Rising Out of the Doldrums: Report on the BWC Review Conference

30 April 2007

Richard Guthrie

States parties to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) met in Geneva for their Sixth Review Conference from November 20 to December 8, 2006, energetically chaired by Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan. As discussed in Nicholas Sims' article in Disarmament Diplomacy last year,[1] BWC meetings have been "in the doldrums" since the suspension in 2001 of the Ad Hoc Group negotiations to strengthen the Convention, with disagreements between states on some highly sensitive political and technical issues. However, following an active intersessional process and conference preparations, the Sixth Review Conference concluded with a much more positive result than many had expected. It may not have met all the desires of all the states parties, but sufficient progress was made on enough issues for all participating states parties to feel a sense of achievement.

Background

BWC states parties have held review conferences at roughly five-yearly intervals since the treaty's entry into force in 1975.[2] Review conferences are intended for the states parties to carry out a full review of the purposes and the provisions of the Convention, taking into account relevant scientific and technological developments, as laid out in Article XII of the BWC. The review conferences are also seen as an opportunity to reaffirm commitments and enhance understanding of the treaty. The Sixth Review Conference followed a notably turbulent period in relations between BWC states parties, after the Fifth Review Conference in 2001 (resumed in 2002) failed to reach consensus on a review of the Convention, notably due to the collapse of negotiations on a verification protocol.

This article will review the conduct of the Sixth Review Conference, looking at the work of the states parties in preparation for the meeting as well as their contributions to the Conference itself. It will discuss the key points of states parties' positions and contributions, highlight the novel aspects developed by the Conference, and analyse its outcome.

The run up to the Review Conference

There was an early start to the preparations for the Sixth Review Conference as Pakistan's Geneva ambassador, Masood Khan, was proposed as President-designate in April 2005 - substantially earlier than normally achieved. His early designation enabled Khan to consult with key figures for some 18 months before the start of the Conference itself. [3] A Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting held in April 2006 adopted a provisional agenda for the Review Conference and allowed for more consultations between states parties on the margins of the formal meeting. Further, in the period between the PrepCom and the Review Conference, the President-designate spent a considerable time in consultations with states parties, including taking advantage of other disarmament-related gatherings such as the First Committee of the UN General Assembly to meet with governmental and civil society representatives. He also attended other events, such as the Tokyo BWC seminar held in February 2006, as well as a number of academic symposia, including a Wilton Park conference in Britain in October 2006. These preparations facilitated the work of the Review Conference.

Also preceding the Sixth Review Conference was the programme of work adopted at the end of the resumed Fifth Review Conference, which became known as the 'intersessional process'. This work programme, covering the period 2003-05, consisted of an annual one-week Meeting of States Parties, preceded each year by a two-week Meeting of Experts.[4] At the time this work programme was agreed, there had been doubts about the usefulness of the intersessional process, with a certain amount of support simply deriving from the situation that it was 'the only game in town'. Concerns were expressed that the Meetings of States Parties were unable to take decisions, that the topics were too tightly drawn with no opportunity to revisit subjects discussed in earlier years, and that they were no substitute for formal negotiations.

As the meetings progressed, however, a broad consensus developed that the intersessional process was useful and embodied some important progress. It enabled a focus on particular practical subjects; the political attention ensured that states kept people in post with a focus on biological issues and thus maintained a body of expertise and experience that might otherwise have been dispersed; and, to some extent, it overcame the negative atmosphere existing at the time of the demise of the protocol negotiations. These achievements in turn set the scene for an effective PrepCom, which in turn had a positive impact on the Review Conference.

Before the Conference, a number of issues had been anticipated to be politically sensitive. Notably, the subject of possible verification measures has been controversial in BWC states parties' meetings since at least the Ad Hoc Group negotiations (1995-2001). Similarly, Article X of the BWC (which relates to peaceful scientific and technological aspects) has also been an area of differing perspectives between states parties. In the lead up to the Sixth Review Conference this was seen as important by some states but as less significant by others. As detailed below, there had been disagreements on whether the BWC would benefit from some kind of formal central support arrangements to promote implementation. The utility of such a support unit was contested in some quarters; barely a few weeks before the Review Conference there were indications that the creation of any form of central support mechanism would be resisted by a number of states parties, the most notable of which was the United States. In addition, a question mark existed over the possible continuation of the intersessional process initiated by the Fifth Review Conference.

One suggestion around which there was growing consensus was that 'action plans' should be introduced, analogous to those in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), aimed at supporting implementation and universality. Before the Review Conference, there were also a number of discussions between states parties on the issues of universality, national implementation issues, and the role of confidence-building measures (CBMs).

Overview of the Review Conference

The Sixth BWC Review Conference began with two days of General Debate consisting of general statements; this was open to observers other than states parties' representatives. It then moved to the Committee of the Whole (CoW), chaired by Ambassador Doru Costea (Romania), which was concerned with the 'Article by Article Review' of the BWC. The meetings of the CoW were interspersed with informal plenary sessions (known as the 'thematic debate') each focusing on cross-cutting issues including CBMs, the proposed implementation support unit, and the possible continuation of the intersessional process. After the first week, the President also allocated particular subjects to smaller meetings for informal consultations, each co-ordinated by a senior ambassador. As these activities were carried out in parallel, it is not always possible to ascribe breakthroughs to particular individual meetings or consultations.

Much of the discussion revolved around what would be included in the contents of a new intersessional work programme. This was a departure from what many analysts expected - it had been widely assumed that the question of whether there would be a future intersessional work programme at all would be the subject of much discussion at the Review Conference. However, Ambassador Khan appeared to have obtained an early consensus that such a new programme should be pursued. A second early agreement - that there should be some form of central arrangement for implementation support - was also unexpected.

