Clinton Addresses Biological Weapons Conference In Geneva
December 7, 2011

Clinton Addresses Biological Weapons Conference In Geneva

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today addressed the Biological Weapons Convention -- a 1975 treaty outlawing their production and use -- in Geneva.

Clinton is seeking to rally international efforts against the biological weapon threat, warning of the potential that new gene assembly technology could be used by terrorist groups to create new biological weapons.

She said the emerging gene synthesis industry offers benefits to researchers “but it could also potentially be used to assemble the components of a deadly organism.”

Clinton will also call for a working group to make the BWC “a more robust forum” for helping prevent disease outbreaks, whether natural, deliberate or accidental.

“The Secretary will deliver the US national statement at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Review Conference, where we hope to revitalize international efforts against biological threats,” a State Department note said ahead of her address.

“It´s a reflection of how seriously the US treats the convention. It needs serious attention at the highest levels,” said conference secretary general Richard Lennane.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also addressed the BWC conference, urging State Parties to the international convention on biological weapons to boost cooperation on the peaceful use of biological science and technology to ensure that it is used for the benefit of humanity and not the downfall.

In a video message to the seventh review conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, Ban said the treaty is central to the global disarmament and weapons non-proliferation framework.

“Over the past five years, States parties have developed common understandings aimed at better implementation of this critical instrument,” said Ban. “The parties have also built a vibrant network of concerned groups and individuals. “

“It helps to ensure that biological science and technology can be developed safely and securely — so that they bring benefits, not danger,” he added.

The Biological Weapons Convention opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is a key element, along with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention, in the international community´s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The meeting has taken place every five years and will see signatory states consider updating the convention and discuss the implications of scientific and technological developments. Some 165 States are parties to the Convention, with another 12 having signed but not yet ratified.

“There was a range of views but quite a lot of common ground and certainly no sharp disagreements at this stage. It's an encouraging start,” said Lennane.

The conference ends December 22.


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