6 December 2005

Bolstering Biological Security Regime of Tremendous Importance for Global Health, Peace, Says Secretary-General to Geneva Meeting

NEW YORK, 5 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the meeting of State Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, delivered by Enrique Roman-Morey, Director and Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, in Geneva, 5 December:

In this year in which the United Nations commemorates its sixtieth anniversary, the international community also marks the anniversaries of two major treaties addressing the terrible threat posed by biological weapons.

The Geneva Protocol was the first truly international agreement to seek the prohibition of the use of chemical and biological weapons as a method of warfare.  It is therefore appropriate to take this opportunity to call on the countries that still maintain reservations to the Protocol to withdraw them, since other conventions agreed to since then have rendered them obsolete.

This year also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Biological Weapons Convention.  It remains at least as relevant today, given the challenges of our time.  Developments in the life sciences in the years ahead will no doubt bring remarkable benefits, but they may also carry with them, as an almost inevitable corollary, considerable dangers.  There has never been more urgent need for international commitment to the universal application and full compliance with the Convention.

The question of a scientific Code of Conduct is clearly of great importance.  Your discussions on the Code this week offer a further approach for strengthening the Convention.

Looking ahead to next year's review conference, this is a major opportunity to reaffirm the ban on biological and toxin weapons.  It will also provide a chance to address the threat posed by the possible use of such weapons by terrorists.  Efforts since the last review conference three years ago have focused greater international attention on the main issues.  It is increasingly understood that bolstering the biological security regime has become a matter of tremendous importance for global health and international peace and security.  I urge you to recognize how much is at stake, and to make concerted efforts to ensure that next year's review conference succeeds in its task.

For my part, I remain ready to take all necessary action to assist international efforts in the event of the deliberate use of biological weapons.  Please accept my best wishes for a productive session.

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