By the end of the first week the suggested texts from states parties for inclusion in the final declaration appeared broadly compatible. However, most of this text came from western states that might be expected to have similar views on the issues of concern. The take-up of ideas and proposals from the Group of Non-Aligned States and Others (NAM) was clearly hindered by the late presentation of their papers.[5]

The second week saw a draft of the final declaration circulated by the President. This embodied most points raised by states parties during the Conference to that point, and on these issues may be seen as a fair reflection of the debate. While the key Article X and future work programme issues were not yet resolved, there was considerable agreed text.[6] It was clear at this stage that resolving Article X issues might be difficult, and that consequently the Conference might not finish before late on Friday night of the third week, contrary to the hopes of some states which wanted to finish earlier.[7]

The final week was fairly typical for this sort of event - 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed'. States with strongly held views hold out until the final hours in an attempt to maximise their bargaining position. So it was that two states parties - Iran and the United States[8] - were involved in consultations until the early hours of Friday morning. While they discussed their issues, notably Article X concerns, there were also a number of minor textual changes being raised. Once the formal meetings on Friday morning started there was significant progress on textual changes, several of which fell into place as a consequence of the overnight consultations. In a number of cases this was achieved through the time-honoured method of 'consensus by deletion' - if you can't agree to it, get rid of it. During the late afternoon, a further version of the draft declaration was circulated (cited as paper CRP.4). In open plenary, some oral amendments were made to this document, a number of which had needed late consultations - such as the dates for the 2007 intersessional meetings.

Several practical aspects impacted on the functioning of the Review Conference. In his introductory statement, the President encouraged delegates to be focussed, saying "We must produce a concise and accessible outcome document that records our understandings and commitments in a way that communicates them clearly to a broad audience...". The emphasis on achieving succinct and effective text was reinforced by the drafting process in this Review Conference. In previous conferences, the CoW would produce a compilation of the submissions of suggested text relating to each article and a second body, the Drafting Committee, would use this as the basis for putting together the text of the final document. At the Sixth Review Conference, however, no meetings of the Drafting Committee were held. The President allocated subject areas for discussion to different coordinators of informal working groups and used the results from these to contribute to the final text. Hence, most of the drafting work was carried out through informal consultations or informal plenaries.[9]

Two new sub-regional groupings appeared for the 2006 Review Conference, enabling the development and presentation of joint positions. Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand formed an informal grouping known as 'JACKSNNZ' (pronounced 'jacksons' and sometimes referred to as the Jackson-7). Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay also collaborated closely. Each of these new groupings was brought together to pursue a like-minded approach to the issues and objectives under consideration, and each produced a number of formal working papers, which they presented to the Conference. As noted above, the late presentation of NAM papers hindered the uptake of their ideas. Significantly, this also at times delayed consensus on specific issues.

Interestingly, a new word entered the language of disarmament diplomacy with the adoption of the term 'romanito'. This was coined during consultations between representatives of Cuba and Italy, and used to describe the lower case roman numerals as paragraph numbers.

The General Debate

After the opening of the Review Conference, including a speech by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, states parties presented on-the-record statements during the General Debate. Thirty-one presentations were given by states parties during the first day;[10] and ten presentations on the second.[11] Of the signatory (not party) states present, Syria requested the floor for a right of reply and Egypt made a general statement, connecting its non-ratification of the BWC with Israel's non-signature to the Convention and that country's alleged possession of nuclear weapons

As mentioned earlier, there had been very active preparations prior to the Review Conference, with bilateral and group discussions among states parties, with the aim of reaching a positive outcome. This led to there being few surprises in the statements, many of which were of a similar character. Most states parties mentioned universality, national implementation issues, the benefits of the past intersessional process, the role of CBMs, and advances in the life sciences. Many called for a follow-on intersessional process. Few states parties directly referred to Article X issues, although a larger number did refer to subjects that are sometimes seen as falling within this article, such as disease surveillance and strengthening public health. While a number of states parties noted that they wished, in the long term, to see the development of formal measures to verify compliance with the Convention, they also noted a desire to reach agreement in the short term on a package of practical measures. The majority of statements referred to some form of central support arrangements, such as an implementation support unit.

The highlights of the General Debate included the following (in the order that statements were presented). Finland, on behalf of the European Union (EU) noted that all 25 EU member states had filed CBM returns during 2006. The United States made a long statement, detailed below. Germany referred to data that showed more than 10 per cent of students in Germany studying the natural sciences, including the biological sciences, were from other countries. Malaysia noted there was no provision in the Convention for annual meetings of states parties, and expressed an interest in formalising the convening of regular annual meetings. The United Kingdom drew attention to a recent UK seminar on codes of practice, and promised that a working paper on the subject would be submitted. Iran proposed that an explicit reference to the prohibition of use of biological weapons should be inserted into the Convention. Pakistan noted the BWC "effectively prohibits" the use of biological weapons. The French delegation spoke of the efforts by France and Switzerland to encourage states to lift their remaining reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Venezuela spoke of the balances needed in regulation between the prevention of misuse and the promotion of beneficial use of the life sciences. Sudan said that it was introducing new legislation to parliament to implement the BWC. Thailand described its domestic arrangements for implementation which include a "BWC Coordinating Committee".

The United States gave the longest statement of the General Debate, presented by Assistant Secretary of State John C. Rood. Regarding the past intersessional process as having been constructive, the US called for a follow-on process and suggested that two topics addressed previously deserved further attention - disease surveillance and biosecurity - and that two further topics deserved a new approach - enforcement of national legislation and national activities relating to codes of conduct. Noting the successes of the Action Plans of the CWC - designed to improve universality and national implementation - the US called for similar action plans for the BWC context. The US made explicit reference to Iran and North Korea (both BWC states parties) and Syria (a BWC signatory state) in its statement, citing concerns that each of these states was carrying out activities towards offensive biological warfare capabilities. In its statement, Iran "categorically denied" what it described as these "baseless allegations", and Syria, though not a party, used its right of reply to deny the US allegations.

Other statements

International organisations and UN specialised agencies also made statements to the Conference.[12] The Red Cross spoke of the need to create a "culture of responsibility" within the scientific community. Other statements focussed on how the operational activities of the relevant organisations overlapped with issues within the remit of the BWC. There was also an opportunity for NGOs to address an informal plenary session.[13]

Article-by-Article Review

The core of the process of reviewing the Convention was the examination of the operation of each of its articles. The text resulting from this article-by-article review formed the 'Final Declaration' - a significant part of the Final Document of the Review Conference. Paragraph numbers in the following analysis relate to the paragraphs of the Final Declaration.[14]

As outlined above, the review of each of the articles of the Convention was carried out in the 'Committee of the Whole'. This started earlier than expected, on the afternoon of the first Tuesday, following early completion of the General Debate, leaving some states flustered and unprepared. Interestingly, it was decided to take the early meetings of the CoW to be an expression of views relating to each article, rather than an attempt to reach consensus at this stage. It was thought that, putting all proposals for language relating to the operation of each article on the table at an early stage, there would be a chance for considered reflection on all the relevant issues.

