Statement of Pax Christi International to the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, 4 December, in Geneva


[NOTE: The following statement was delivered by Pax Christi International's UN Representative in Geneva, Trevor Griffiths, at the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Additionally, Pax Christi International also signed onto this joint statement from partner NGOs.]

Reinforce the Biological Weapons Convention as cornerstone in the global web of prevention of weapons of mass destruction
Statement of Pax Christi International to the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention , 4-8 December 2017, Geneva

Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to address you during your Meeting of States Parties to the BTWC. We wish to make some concrete proposals of direct relevance to this Meeting. First of all, we would like to express our support for the statement on behalf of a group of NGOs by Filippa Lentzos. This joint statement covers S&T review, reassurance and transparency initiatives, ISP restructuring and ISU resources.

In addition, we would like to place your deliberations this week in a broader perspective of how to improve the "web of prevention" of misuse of science and technologies for weapons of mass destruction. You will be well-aware of the importance of the BTWC as a cornerstone in legal, ethical, technological and societal measures contributing to an effective ban of the misuse of life sciences for hostile purposes.

In statements over the last 15 years, we have consistently stressed the need to balance biosecurity and academic freedom. Such an effective balance calls for monitoring emerging scientific and technological hazards, but also for surveillance of evidence of malicious intent. In addition, continuous investments are needed in training programmes raising awareness among academic and business communities, how to handle biosecurity risks. Scientists and entrepreneurs should also continuously be reminded of their responsibilities for biosecurity of dual use life sciences. Such awareness raising initiatives should complement governmental oversight and law enforcement by the States Parties to the BTWC.

The BTWC should be strengthened, especially by developing effective transparency mechanisms. Several such mechanisms have been proposed and tested by States Parties in recent years.

While acknowledging the need for strengthening international pandemic preparedness, covering both human made and natural outbreaks of diseases, Pax Christi International would like to put the need to put global public health at the core. Especially in the Least Developed Countries this calls for strengthening basic healthcare, and offering access to clean water and sanitation, contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We wish you successful deliberations.

Geneva, 4 December 2017


Geneva, Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Trevor Griffiths, UN