News from 2009

  • NSABB hosts an international dialogue on Dual Use Concerns in Life Sciences Research – On October 22, 2009, the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored its first regional Webinar on dual use research, hosted by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). The goal of the event was to foster international engagement of life sciences researchers, biosafety and biosecurity experts, government policy officials, and ethicists on the issue of dual use life sciences research. Effective global dialogue on concerns and issues regarding dual use life sciences research is key to achieving an effective balance between public health priorities and national security concerns. Numerous national- and international-level activities are currently underway to raise awareness of the risks posed by dual use life sciences research as well as to address or manage these risks while, at the same time, promoting responsible life sciences research. This international Videocast focused on the Americas is the first in a series of internet-based meetings aimed at engaging the international community by region.
  • EU Joint Action in Support of BWC launches CBM Guide – the Guide to Participation in the Confidence-Building Measures of the BWC is officially released on 8 December 2009 at the Meeting of States Parties. It contains an introduction to the CBMs, practicalities for submission, information on getting started and identifying resources and contacts, detailed guidance on completing the forms, examples of completed forms, suggestions for dealing with subsequent submissions, as well as sources of advice and assistance.
  • Chairman hold consulations in advance of 2009 MSP – throughout the second half of November Ambassador Grinius has been meeting with interested parties to discuss his plans for the Meeting of States Parties. His remarks at these meetings covered his general approach, the Programme of Work, his desire to achieve and action based outcome, as well as the topics of universalization and Confidence-Building Measures.
  • Chairman outlines plans for Meeting of States Parties – on 15 October, the Chairman of the Meeting of States Parties, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada, wrote to States Parties to outline his plans for the meeting which will be held in Geneva from 7-11 December 2009. Attached to the letter was the Chairman’s synthesis of ideas and proposals made at the Meeting of Experts in August.
  • Workshop on the BWC – The BWC Implementation Support Unit in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre are pleased to announce aworkshop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 20 to 21 October 2009. The event will cover the current biological weapons threat, overlaps between the BWC and UN Security Council Resolution 1540, national implementation, assistance, cooperation, coordination, confidence-building measures, scientific and technological developments, as well as regional and national perspectives and activities. A press release for the event is now available.
  • Regional BWC Workshop in the Caucuses and Central Asia – Held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 16-17 September, 2009, this workshop brought together over fifty representatives from seven countries in this region. Funded by Canada, participants ranged from technical health and agriculture specialists to national defence and trade representatives. Follwing opening remarks by the Chair, Ambassador Grinius of Canada, participants heard presentations from experts of the BWC’s three depositary states (UK, US and Russia), as well as the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and the civil society organisation VERTIC. In addition to raising awareness about capacity-building opportunities, the seminar provided regional practitioners an opportunity to exchange information and views on common threats and best practices, with a view to advancing this year’s intersessional topic of building capacity and collaboration.
  • Workshop on the International Health Regulations – The BWC Implementation Support Unit in cooperation with the WHO held a one day workshop on the revised International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) on 21 August. Click here for more information.
  • European Union to launch Joint Action in support of the BWC – All delegations are invited to the official launch of the EU Joint Action in support of the Biological Weapons Convention, which will be held at lunchtime on the opening day of the Meeting of Experts, Monday 24 August 2009, in Room XXIII. Further information on the Joint Action is available here.
  • ISU releases advance copies of first three background papers – Advance copies of the first three background papers for the Meeting of Experts (24-28 August 2009) were released today. The first paper looks at Recent Developments in Intergovernmental Organizations Relevant To Disease Surveillance, Detection, Diagnosis and Containment . The second paper examines Recent International, Regional and Non-Governmental Developments relevant to Disease Surveillance, Detection, Diagnosis and Containment . The third paper covers Previous Agreements and Understandings under the Convention Relevant to Capacity Building in the Fields of Disease Surveillance, Detection, Diagnosis and Containment. All three papers have been submitted as official documents of the meeting and are in the process of being translated into the remaining official langauges of the UN and will be available soon.
  • Chairman releases more details of plans for Meeting of Experts – In his third letter to States Parties, dated 20 July 2009, Ambassador Marius Grinius outlined his thinking in the final approach to the Meeting of Experts due to take place from 24 to 28 August 2009. The letter provides details of the planned schedule, arrangements for the poster session, the practicalities of making statements and presentations, information on registration, an update on sponsorship efforts and his continued efforts to get feedback from delegations.
  • Registration opens for the Meeting of Experts: Registration for the 2009 Meeting of Experts, to be held in Gemeva from 24 to 28 August 2009, is now open. Delegations are encouraged to register their participation as early as possible. See the registration section of the Meeting of Experts page for registration procedures.
  • Chair sends message to international workshop on building capacity for health security – the International Workshop on the Biological Weapons Convention Supporting Global Health: Reducing Biological Risk by Building Capacity in Health Security, took place in Oslo, Norway from 18 to 19 June 2009. The event was organised by Norway, Indonesia and the Implementation Support Unit. The 2009 BWC Chair sent a message to the meeting, which was delivered by Mr Donald Sinclair, Director General, International Security Bureau, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
  • Chairman’s second meeting with regional groups: the Chairman will meet the Group of NAM and Other States, the Western Group and the Eastern European Group on 28 May to discuss preparations for the Meeting of Experts. In advance of the meetings, the Chairman released his talking points.
  • Second letter from 2009 Chair to BWC States Parties – On 24 April 2009 Ambassador Marius Grinius wrote again to States Parties to brief them on his progress in preparing for the 24-28 August Meeting of Experts (MX). In his letter, the Chair included a ‘to do’ list for States Parties, including: reviewing proposed arrangements for the MX (attached to the letter); identifying experts for national delegations; starting work on substantive contributions; identify need for, or ability to provide, assistance on this year’s topic; look into sponsoring participation at the MX; pursue universalization commitments; and take part in the annual CBMs.
  • Chairman to meet regional groups: the Chairman, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada, will meet the Eastern European Group on 26 February and the Western Group and the Group of NAM and Other States on 27 February. In advance of the meetings, the Chairman released his talking points.
  • BWC 2009 Chairman reveals plans for the year – In a letter to States Parties, dated 6 February, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada highlighted his three priority areas for 2009. His first goal was to ensure that BWC meetings continue the successes of previous years and make best use of existing precedents and working practices. The Chair’s second aim is to focus sustained effort on the universalization of the Convention, including bilateral and regional activities. The third area of focus is on Confidence-Building Measures, where the Chair is keen to ensure that the most is made of exisiting assistance to encourage States Parties to participate in the information exchange regime. In an attachment to his letter, Ambassador Grinius outlined, in more detail, some of his plans for the Meeting of Experts (24-28 August 2009), including: requests for feedback from States Parties on how to proceed; thoughts on structured engagement; an action based outcome for 2009; suggested background papers and tools; information States Parties might wish to provide; opportunities to help others participate; as well as thoughts on next steps.