Scientific advances could challenge BWC

Member states of the Biological Weapons Convention expressed concern on Friday during a meeting in Geneva that advances in technology could undermine the convention by making diseases more immune system-resistant or communicable.

The final report from the BWC's annual meeting said that the scientific advances could result in both benefits and challenges for the convention that might require the member states to take action. The attendees continued to encourage using dual-use technology for peaceful purposes.

"(The member states should have) the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes and not to hamper (their) economic and technological development," the report said.

During the five day meeting, the member states discussed governmental confidence-building measures, the national implementation of convention rules, peaceful biological cooperation between nations and important scientific advances related to the convention.

While France made a proposal for nations of similar size to look at each other's procedures for implementing the BWC, the final report dealt with the issue more ambiguously.

"(The member states agree to continue) discussion on sharing best practices and experiences, including the voluntary exchange of information among states parties," the report said.

The BWC meeting was attended by 101 member nations and five observer states. The meeting was an intersessional process held between the BWC review conferences that occur every five years.