At first sight, this decision enabled the CoW to proceed at a rapid rate: the meeting of the CoW on Wednesday morning had been allocated to consider Articles I to IV, but by lunch-time it had covered Articles V and VI and was into Articles VII to X, and by the end of the afternoon session, Article XII was under consideration. However, there many proposals were absent, most significantly from the NAM. The NAM states clearly had a desire to present language proposals but their complicated group procedures meant that they were not in a position to do so quickly.[15] As a consequence, the CoW returned to certain subjects once the NAM states had completed their consultations.

The first sessions of the CoW were allocated to consider Articles I to IV.[16] A large part of the discussion in the first meeting focussed on whether 'use' was covered by the Convention or not. Article I of the BWC commits states not to "develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain" biological agents or toxins for non-permitted purposes - use is not specifically referred to.

All but one of the states parties that expressed a view on this appeared to share the understanding that a prohibition of use of biological weapons is implicit within the Convention - weapons can only be used if they have been possessed, an act that is clearly prohibited. Additionally, the Convention follows from the history of the 1925 Geneva Protocol which prohibits use.[17] However, Iran expressed the view that the provisions against use within the Geneva Protocol are not strong enough. As a country attacked with chemical weapons by a state party to the Geneva Protocol, Iran argued for amending the BWC to ensure such provisions against the use of biological weapons are strengthened. Other states parties doubted whether amending the treaty would strengthen the legal situation.[18]

Other significant discussions in the CoW concerned Articles IV, VI, VII and X. Article IV, dealing with national implementation, was discussed at length following the re-examination of national implementation in the 2003-05 intersessional process. The opening paragraph of the section in the Final Document is a much more detailed outlining of national implementation requirements than had been given before, including a stronger reference to penal legislation, which had previously been given as an example of possible national measures under the Convention. Although the overlap between implementation measures under the Convention and those under UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1540 is not dealt with directly, the possible use of information provided by states under resolution 1540 is recognised in paragraph 17.

Other aspects of the intersessional process were also dealt with under Article IV discussions. Surveillance and detection of outbreaks of disease, discussed in the 2004 meetings, are directly addressed in paragraph 13 of the Final Document for the first time under this Article; such concerns were dealt with in the past under Article X (see below). Training, education and awareness-raising are dealt with in paragraphs 14 and 15 in line with discussions that took place in the codes of conduct meetings held in 2005. This draws from extensive discussions and debate in recent years that illustrated the need to bring many players into biological control regimes, in addition to the organs of governments. The need for enhanced national implementation raised concerns within some states parties that the costs of creating domestic controls might be prohibitive. The Conference therefore urged states with experience in this area to assist states preparing their implementation (paragraph 16). The Conference also urged states to nominate a point of contact in relation to implementation and assistance (paragraph 18).

The question of how to deal with a complaint of a breach of the Convention, the subject of Article VI, was also much discussed at the Review Conference. As investigation of complaints is a key aspect of verification arrangements in many international agreements, the language used for discussion on this issue was generally presented in very careful terms during the Review Conference. Some other discussions focussed on the UN Secretary-General's (UNSG) mechanism to investigate allegations of breaches of "the 1925 Geneva Protocol or other relevant rules of customary international law" (i.e., allegations of use of biological or chemical weapons), which was last used in 1992. Some states parties indicated that they felt that the UNSG mechanism was a distraction from attempts to find a way of creating a full system of verification.

In the discussions on Article VII, the Review Conference addressed one of the weaknesses of the text of the BWC - that a danger must come from a state party to the Convention - by introducing language in paragraph 38 referring to dangers from "anyone other than States Parties" which would include states not party to the BWC as well as non-state entities. The Final Declaration, in paragraph 34, also reflects the recognition of a wider number of international organisations of relevance to the Convention.

Of all the articles of the BWC, Article X (which relates to technical co-operation) proved to be the one for which there was the greatest divergence of views among states parties, making it necessary for the 2006 Conference to spend substantial time discussing Article X-related issues. There exists a balance to be struck between this article and Article III, which prohibits assistance for prohibited activities through transfers or other methods. In the end, states parties were able to agree text that "the Conference urges States Parties to undertake to review their national regulations governing international exchanges and transfers in order to ensure their consistency with the objectives and provisions of all the articles of the Convention" (paragraph 52).

On disease surveillance, there is a difference in emphasis between Article X and Article IV (see above). Under Article IV, the Conference "reaffirms the commitment of States Parties to take the necessary national measures to strengthen methods and capacities for surveillance and detection of outbreaks of disease at the national, regional and international levels", whereas under Article X, the Conference "urges" states parties to "develop frameworks for disease surveillance in humans, animals and plants, and to support programmes for effective responses at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels" (paragraph 53).

In line with new text under other articles which now provide clearer descriptions of what activities are expected in implementing aspects of the Convention (see, for example, paragraph 11 relating to Article IV), paragraph 55 outlines activities states parties are encouraged by the Review Conference to carry out. A further addition for 2006 is the reference to the role of the private sector in technology transfers in paragraph 56 of the Final Declaration.

The Thematic Debates

The Intersessional Processes

One question for consideration at the Review Conference was how the 2003-05 intersessional process should feed into the Review Conference and how the lessons learned should be developed. India, for example, proposed detailed text acknowledging the output from the meetings and summarising conclusions reached within them. Some other states parties, desiring a shorter final document, wanted the Review Conference just to recognise what happened and move on to future business.

As it turned out, the final document of the Conference simply "notes" that the meetings "functioned as an important forum for exchange of national experiences and in depth deliberations among states parties" and that they "engendered greater common understanding on steps to be taken to further strengthen the implementation of the Convention". The Conference "endorses the consensus outcome documents"[19] from the Meeting of States Parties.

As mentioned above, there was early consensus that the intersessional process should continue. A quick decision was also taken that the future work programme should consist of an annual one-week Meeting of States Parties preceded each year by a one-week Meeting of Experts - rather than the two-week Meeting of Experts in the 2003-05 process. During the first week of the Review Conference it became clear that a two-week Meeting of Experts was a considerable financial burden on many states. A proposal was also made to hold the Meeting of Experts and the Meeting of States Parties back-to-back to save on travel costs, but this was not adopted. Holding the meetings at separate times of the year allows delegates to take things they have learned back to their countries after the Meeting of Experts, work out how they apply in their situation, and then attend the Meeting of States Parties to exchange experiences of how to deal with any outstanding issues. Back-to-back meetings would not allow this.

