BWC States-Parties Meeting Yields Little

States-parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) met in Geneva Nov. 10-14 to discuss the wide variety of national legislation that has been passed related to the convention, but they avoided offering specific recommendations in their final report. The meeting was the first of three annual “interim meetings” that will be convened prior to the 2006 review conference.

The structure of the meetings—and the decision not to use them to make any binding decisions—stems from the breakdown two years ago of long-standing efforts to draft a protocol outlining enforcement and compliance measures to the BWC. (See ACT, January/February 2002.) After a year-long hiatus following the suspension of the 2001 review conference, the U.S. delegation last year strongly objected to the idea of states conducting substantive work outside of the review conferences. Eventually, the United States and other member states agreed to convene the three “interim” meetings as a compromise. Results of the discussions will be forwarded to the 2006 review conference, which may decide on further action. (See ACT, December 2002.)