Making Tentative Progress Against Biological Terrorism

Making Tentative Progress Against Biological Terrorism

The states parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention held two important meetings in 2007. First, national biological warfare experts met for several days in mid-August to exchange ideas about how best to counter this threat. Second, the states parties held their annual week-long gathering in December. Both of these sessions were remarkably non-confrontational as compared with previous years, suggesting that new political dynamics are now shaping the international politics of biological warfare and terrorism.

The December 2006 Sixth Review Conference of the BTWC directed the member governments to focus on two main issues this year: (1) strengthening national implementation of the convention to ensure that members had incorporated their BTWC obligations into their domestic laws and (2) enhancing regional and sub-regional cooperation among the states parties to supplement their traditional unilateral and multilateral initiatives. The August 2007 expert session and the December 2008 annual meeting represented the first major element of the four-year program adopted at the Sixth Review Conference to reinforce the convention and its implementation

At some past BWC meetings, irreconcilable differences among the states parties had prevented progress. Until recently, the two most important blocs -- the Western Group, comprising the European Union and the United States, on the one hand, and developing countries affiliated with the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) on the other -- had deadlocked over several issues.

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