A number of other practical questions had to be addressed about how a new intersessional process should be organised. Examples of these questions include: should one or two topics be covered each year? Should the meetings be able to come to decisions? With four years of meetings, but three groupings of States Parties, how can chairs be allocated equitably, as there are four sets of meetings but only three regional groupings for the chairs to be allocated from?

While there was broad support for the continuation of the intersessional process, coming to a decision about which subjects should be included took substantial time. In addition to single-year topics for the meetings, it was suggested that there should be a number of "recurring topics" for which regular discussion and reporting back on progress could be valuable. The suggested recurring topics were: universality; national implementation; scientific and technological developments; CBMs; and coordination with other international bodies. The final text for the list of topics for individual Meetings of Experts and Meetings of States Parties - the intersessional meetings - was agreed during the last morning as:

  1. Ways and means to enhance national implementation, including enforcement of national legislation, strengthening of national institutions and coordination among national law enforcement institutions.
  2. Regional and sub-regional cooperation on BWC implementation.
  3. National, regional and international measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity, including laboratory safety and security of pathogens and toxins.
  4. Oversight, education, awareness raising, and adoption and/or development of codes of conduct with the aim to prevent misuse in the context of advances in bioscience and bio-technology research with the potential of use for purposes prohibited by the Convention.
  5. With a view to enhancing international cooperation, assistance and exchange in biological sciences and technology for peaceful purposes, promoting capacity building in the fields of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis, and containment of infectious diseases: (1) for States Parties in need of assistance, identifying requirements and requests for capacity enhancement, and (2) from States Parties in a position to do so, and international organisations, opportunities for providing assistance related to these fields.
  6. Provision of assistance and coordination with relevant organizations upon request by any State Party in the case of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons, including improving national capabilities for disease surveillance, detection and diagnosis and public health systems. [20]

It was also agreed that topics i and ii will be dealt with in 2007, iii and iv in 2008, v in 2009, and vi in 2010. It was proposed that the 2007 Meeting of Experts should be held August 20-24, and the Meeting of States Parties December 10-14. The President, Ambassador Khan, was nominated to chair the first set of annual meetings. The position of Chair for subsequent meetings would then rotate between the regional groups.

As there was some disagreement over what should be considered a recurring topic, compromise language was introduced such that the Meetings of States Parties may also discuss "universalisation and comprehensive implementation of the Convention". When delegates were asked what comprehensive implementation would mean in this context, the replies were essentially the topics suggested as recurring topics, listed above.

The Implementation Support Unit

As noted above, proposals for a central bureau or secretariat to assist states parties in their implementation of the BWC was seen as controversial prior to the Review Conference; in particular, the United States had opposed the idea of any institutional support mechanism almost until the start of the Conference. However, it turned out that there was broad support for the idea of establishing an Implementation Support Unit (ISU) within the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs (DDA).[21]

The final document of the Review Conference states that the ISU is to consist of three persons "within the DDA Branch in Geneva, funded by States Parties for the period from 2007-2011". The pre-Review Conference situation was that the two main members of staff in Geneva dealing with BWC meeting and conference support were constrained by their mandate from giving more general support services to BWC states parties. There was also a member of staff in DDA in New York dealing with the administration of CBM returns as one of their duties. Bringing these tasks together into one unit is therefore a modest yet significant increase in capability.

As discussed in more detail below, the Conference could not reach agreement on the action plans, viewed as a key responsibility for the ISU. As a result, the role of the ISU will for the time being be limited to "administrative support" and processing the CBM returns. However, the items listed under administrative support may allow some flexibility in the operation of the ISU. For example, the ISU is tasked with "Facilitating communication among States Parties", "Serving as a focal point for submission of information by and to States Parties related to the Convention" and "Supporting, as appropriate, the implementation by the States Parties of the decisions and recommendations of this Review Conference" - all of which might be subject to either a broad or narrow interpretation of the mandate. For example, if a number of states parties were to carry out activities that would have been part of one of the unadopted action plans they could carry out some of the tasks through the ISU under the administrative support arrangements. The broad interpretation of the mandate is supported by the agreed text itself, in which the ISU section of the final document reads: "Taking into account the importance of providing administrative support to meetings agreed by the Review Conference as well as comprehensive implementation and universalisation of the Convention and the exchange of Confidence-Building Measures...". [22] The phrase "comprehensive implementation" appears to be a leftover from the discussions on possible action plans, but though the action plans were not adopted, this phrase has been accepted as part of the consensus text.

The ISU's specific tasks include: developing electronic methods of submission for CBMs together with a secure website on CBMs to be accessible only to states parties, and serving as an information exchange point for assistance related to preparation of CBMs. The ISU should "regularly inform" states parties about CBM returns and provide statistics on the level of participation to each Meeting of States Parties. The ISU is also to keep lists of national points of contact in states parties in charge of preparing the submission of CBMs and for information exchange of universalisation efforts, as discussed further in the following section. It is to submit a "concise annual written report to all States Parties" on its activities. The ISU's performance will be evaluated and its mandate reviewed by states parties at the Seventh Review Conference in 2011.

The Universality Programme and the Action Plan Proposals

The success of the action plans on universality and on national implementation that have been carried out under the CWC is widely recognised and there was a clear desire to see if this success could be carried over into the equivalent biological arena.

Three initial proposals were made for action plans at the Review Conference: on universality, on national implementation, and on implementation of Article X (which relates to peaceful uses of the biological sciences). In the last week of the Conference, the latter two were combined into a new proposal by the President as an action plan on "comprehensive implementation". While this joint action plan was deleted as no consensus could be achieved on it, suggested texts for a universality action plan were submitted to the Review Conference by the Latin American informal group (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay), Australia, and Finland (on behalf of the EU). The first version of the final declaration drafted by the President after informal consultations and circulated on December 1, contained a text on universalisation that remained substantially unchanged for the rest of the Conference.

Under 'Promotion of Universalisation' - essentially the proposed action plan on universality - the Conference, noting that "with only 155 States Parties, membership of the Convention falls behind other major multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties", agrees that "concerted effort by States Parties" is needed to raise the level of membership. States parties are requested to promote universalisation of the Convention through bilateral contacts with states not parties and through regional and multilateral fora and activities. States parties should also inform the ISU of their designated national point of contact for facilitating information exchange of universalisation efforts, and provide, as appropriate, the ISU with relevant information on activities related to the promotion of universalisation of the Convention.

