From 11 - 13 September 2011, the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Wilton Park, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the BWC Implementation Support Unit jointly hosted the international workshop on “Prospects for the 2011 BWC Review Conference", in the Hague, Netherlands. The workshop was intended to provide an opportunity for BWC States Parties to discuss the full range of issues surrounding the BWC and its implementation, in order to prepare for the Seventh Review Conference of the BWC, which will be held 5 - 22 December 2011.
At the workshop, It was decided that in terms of the success criterion, concrete proposals for action need to be developed. In this respect preparations for the Review Conference reached a critical juncture: where ‘agreeing that something needs to be done’ moves from vague discussion into designing concrete proposals for presentation. The proposed areas for action included: confidence-enhancing measures; the future of the Implementation Support Unit and the intersessional work program; issues relating to co-operation and assistance; and issues relating to verification and compliance.
Participants agreed that the relationship between the co-operation and assistance aspects and security aspirations is evolving and the Article X debate is being reframed in a manner which is allowing many of the obstacles which previously prevented meaningful discussions to be removed. They also agreed that essential to ensuring that the BWC remains robust in the next decade is the ability to adequately identify and address rapid advancements in science and technology which are occurring in areas relevant to the convention. Several proposals emerged which States Parties might consider, which are discussed further in the Official Conference Report.
The intersessional process was widely regarded as a success and should continue. However several limitations of the current format were highlighted so that States Parties might consider reforming the process at the upcoming Review Conference. These include in inability of the Meetings of States Parties to take decisions and the current inflexible process of selecting topics for the meetings several years in advance. It was suggested that if there is to be a substantial change in the work of the intersessional meetings that the mandate and workload of the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) be revisited.
To read more about the proposals, discussions, and outcomes of the Clingendael workshop see the Official Conference Report.