article X” introduced by its Chair Ambassador Victor Dolidze of Georgia

Meetings of States Parties

  • The Fifth Review Conference in 2002 decided to hold annual Meetings of States Parties to discuss, and promote common understanding and effective action on specific agenda items. The work of these meetings has been considered by the Review Conferences, which decide on any further action, as applicable.
  • Subsequent Review Conferences have taken similar decisions and a total of 14 Meetings of States Parties have taken place thus far.
  • The 2020 Meeting of States Parties has been postponed until 22 to 25 November 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meetings of Experts

  • The Fifth Review Conference in 2002 decided that each Meeting of States Parties will be preceded by a Meeting of Experts, which will prepare factual reports describing its work.
  • Subsequent Review Conferences have taken similar decisions and there have been four cycles of intersessional programmes (2003-2005, 2007-2010, 2012-2015, 2018-2020).
  • The 2020 Meeting of Experts has been postponed until 30 August to 8 September 2021.

Ad Hoc Meetings

Ad Hoc Group

  • Pursuant to a decision of the Special Conference of States Parties in 1994, States Parties established 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, to be submitted for the consideration of the States Parties.
  • A total of twenty-four sessions of the Ad Hoc Group were held between 1995 and 2001.  At the twenty-third session in 2001, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Group produced a Draft Protocol to the Convention.

Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts to Identify and Examine Potential Verification Measures from a Scientific and Technical Standpoint

  • The Third Review Conference in 1991 decided to establish an Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts to identify and examine potential verification measures from a scientific and technical standpoint.
  • The Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts held four sessions in 1992 and 1993. At its last session, the report of the Group (VEREX Report) was adopted by consensus and later circulated to all States Parties for their consideration.

Ad Hoc Group Meeting of Scientific and Technical Experts from States Parties to Finalise the Modalities for the Exchange of Information and Data

  • Pursuant to a decision of the Second Review Conference in 1986, States Parties agreed to implement, on the basis of mutual cooperation, a set of four measures, in order to prevent or reduce the occurrence of ambiguities, doubts and suspicions, and in order to improve international co-operation in the field of peaceful biological activities.
  • The Conference decided to hold an Ad Hoc Group Meeting of Scientific and Technical Experts from States Parties to Finalize the Modalities for the Exchange of Information and Data. The group met in Geneva from 31 March to 15 April 1987 and adopted its report by consensus.

Special Conference 1994

  • In response to requests from a majority of States Parties, the Depository Governments took the necessary steps to convene a Special Conference of the States Parties from 19 to 30 September 1994, which was preceded by a Preparatory Committee from 11 to 15 April 1994.
  • The Special Conference examined the report of the abovementioned Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts to identify and examine potential verification measures from a scientific and technical perspective.
  • At its final plenary meeting on 30 September 1994, the Conference adopted its Final Report by consensus, which led to the establishment of the Ad Hoc Group mentioned above.

Formal Consultative Meeting 1997

  • A formal Consultative Meeting was convened under Article V of the BWC in Geneva, Switzerland from 25 to 27 August 1997 at the request of the Government of Cuba. States Parties held three meetings during that period and a report was issued.
  • As agreed at the meeting, the Chairman and the Vice-Chairmen, consulted on the basis of the information supplied at that meeting and in the light of further observations provided by States Parties in order as far as possible to clarify and resolve any outstanding issues related to the concerns raised by Cuba.
  • The Chairman reported in-writing on the outcome of these consultations to all States Parties. He noted that “due inter alia to the technical complexity of the subject and to the passage of time, it has not proved possible to reach a definite conclusion with regard to the concerns raised by Cuba”.