However, the ISU is not expected to coordinate activities as this is specifically designated as a task for the Chairs of Meetings of States Parties, who shall also address states not party to the Convention, provide an annual report on universalisation activities at meetings of states parties, and provide a progress report to the Seventh Review Conference, "bearing in mind the primary responsibility of the states parties on the implementation of this decision". Nevertheless, the ISU is specifically tasked to support the Chairs of Meetings of States Parties in the implementation of the universality decision, support states parties by maintaining a list of national points of contact, and consolidate and make available information on progress made by states not parties towards ratification. (See Annexes for draft texts of the Action Plans).

Confidence-Building Measures

CBMs are a transparency measure involving annual declarations of significant facilities and events such as outbreaks of particular diseases. The number of CBM returns is widely recognised to be low - although a record number of CBM returns was made in 2006, which included, for the first time, all of the EU Member States[23] - and a number of states parties raised CBM issues during the Review Conference. A number of proposals included suggestions to strengthen or enhance CBMs - but there were difficulties in reaching consensus on what this really means. For example, if CBM reports are simplified in such a way that it takes less effort to fill them in - especially by reducing the level of detail in the information - will the information be as valuable? Further, while the issue of CBMs was proposed as both a substantive issue to be discussed one year in an intersessional work programme and as a recurring issue to be discussed generally in a work programme, the final list of topics does not mention CBMs specifically. The status of CBM returns has been somewhat ambiguous and this would seem to be the first mention of it in a Review Conference final declaration. Returns have been studied by independent researchers in the past, for example, the SIPRI study published in 1990.[24]

Concerns about how widely CBM returns are published were raised, especially now that some states parties publish their returns on the web. One proposal put forward that the BWC states parties and the World Health Organization should receive the CBM returns. However, Russia appeared to be particularly concerned about confidentiality,[25] and proposed a joint text with the UK and US [26] that "the information supplied by a State Party must not be further circulated or made available without the express permission of that State Party". This became the final text on CBMs included under Article V.

During the Review Conference it had been proposed that in addition to the reminder contact to be made before the deadline, the ISU should contact states parties one month after the CBM submission deadline had passed if no data had been forwarded by them. This proposal was not adopted, as one state (Algeria) argued that this post-deadline reminder was not necessary as CBM submission was not legally binding. As the CBM system was initially adopted by consensus, this distinction mystified a number of other states.

The Final Document notes that the issue of CBMs "requires further and comprehensive attention at the Seventh Review Conference", to be held in 2011.[27]

Other Activities

In addition to the formal conduct of the Conference, civil society was very active, providing ideas and debates on a broad spectrum of the issues raised within the Review Conference. As listed below in Annex 2, a dozen such seminars and events were held during the Conference, mostly in the lunch breaks.

Closure of the Conference

As the Fifth Review Conference had encountered such difficulties, any achievement from the Sixth Review Conference was bound to be seen in a positive light. That the Conference concluded with the adoption of a document which includes a final declaration with an article-by-article review of the BWC, the adoption of a new intersessional process, an Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and a programme to promote universality was deemed a real success, credited in part to a more constructive US delegation and in part to the effective preparations and management of the Conference by Ambassador Khan and his team. However, many were disappointed that the action plans on national implementation and implementation of Article X that had been the subject of many discussions were not retained in the end.

The President of the Review Conference, Masood Khan, closed the Conference in an upbeat mood, noting that after a gap of ten years "we have thoroughly and comprehensively reviewed all articles of the Convention and its implementation". He noted that, on CBMs, the Conference had "streamlined and updated" procedures for submission and taken practical steps to increase the level of participation. He described the ISU as making a "significant contribution" in the coming years.

Reflections

The question that must always be asked when looking back on an event such as a Review Conference is "could more have been achieved?" The real world answer to this question is that there were sufficiently diverging views expressed among the states parties that it is not clear what else could have been achieved that would have been agreed by consensus.

Had the regional groups, especially the NAM, been able to come up with specific proposals earlier in the Conference there may have been more chance to try to find a consensus formula. Because the new BWC groupings from Latin America and the JACKSNNZ, as well as the European Union, had presented their ideas before the start of the Review Conference, this had allowed states parties to consider such ideas before travel to Geneva. Even so, none of the ideas, or the working papers that contained them, had been agreed or adopted by the traditional regional groups that still dominate the formal management of such multilateral meetings. The divergence of views within the NAM, together with the sheer number of its member states, meant that it was hard for the group to come to conclusions on its own proposals until arrival in Geneva. This difficulty was made apparent through the delays in coming to group-wide agreement on which NAM states should perform certain functions within the Review Conference.[28] Since the substantial collective NAM proposals on policy issues were not made until the second week of the Conference, getting the agreement of other states parties became more difficult at this relatively late stage.

Notwithstanding such difficulties, what was achieved was significant. The adoption of a document which includes a final declaration with an article-by-article review reflects progress that is more than simply words on paper. It demonstrates a comprehensive consideration of issues embodied in the Convention. While verification might have been off the formal agenda of the Conference, issues of how to control sensitive materials and technologies without losing their peaceful benefits were certainly considered.

The adoption of a new intersessional process, an Implementation Support Unit and a programme to promote universality were all significant. The loss of the other action plans that had been the subject of many discussions may not turn out to be too problematic. As action plans are mechanisms to bring political and practical focus on a programme of work, they are entirely dependent for their success on the emphasis placed on them by states parties. It is likely that the EU, for example, will still carry out support activities for developing national implementation irrespective of whether there is an action plan on the subject or not.

Recent years have been difficult for BWC diplomacy. The ending of the negotiations for a protocol left a bitter taste for many states parties and no clear consensus on a way forward. What collective efforts that could be agreed upon were widely regarded as simply the lowest common denominator. Many expressed the fear that, if the Sixth Review Conference were to fail to reach a consensus, the validity of the Convention itself might be at stake.

The success of the Sixth Review Conference was not simply a lack of failure. The discussions both inside and outside the conference room have brought states parties to more common understandings than even optimists had predicted. While there remain areas in which many states parties and analysts would like to see further progress, the Conference signalled that the BWC, including its implementation, is on an upward trajectory. It remains to be seen if BWC diplomacy can truly rise from the doldrums.

