For more than four decades, the Biological Weapons Convention has embodied international will against the use of disease as a weapon. No nation claims that biological weapons are legitimate or admits pursuing them, and we are all safer for it. This norm remains strong, as does the U.S. commitment to work with other nations to combat this threat, despite the less than satisfactory outcome of the Convention’s Eighth Review Conference in Geneva last week.
The Conference was unable to reach agreement on a new, more ambitious work-plan for the next five years, a plan that was supported by the United States and the vast majority of other States Parties to the Convention. The United States sought agreement on a work-plan that would allow for more intensive expert work and for taking decisions more often than once every five years – goals we believe are widely shared.
While the United States does not support the need to negotiate a supplementary treaty, during the review conference, U.S. negotiators were supportive of creating a space in the post-RevCon work-plan for discussion of the full range of proposals to strengthen the Convention, which would have allowed proponents of a protocol to make their case.
Although the United States is disappointed that negotiators did not take this opportunity to strengthen the intersessional process, the lack of consensus on a program of work does not damage the international nonproliferation regime. Collaborative work to strengthen biosecurity, nonproliferation, and transparency will continue. For our part, the United States will continue to further strengthen a regime that is rightly credited with making the world a safer place.