EU statement at the review conference on biological and toxin weapons

Sixth Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) in Geneva on 20 November - 8 December 2006

Closing Statement by Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto, Permanent Representative of Finland to the Conference on Disarmament, on behalf of the European Union on 8 December 2006

Mr. President,

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania align themselves with this statement. 

At the conclusion of our work, let me congratulate you, Mr. President, on the successful accomplishment of a full review of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention by this Conference under your leadership. We would also like to thank the Chairs of the Committees and facilitators for their valuable contributions.

Mr. President,

This Conference has once again reaffirmed the norm that biological weapons are totally prohibited, and it has made an important contribution to the further strengthening of the effectiveness of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We have also reaffirmed that the use, in any way and under any circumstances, of biological agents or toxins, that is not consistent with peaceful purposes, is effectively a violation of Article I. Our common commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation of biological and toxin weapons is the necessary foundation from which we can exploit the potential of biosciences for peaceful purposes.

The European Union welcomes the Final Document of the Conference, which broadly meets the objectives we have set for the Conference. We all now have the responsibility of the prompt, concrete and effective implementation of the decisions contained in the Final Document, on national, regional and international level.

The EU considers comprehensive implementation and universalisation of the Convention to be areas of priority. The Conference has agreed on helpful tools in ensuring full implementation and universalisation of the Convention. Their utilization in concrete terms should start expeditiously and therefore the EU encourages States Parties to designate national focal points and contact points for the different activities as soon as possible. We will continue to provide assistance through our Joint Action to countries that need help with implementing their obligations, and we encourage the countries requiring assistance to make their needs known.

This Conference has once again urged all States Parties to complete full and timely CBM declarations in the future. The EU fully supports this call by the Conference. Although we would have liked to see a more ambitious outcome on this matter, we welcome the decisions adopted by the Conference regarding CBMs, and call on the Implementation Support Unit and States Parties to implement these decisions and to make full use of them. We remain willing to work on further improvement of the CBM process.

 The EU notes with satisfaction that the Implementation Support Unit, established by this Conference, will for its part provide administrative support and facilitate and coordinate different activities for the implementation of the Convention. We encourage the Implementation Suppot Unit to work actively in fulfilling the tasks entrusted to it.

Mr. President,

The adoption of a new intersessional work programme, leading to the Seventh Review Conference not later than 2011, is a significant achievement. Its true value however can only be assessed as it unfolds over the years. It is our common endeavour. The EU attaches particular importance to discussing, on a regular basis, ways and means to enhance national implementation and universalization of the Convention. The decisions of this Conference provide a good basis for this. In addition, the EU welcomes the possibility to continue discussions under the intersessional work programme on scientific and technological developments and their implications from the viewpoint of potential for misuse. We will continue to work actively for strengthening further the Convention and promoting successful outcomes of the meetings in the intersessional period. Bioterrorism will have to remain as a subject for further deliberations.

Mr. President,

The now ending review cycle has helped States Parties focus their efforts and develop a renewed sense of ownership of the Convention, and more importantly, national responsibility among States Parties for actual implementation of obligations and compliance with the Convention. At the same time, the advances in biosciences and biotechnology have been rapid. We should harness their potential to the maximum, while no State Party should lose sight of the obligations under this Convention. States Parties should increasingly engage also private sector actors in efforts that enhance the implementation of the Convention in its entirety, recognizing the important role of the private sector in the transfer of technology and information.

The success of this Conference should also be seen in the wider context of international efforts in disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. It has demonstrated for its part that the international community is able to effectively respond to the challenges of today's world also in this field. The constructive atmosphere and operational results of this Conference can have a positive effect beyond the immediate scope of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We continue to hope also that, in the long term, it will be possible to identify effective mechanisms to strengthen and verify compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Thank you, Mr President.