Notes

[1] Nicholas A Sims, 'Towards the BWC Review Conference: Diplomacy Still in the Doldrums', Disarmament Diplomacy 82 (Spring 2006); Nicholas A. Sims, 'Biological Disarmament Diplomacy in The Doldrums: Reflections After The BWC Fifth Review Conference', Disarmament Diplomacy 70 (April-May 2003)

[2] Only the First Review Conference was mandated by the treaty itself. Subsequent Review Conferences have been mandated by other means, primarily through the Final Document of the previous Review Conference.

[3] See Masood Khan's President's Reflections on the 2006 BWC Conference in this Disarmament Diplomacy issue, pp 13-15 above.

[4] The topics covered, as agreed in 2002, were:
1. the adoption of necessary national measures to implement the prohibitions set forth in the Convention, including the enactment of penal legislation; [dealt with in 2003]
2. national mechanisms to establish and maintain the security and oversight of pathogenic microorganisms and toxins; [2003]
3. enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease; [2004]
4. strengthening and broadening national and international institutional efforts and existing mechanisms for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases affecting humans, animals and plants; [2004] and
5. the content, promulgation, and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists. [2005]

[5] Traditionally, a substantial amount of BWC Review Conference is done through three regional groupings: the 'Western European and Other States Group' (commonly referred to as the Western Group); the 'Group of Eastern European States' (commonly referred to as the Eastern Group); and the 'Group of Non Aligned Movement and Other States' (commonly referred to as the NAM group, but whose membership is not quite identical to the Non-Aligned Movement). A quirk of the modern era is that EU expansion has meant that a number of eastern group members are also members, or accession candidates, of the EU. This includes the co-ordinator of the eastern group, Hungary, which acceded to the EU in 2004. This makes the EU a major player in two of the three groupings that are used for organising BWC meeting activities.

[6] It is important to note that 'agreed text' does not always mean text that is universally wholeheartedly supported. Often the term essentially means text that has not been opposed by any state party - states parties will often agree to text on a particular issue if it is not ideal but not too bad in order to able to concentrate time on a subject that they consider to be more important.

[7] The third week of the Review Conference was held at the same time as the Conference of the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention was being held in The Hague. Some delegates had responsibility for both subjects and wished to attend both events if possible.

[8] This is the same pair of states parties that have previously held up agreement on final texts at the end of meetings, notably in 2004.

[9] The work was divided along the following lines: Articles I to IV [co-ordinated by Ambassador Costea], Articles V to VII [Mr Knut Langeland (Norway )], Articles VIII to IX [Mr Shahrul Yaakob (Malaysia)], and Article X [Dr Ben Steyn (South Africa)].

[10] Statements, in the following order, were made by Finland (on behalf of the EU), Cuba (on behalf of the Non-Aligned and other states), Argentina (on behalf of 12 Latin American states), Canada (for the JACKSNNZ), USA, Germany, Indonesia, Switzerland, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, UK, Russia, Republic of Korea, Algeria, Canada (national statement), Iran, South Africa, China, Argentina (national statement), Pakistan, Norway, Holy See, India, Brazil, Libya, Peru, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Chile. Copies of statements made by states parties that were provided in hard copy are reproduced via http://www.unog.ch/bwc or via http://www.bwpp.org/6RevCon/6thRevConResources.html

[11] Statements were made in the following order: Nigeria, New Zealand, France, Venezuela, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Mexico.

[12] Statements were made in the following order: International Committee of the Red Cross, Interpol, OIE [World Organization for Animal Health], Food and Agriculture Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization. Copies of statements made by the international bodies are available via http://www.unog.ch/bwc or via http://www.bwpp.org/6RevCon/6thRevConResources.html

[13] NGO statements were made in the following order: University of Bradford, International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, Verification Research Training and Information Centre, Friends World Committee for Consultation, London School of Economics, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Pax Christi International, Arms Control Association, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Landau Network-Centro Volta, TriValley Cares, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Research Group for Biological Arms Control (University of Hamburg), BioWeapons Prevention Project, Center for Biosecurity (University of Pittsburgh), and the Institute for Security Studies. Copies of statements made by the NGOs are available via http://www.bwpp.org/6RevCon/6thRevConResources.html

[14] The Final Document carries the document reference number BWC/CONF.VI/6 and can be found in all official languages via the UN documents server at http://documents.un.org. The Final Declaration forms Part II of the Final Document.

[15] The BWC NAM group had already experienced delays in bringing forward nominations for various formal positions within the Review Conference, such as for Vice-Presidents of the Conference.

[16] Some states parties had wanted to cover these four articles at the same time while others wanted to deal with them individually, considering that some individual articles, such as Article I [basic obligations] and Article IV [national implementation] merited discussion on their own.

[17] The relationship between the BWC and the Geneva Protocol is complicated and was the subject of much disagreement during negotiations for the Convention. Article VII of the Convention says "Nothing in this Convention shall be interpreted as in any way limiting or detracting from the obligations assumed by any State under the [Geneva Protocol]". The Article VIII section of the 2006 Final Declaration reads: "The Conference appeals to all States Parties to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to fulfill their obligations assumed under that Protocol and urges all States not yet Parties to the Protocol to ratify or accede to it without delay" (paragraph 39).

[18] A background document on the history of discussions relating to use in the negotiation of the BWC has been posted on the BWPP website and can be accessed via http://www.bwpp.org/6RevCon/BWPPcontributions.html.

[19] Paragraph 4 of Part III ("Decisions and Recommendations"), BWC Review Conference Final Document, BWC/CONF.VI/6

[20] Paragraph 7 of Part III ("Decisions and Recommendations"), BWC Review Conference Final Document, BWC/CONF.VI/6

[21] Designated in a shake-up by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Office for Disarmament Affairs.

[22] Paragraph 5 of Part III ("Decisions and Recommendations"), BWC Review Conference Final Document, BWC/CONF.VI/6

[23] The European Union had decided to aim to submit CBM returns from all of its member states before the Review Conference and only just made it with the last submitting the Friday before. It is likely that the EU will use CBM submission as a yardstick for assessing active membership of the BWC for the purposes of its WMD Strategy adopted in December 2003.

[24] "Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention by Confidence-Building Measures", SIPRI Chemical & Biological Studies, no 10, (Oxford/Stockholm: OUP/SIPRI, 1990), 206 pp.

[25] It would appear that Russia is particularly concerned about publication of its Form F on past activities.

