Scientists Working Group on Chemical and Biological WeaponsCenter for Arms Control and NonproliferationWashington D.C – December, 9 2013NGO Statement to the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons ConventionDistinguished delegates and guests, the Scientists Working Group welcomes this opportunity to address the States Parties to the BWC. We wish to address the on-going topic of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
After years of neglect, the Biological Weapon Convention’s CBMs received only a marginal make-over at the Seventh Review Conference in 2011. For the second and last time during the intersessional process, state parties have an opportunity at this Meeting of States Parties to explore options for enabling fuller participation in the CBMs.
The surest way to expand and deepen participation in the treaty’s CBMs, the only formal mechanism for increasing transparency and demonstrating compliance with the treaty, is to make the CBMs more relevant to the needs of the treaty’s state parties. The CBMs have not been significantly updated since the end of the Cold War and need to be modernized to address the changes that have occurred in the global scientific, health, and security environments over the past twenty years. The scope of the CBMs should be expanded beyond state-run biological warfare programs to encompass a broader array of threats to global security, such as biological terrorism, laboratory accidents, dual-use research, and disease pandemics. Modernizing the CBM mechanism to take into account these new risks would extend the transparency-enhancing benefits of CBMs to a range of new and important topics, such as biosafety, laboratory biosecurity, and dual-use research oversight; make the CBMs and the treaty itself more relevant to the concerns and priorities of more states; and build on progress made during the recent series of intersessional meetings. To accomplish this, the CBMs need to be revised to shift their focus from hardware, the dual-use capabilities relevant to the treaty, to software, the political and legal institutions that govern the development and use of these capabilities. A more modern CBM mechanism should encourage greater participation in the confidence-building process, improve international cooperation against the full spectrum of biological risks, and promote the goal of universal membership in the treaty.
Thank you for your time and attention.