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BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION – MEETING OF STATES PARTIES IN GENEVA FROM 9 TO 13 DECEMBER
6 December 2013

The 2013 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 9 to 13 December 2013, chaired by Ms. Judit Körömi, Special Representative of the Foreign Minister of Hungary for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation. The Meeting is open to all States Parties and signatories to the Biological Weapons Convention. It will commence at 10 a.m. on Monday 9 December in Conference Room XVIII (Building E, 1st floor, Door 40).

The meeting is the second of four annual Meetings of States Parties in the 2012-2015 intersessional programme leading up to the Eighth BWC Review Conference in 2016. The meeting will take stock of progress made since the 2011 Seventh Review Conference, including the work of the Meetings of Experts, and will examine further steps to be taken to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and improve its effectiveness as a practical barrier against the development or use of biological weapons. The meeting will consider:

· International cooperation and assistance - how States Parties can work together to build relevant capacity;
· Review of developments in the field of science and technology relevant to the BWC - how States Parties keep up with the rapid pace of advances in the life sciences and their implications for the Convention;
· Ways and means to strengthen national implementation of the Convention - how States Parties work domestically to prevent disease being used as a weapon;
· Enhancement of participation in the Confidence Building Measures - how States Parties can better exchange information to increase transparency and build confidence in compliance.

The Chairman said that a rich variety of material on these topics had been presented at the Meeting of Experts in August 2013, which succeeded in "bringing in more voices" to discussions. BWC States Parties benefitted from "a wide range of perspectives from agencies in both developed and developing countries, from international organizations, from professional and scientific associations, from academia and NGOs, and from the private sector". The Chairman went on to say that "States Parties must now take this wealth of information and ideas and consider how they might transform it into common understandings and effective action".

As this is the second year of a four-year programme, there are expectations that States Parties will build upon, and further develop, the common understandings reached in 2012. The Chairman is has advocated that the meeting adopt a forward-looking approach, noting that "we should focus on new, updated or additional material, rather than re-stating or re-working our 2012 conclusions".

While work will continue next year on three of the four topics addressed in 2012 and 2013, the 2013 Meeting of States Parties is the last time that increasing participation in annual exchanges of information, or Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), will be considered under a specific agenda item. Next year, States Parties will move onto a new biennial item: how to strengthen implementation of Article VII, which deals with providing assistance to States Parties in the case of use of biological weapons, including consideration of detailed procedures and mechanisms for the provision of assistance and cooperation by States Parties.

The 2013 meeting will also consider progress with universalization of the Convention, which currently has 170 States Parties, and review the work if the Implementation Support Unit, created in 2006 to assist states in meeting their obligations under the treaty. There will also be a full schedule of side events organized by states, and organizations and professional bodies. These provide a unique space to explore some of the issues surrounding the BWC in more depth and in a more relaxed setting.

Formally referred to as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the treaty opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It currently has 170 States Parties, with an additional 10 states having signed but not yet ratified the Convention.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Richard Lennane
Head, BWC Implementation Support Unit
Tel: +41 (0)22 917 22 30
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 04 83
E-mail: rlennane@unog.ch

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For use of the information media; not an official record

DC13/042E