[26] The depositary powers of the BWC. The US and UK have actually published parts of their CBMs on the internet. the UK publishes its return other than two forms - Form C on encouragement of the publication of results of biological research and Form F on past programmes. For both of these forms an annual declaration is made saying there is no further information to be provided since the last time a declaration was made under these forms. As declarations for both of these forms were last made before the UK took a decision to publish CBM returns these two forms remain essentially unpublished.

[27] Paragraph 9 of Part III ("Decisions and Recommendations"), BWC Review Conference Final Document, BWC/CONF.VI/6

[28] For example, the nomination of Vice-Presidents of the Review Conference is done through the group arrangements. The western group and the eastern group presented their nominations on the first day. The NAM and others group was unable to complete its nominations until a few days later.

Annex 1 - Proposals for some Action Plans

This annex contains some of the proposed language for Action Plans on 'National Implementation', on 'Article X', and on 'Comprehensive Implementation'. While none of these was adopted by the Review Conference, they were at the centre of debate and discussion.

Proposed Action Plan on National Implementation

Taken from the first draft final declaration circulated by the President of the Review Conference on 1 December.

Recognising the importance of full and effective implementation of the Convention, the Sixth Review Conference:

1) Calls on all States Parties to:

(i) enact and, where necessary, update and strengthen, in accordance with their national constitutional processes, appropriate legislative, penal, administrative, security and policy measures to ensure full implementation of the Convention

(ii) fully and effectively implement the above national measures and ensure their continued effectiveness in meeting the obligations under the Convention

(iii) designate a national focal point or appropriate national authority to coordinate national implementation of the Convention

(iv) provide, where in a position to do so, assistance if requested to those states seeking help with national implementation of the Convention.

2) Encourages all States Parties to

(i) within the framework of CBMs or other means, provide to the ISU established within the UN DDA information on measures taken to implement the Convention

(ii) inform the ISU of any assistance that it may require to ensure full and effective implementation of the Convention

(iii) inform the ISU of any assistance that it is able to provide to states seeking help to implement the Convention

(iv) keep the ISU informed of bilateral, regional or multilateral activities to implement the Convention, as appropriate, including assistance in this regard.

3) Requests the ISU established with the UN DDA to

(i) compile and disseminate information provided by States Parties, within the framework of CBMs or other means, on measures they have taken to implement the Convention

(ii) inform States Parties on assistance requested, offered and provided pursuant to national implementation of the Convention

(iii) advise requesting states on developing and strengthening, as appropriate, national legislation implementing BWC obligations

OR

serve as an information exchange point for offers and requests for cooperation and assistance

(iv) compile and post information on planned workshops, seminars and other events related to national implementation on its website

(v) report annually to States Parties on activities undertaken under this action plan.

Proposed Action Plan on Article X

This initial version of the proposal appeared in an informal paper circulated by the NAM states on 29 November.

The Sixth Review Conference:

a. Calls on States Parties

1. To actively seek, nationally, bilaterally, multilaterally or through regional mechanisms, the full implementation of the decisions adopted in previous review conferences regarding Article X;

2. To submit to the Implementation Support Unit established within the UN-DDA a national report on implementation of Article X, including offers and requests for assistance in different areas under the scope of Article X. These reports may be published on the BWC Web site, with the approval of the State Party concerned.

3. To utilize the point of contact designated by States Parties to the Implementation Support Unit established within the UN-DDA to facilitate coordination among States Parties;

4. To undertake to review their national regulations governing international exchanges and transfers in order to ensure their consistency with the objectives and the provisions of Article X;

5. To adopt positive measures to promote technology transfer and international cooperation, in particular to the developing countries, for the benefit of all mankind;

6. To provide upon request, where in a position to do so, assistance to other States Parties in enacting and enhancing national legislation to implement the Convention;

7. To facilitate cooperation, where in position to do so, in particular capacity building, as well as technology transfer in the area of custom control to facilitate the implementation of relevant provisions of the Convention;

8. To ensure scientific cooperation and technology transfer, as well as exchange of information, concerning research programmes in biosciences and greater cooperation in public health, detection, diagnosis, and containment of infectious diseases, and agriculture;

9. To provide, where in position to do so, financial and technical support, directly as well as through international organizations and relevant international institutions, with the view to building capacities in States Parties in need of assistance in the fields of surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment of infectious diseases and related research;

10. To promote, where in position to do so, development and production of vaccine and drugs to prevent and treat infectious diseases through international cooperation and, as appropriate, public-private partnerships.

11. To promote and facilitate regional workshops on scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges for peaceful purposes in pursuance of Article X;

12. To promote, where appropriate, the development of efficient coordination mechanism between the United Nations and its relevant specialized agencies and relevant international and regional organizations to facilitate specific measures to promote scientific cooperation and technology transfer;

13. To support the adoption of measures to create networks between scientific communities and academic institutions regarding the peaceful use of biotechnology, genetic engineering, microbiology and other areas related to the Biological Weapons Convention;

14. To assist the Implementation Support Unit established within the UN-DDA in the development of a database containing information on opportunities for international cooperation and technology transfers;

b. Request the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

15. To propose the inclusion in the agenda of the relevant United Nations specialised agencies a discussion and examination of the means of improving institutional mechanisms in order to facilitate the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information regarding the use of biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes;

c. Request the Implementation Support Unit established within the UN-DDA.

16. To receive from and distribute among States Parties, on annual basis, information on the implementation of Article X of the Convention and on decisions adopted by the Sixth Review Conference;

17. To disseminate information on needs conveyed by States Parties to enhance their capabilities to eradicate infectious diseases and to promote biological and biotechnological R&D for peaceful purposes;

18. To develop, with the assistance of States Parties, and maintain a database containing information on opportunities for international cooperation and technology transfers;

19. To maintain regular contact with the national points of contact of States Parties;

20. To provide to States Parties at their annual meetings a progress report on activities undertaken by it under this Plan of Action.

The Sixth Review Conference decides that a full review of the progress made in the implementation of the provisions set out in this Action Plan be carried out at the Seventh Review Conference.

Proposed Action Plan for Comprehensive Implementation of the Convention

This initial version of the proposal appeared in the third draft final declaration circulated by the President of the Review Conference on 6 December.

