Explanation of Position in the First Committee on Resolution L.49: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction

Ambassador Robert Wood
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
New York City
November 1, 2017

AS DELIVERED

I would like to explain the United States’ position regarding Resolution A/C.1/72/L.49 on the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.”

Mr. Chairman, for over four and a-half decades, the BWC has served as a barrier against the possession and proliferation of biological weapons. Together with the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the BWC has solidified the international norm against the use of disease as weapons.

This is not the resolution we hoped to see. The international processes that support the Biological Weapons Convention are struggling. Last year’s Review Conference was unable, for the first time since 2001, to agree on a new program of work. The BWC is even struggling to simply pay its bills. However, Parties have another chance at the upcoming BWC Meeting of States Parties, which is specifically tasked to “seek to make progress on issues of substance and process for the period before the next Review Conference, with a view to reaching consensus on an intersessional process.” It seemed to my delegation that, if there was ever a time for the General Assembly to send a clear message of support, this was it. And so we sought more ambitious text that would capture what we believe is broad support among BWC States Parties for a new, more substantive and action -oriented work program. In the interest of consensus, we accepted far less. Nevertheless, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Eighth Review Conference President Amb Molnár in drafting this resolution and skillfully working to reconcile conflicting views.

We also support the efforts of BWC MSP Chairman Indian Ambassador Gill to set the stage for a constructive meeting in December. Since the RevCon, the United States has been working constructively across traditional political boundaries to forge agreement on elements that could comprise a constructive, substantive program of work. We are encouraged by the emerging support for a program that includes expert-level working groups on a balanced set of key issues, including science and technology, national implementation, international cooperation and assistance, and preparedness for and response to outbreaks of disease. Support is also growing for the idea that these groups would prepare factual reports with recommendations to be considered at the annual meetings. We hope that all Parties will approach the MSP in a positive spirit, prepared to agree on such a reasonable and doable program.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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