Experts meet prior to Biological Weapons Convention conference

Global weapons experts recently met in Geneva, Switzerland, ahead of the five-year review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention.

The late August meeting was part of a series of annual meetings held since 2001, when the Bush administration announced that it had serious objections to the BWC, including a major verification mechanism. Many saw 2001 as a low point in the push to rid the world of biological weapons and felt that the annual affair would keep the crisis from deepening, according to the Canada Free Press.

The primary issue discussed during the meeting was how assistance and coordination between convention member states and the various international organizations dealing with biological weapons would occur in the case of a major biological event.

The experts agreed that the response must occur along two fronts, the Canada Free Press reports. The first is investigative - figuring out who or what is responsible for an outbreak. The second is dealing with the consequences.

The experts agreed that states and groups such as the World Health Organization need to improve their capabilities to identify, diagnose, supervise and monitor dangerous diseases and their causes, the Canada Free Press reports.

One contention at the Geneva meeting was that the convention’s activities in recent years have been diverted away from security issues and towards dealing with epidemics and interstate cooperation. This runs counter to the assertion that the convention be entirely a mechanism for preventing the development, stockpiling and use of biological weaponry.