Hillary Clinton to appear at biowarfare prevention conference

A senior U.S. State Department official recently announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear at an upcoming international conference on biological warfare prevention and preparedness to be held in Geneva.

The announcement came as a surprise to many because the five year Biological Weapons Convention review conference is believed to be relatively inconsequential. Clinton’s appearance, however, may change that perspective. She is tentatively scheduled give an address on December 7, according to GovExec.com.

Thomas Countryman, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said it would be the first time the U.S. government would be represented by such a high-level official at a BWC forum.

Countryman announced that Clinton would offer a series of specific proposals to increase the world capacity to detect and respond to global disease outbreaks, to ensure that scientific and industrial communities keep new technologies and materials safe from misuse and to strengthen the implementation of the 1975 biological weapons convention.

Experts believe Clinton’s presence could draw substantial attention to an issue that otherwise receives only moderate notice. Predictions were that the BWC review conference would go unnoticed on the world stage.

"It's a shock," Barry Kellman, the head of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University's College of Law in Chicago, said, GovExec reports. "I hope what she puts on the table is worthy of her appearance."