Annual BWC conference underway in Geneva

The 2012 Meeting of the States Parties of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention is currently underway in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The states parties agreed to discuss three standing agenda items at the conference during their weeklong July Meeting of Experts, which include general cooperation and assistance, particularly under Article X; a review of science and technology related to the BWC; and strengthening the compliance and national implementation of the treaty.

Ambassador Boujemaa Delmi of Algeria, who recently replaced Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, will chair the meeting. He will be assisted in his duties by two vice-chairs, Dr. Cezary Lusinski of Poland and Ambassador Urs Schmid of Switzerland.

A number of papers from the states parties, as well as the chair's synthesis paper, have been submitted as formal documents relating to the topics under discussion so their contents could be considered before the start of the meeting.

Canada issued an information paper on Article X to be circulated among the states parties. Article X covers the issue of access to potential dangerous life sciences for peaceful purposes. The subject is becoming more important as recent years have seen an advance in the pace of technological developments. Recent years have also seen a growing number of discrepancies among the state parties relating to Article X.

Cooperation and assistance and strengthening national implementation of the BWC are also directly related to the debate over Article X. The first report from the meeting states that changing technology has led to the alterations in the nature of risks and threats regimes may need to counter, as well as the opportunities for peaceful uses of new technology.

The BioWeapons Prevention Project plans to produce daily reports from the meeting. The reports were initially designed to aid those who are not present in Geneva to follow events. They are also now widely circulated among the delegates.