BWC TOKYO SEMINAR

February 20, 2006

1. BRIEF OVERVIEW

Tokyo, Japan 15 February. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in conjunction with the Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (CPDNP) concluded the BWC (Biological Weapons Convention) Tokyo Seminar. The Seminar was conducted over an intensive day and a half, from February 14 to 15, at the International Conference Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. As part of Japan's contribution towards the successful outcome of the BWC 6th Review Conference, the purpose of the Seminar was to provide a timely opportunity for senior officials and distinguished experts to discuss the critical issues to be addressed at the forthcoming Conference.

The Tokyo Seminar brought together around 70 participants from 26 governments and academia, including the President of the BWC 6th Review Conference, Ambassador Masood KHAN. From Japan, Ambassador Yoshiki MINE, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, and Ambassador Takaya SUTO, Director of the CPDNP, presided over the Seminar as moderators. Ambassador Takeshi NAKANE, Director-General of the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department of MOFA also participated. (Apart from the opening session, the Seminar was not open to the public.)

The Seminar agenda included: Session A, "Current state of the BWC"; Session B, "Article by Article Review Session", and Session C, "Prospects toward 2006 and beyond".

* The BWC is a unique international legal norm against biological and toxin weapons. However, due to a lack of compliance verification measures, strengthening the BWC is considered a major issue. Review Conferences are held once every five years to review the operation of the Convention, and to discuss and decide on any further actions to be taken by the States Parties. The 6th Review Conference will be held in November 2006.

2. RESULTS OF DISCUSSIONS

In the opening address Mr. KANEDA, the Senior Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, indicated that for Japan the real threat of bio-terrorism was a current major security concern. Furthermore, he expressed the importance of efforts to strengthen the BWC as an international legal norm against biological weapons and appealed for positive engagement in order to reach agreement on a Final Declaration at the 6th Review Conference.

During the Seminar, active discussions took place amongst senior governmental officials of the major BWC States Parties, including President KHAN, as well as prominent experts from Japan and overseas. The agenda for the Seminar addressed the work to be carried out at the Review Conference (drafting a Final Declaration that reflects the common understandings of the States Parties on the operation of each article of the Convention, as well as future measures). Consequently, the lively discussions focused on the review of major articles (article by article review), and proposals for concrete measures to strengthen the BWC. In order to contribute to this important endeavor, Japan presented its ideas about future measures for strengthening the BWC Regime.

The principal issues are as follows;

  • Appraisal of past efforts to strengthen the BWC;
  • Further measures to strengthen the BWC;
    • Consider developments in biotechnology:
    • Importance of national measures, such as the secure control of biological agents and national legislation:
    • Responses to the alleged use of biological weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease:
    • Improvement of Confidence Building Measures:
    • Promotion of international cooperation:
    • Coordination of existing mechanisms.
  • Concrete measures to be carried out prior to the 7th Review Conference (2011).

In the discussions, the participants exchanged their views on the preparatory work required by each country and laid out a clear road map to the Review Conference. In this respect, the Tokyo Seminar marked an auspicious beginning to the preparatory work for the forthcoming Review Conference in November.

As a result, the discussions at the BWC Tokyo Seminar are expected to greatly assist the efforts of President KHAN to effectively forge a Final Declaration for the 6th Review Conference, and thus lead to the substantial strengthening of the BWC.

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