Compliance with the BTWC: strategies towards the 2016 Review Conference (WP1416)
Image: John Lamb Photography Limited
This dialogue assessed how to construct consensus on possible concrete measures to promote compliance with the Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), how consensus on such measures might be constructed before the 2016 BTWC Review, and how they could be adopted and then effectively implemented by States Parties.
The emphasis was on developing initiatives for the Eighth Review Conference, and the dialogue designed to produce implementable outcomes.
Key points to come out of the meeting:
Verification and compliance issues remain unresolved, despite significant support among States Parties for further strengthening of the Convention. There are limits to what outcomes can realistically be achieved, given the lack of attention the BTWC receives from the international community and the limited resources states can and will devote to it.
The next Review Conference offers an opportunity to assess a number of possible compliance mechanisms, including peer review processes and an Open-Ended Working Group on future negotiations on a legally-binding protocol.
The 2016 Review Conference’s agenda will also need to address other ways to strengthen and develop the Convention, including revising the Intersessional Work Programme, enhancing the S&T review process, and improving the capacity to investigate use of biological weapons or respond to an outbreak.
Peer review, such as the pilot process by France in 2013 and the current BENELUX exercise, offers one means by which States Parties can provide information about their compliance and assess the data provided by others, and the States that have been participating in these exercises will likely be able to offer a number of lessons learned from their experiences.
Russia has proposed establishing an Open-Ended Working Group at the 2016 Review Conference to begin drafting proposals to be included in a legally binding protocol to the BTWC.
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