1. Recognising the importance of full and comprehensive implementation of the Convention for international security and for the development of the peaceful uses of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins, the Sixth Review Conference calls on all States Parties to:

i. designate a national focal point or appropriate national authority to coordinate full and comprehensive implementation of all the obligations of the Convention;

ii. enact and, where necessary, update and strengthen, in accordance with their national constitutional processes, appropriate legislative, penal, administrative, security and policy measures to ensure full and comprehensive implementation of the Convention;

iii. fully and effectively implement the above national measures and ensure their continued effectiveness in meeting the obligations under the Convention;

iv. undertake to review their national regulations governing international exchanges and transfers in order to ensure their consistency with the objectives and the provisions of the Convention;

v. provide upon request, where in a position to do so, assistance to other States Parties seeking help with national implementation of the Convention, including for enacting and enhancing national legislation;

vi. facilitate cooperation, where in position to do so, in particular capacity building, as well as technology transfer in the areas of customs control to facilitate the implementation of relevant provisions of the Convention;

vii. within the framework of CBMs or other means, provide to the implementation support unit established within the UN DDA information on measures taken to implement the Convention;

viii. submit to the ISU a national report on implementation of this action plan and any other measures to promote international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins. The report may include offers and requests for assistance in different areas related to the Convention. These reports may be published on the BWC Web site, with the approval of the State Party concerned;

ix. inform the ISU of any assistance that they may require, or are able to provide to States Parties, to ensure full and effective implementation of the Convention;

x. keep the ISU informed of bilateral, regional or multilateral activities to implement the Convention, as appropriate, including assistance in this regard;

xi. promote and facilitate regional workshops on scientific and technological cooperation and exchanges for peaceful purposes;

xii. assist the ISU in the development of a database containing offers of and requests for assistance, information on legislative, penal, administrative, security and policy measures, and information on opportunities for international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins;

xiii. provide, where in a position to do so, financial and technical support, directly as well as through international organizations and relevant international institutions, with the view to building capacities in States Parties in need of assistance in the fields of surveillance, detection, diagnosis and containment of infectious diseases and related research;

xiv. promote, where in a position to do so, development and production of vaccine and drugs to prevent and treat infectious diseases through international cooperation and, as appropriate, public-private partnerships;

xv. promote, where appropriate, the development of efficient coordination mechanism between the United Nations and its relevant specialised agencies and relevant international and regional organizations to facilitate international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins;

2. The Conference requests the implementation support unit established with the UN DDA to:

i. compile and disseminate information provided by States Parties, within the framework of CBMs or other means, on measures they have taken to implement the Convention;

ii. receive from and distribute among States Parties, on an annual basis, information on measures to implement this action plan and any other measures to promote international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins;

iii. inform States Parties on assistance requested, offered and provided pursuant to comprehensive implementation of the Convention;

iv. disseminate information on needs conveyed by States Parties to enhance their capabilities to eradicate infectious diseases and to promote biological and biotechnological research and development for peaceful purposes;

v. compile and post on its website information on planned workshops, seminars and other events related to comprehensive implementation of the Convention;

vi. develop, with the assistance of States Parties, and maintain a database containing offers of and requests for assistance, information on legislative, penal, administrative, security and policy measures, and information on opportunities for international cooperation in the field of peaceful use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins;

vii. provide to States Parties at their annual meetings a progress report on the activities it has undertaken under this action plan.

The Conference decides that a full review of the progress made in the implementation of the provisions set out in this action plan be carried out at the Seventh Review Conference.

Annex 2 - Other Activities at the Sixth Review Conference

Monday 20 November - the School of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, UKThe report can be found at http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/sbtwc/key6rev/contents.htm.

Tuesday 21 November - the Royal Society, the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) to discuss the outcomes from an 'International Workshop on Science and Technology Developments Relevant to the BTWC' held in London in September. See http://www.royalsociety.ac.uk/document.asp?tip=0&id=5563

Wednesday 22 November - the Harvard Sussex Program (HSP), VERTIC and BASIC, to promote their 'Briefing Book'. The seminar also promoted a new VERTIC report, 'A New Strategy: Strengthening the Biological Weapons Regime through Modular Mechanisms' which can be found at http://www.vertic.org/publications/VM6.pdf.

Thursday 23 November - the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for a presentation on 'Biodefense Research, High Containment Laboratories, and Scientific Response: Opportunities and Challenges for the BWC'. Details of the Center can be found at http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/.

Friday 24 November - Chemical and Biological Security Project at the Center for Science and International Security (CSIS), Washington, DC, to launch a new publication 'The Biological Weapons Threat and Nonproliferation Options: a survey of senior U.S. decision makers and policy shapers'. Further information about the project can be found at http://www.csis.org/isp/cbsp/.

Monday 27 November - the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) on the topic of 'Bio Research in the United States - Emerging Level IV Labs'.

Tuesday 28 November - the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Washington, DC, and the Research Group for Biological Arms Control, University of Hamburg on the topic of 'Strengthening the BWC by Enhancing Transparency: the CBMs and Beyond'. http://www.biological-arms-control.org and http://www.projects.ex.ac.uk/codesofconduct/BiosecuritySeminar/

Wednesday 29 November - the European Biosafety Association on the topic of 'Enhancing Biosafety and Biosecurity: International Standards for Microbiological Containment Laboratories'. Further information about the association can be found at http://www.ebsaweb.eu/.

Thursday 30 November - the Biological Threat Reduction project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC, on the topic of 'Governance for Biological Threat Reduction: a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, international approach'. Further information about the project can be found at http://www.csis.org/hs/btr/.

Monday 4 December - the DePaul University School of Law on the topic of 'Bio-Science Development and Preventing Bio-Crimes: Uniting Future Strategies'. Copies of the presentation can be obtained from the presenter via email to bkellman at depaul.edu.

Tuesday 5 December - Interpol and VERTIC: Interpol activities in this field can be found at http://www.interpol.int/Public/BioTerrorism/links and on VERTIC at http://www.vertic.org.

Wednesday 6 December - Green Cross International re 'Developing a Comprehensive Biosecurity Regime'. For further information on the activities of Green Cross see http://www.gci.ch.

Richard Guthrie reported on the BWC Sixth Review Conference (2007) for the BioWeapons Prevention Project (BWPP). The author thanks Henrietta Wilson for her excellent editing of this article, which was derived in part from the daily BWPP reports, which can be found at http://www.bwpp.org/6RevCon/RevConProgressReports.html, as well as a forthcoming occasional paper on the Conference, which will be made available on the BWPP website.

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.