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Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Volume 619: debated on Tuesday 10 January 2017

The eighth review conference to the biological and toxin weapons convention held in Geneva concluded on 25 November 2016.

At the review conference, states parties agreed a final declaration reaffirming their continued commitment to the convention’s objectives and their determination to exclude completely the possibility of the use of biological weapons. States parties reviewed the operation of the convention and expressed views on its articles. States parties agreed that the prohibitions in article I, defining the scope of the convention, apply to all scientific and technological developments in the life sciences and in other fields of science relevant to the convention that have no peaceful purpose.

The conference also agreed to:

Hold meetings of states parties of up to five days every year before the next review conference in 2021. The first meeting in December 2017 will seek progress on issues of substance and process, aiming to agree a substantive programme of work up to 2021.

Renew for five years the mandate of the three-person implementation support unit, which serves as a focal point and support for states parties’ work under the convention.

Continue to seek improvements to the convention’s assistance and co-operation database and to ensure specific, timely and concrete offers to states parties seeking assistance under the convention.

Renew the sponsorship programme to support participation by states parties otherwise unable to attend key meetings, funded by voluntary contributions.

The United Kingdom worked closely with other European Union member states and like-minded partners in preparatory meetings and at the review conference to secure an outcome which strengthened implementation of the convention. Despite our best efforts and the support of an overwhelming majority of states parties, a more ambitious work plan proved impossible to secure.

The UK will continue to support work in this field, addressing substantive issues with like-minded states parties and others; where necessary, we will do so outside the formal framework of convention-sponsored meetings. The UK will engage constructively in future annual meetings of states parties to support and strengthen the convention which remains a foundation stone of the international non-proliferation system.