Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention set for Geneva

The Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use, development, production and stockpiling of biological and toxic weapons, will take place in December in Geneva.

International delegates from the 163 countries in the convention met from April 13 to 15 to discuss the steps forward for the upcoming meeting, reports. The preparatory meeting created the basic agenda items that would be discussed in December, such as taking into account scientific and technological developments.

One agreement during the meeting was that implementation of the BWC must be strengthened by further action. Since the BWC was created in 1975, the number of states possessing or actively pursuing biological weapons has more than doubled. It is also believed that the threat for biological agents falling into the hands of terrorist groups looking to weaponize them for use in an attack has risen as well.

One area of disagreement between members of the convention revolved around the issue of dual-use materials, according to These are biological materials that are used in scientific research but that could be utilized in creating a biological weapon.

The convention still lacks an international verification mechanism, which has led critics like the United States to withdraw its support in 2001 due to a lack of an effective inspection regime.

President of the BWC Paul van den Ijssel hopes to make the convention universal while recognizing that certain issues like verification will remain, reports.