Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) - Meeting of Experts on Review of Developments in the Field of Science and Technology (MX2) - Key EU messages

Geneva, 31/07/2019 - 14:12, UNIQUE ID: 190731_4
Statements on behalf of the EU

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) Meeting of Experts on Review of Developments in the Field of Science and Technology (MX2) Geneva, 31 July and 2 August 2019 Key EU messages

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

I would like to thank you for agreeing to chair this important Meeting of Experts on Science and Technology and assure you of the EU's and its Member States' full support.

Our discussions last year again demonstrated that the rapid development of life sciences and biotechnology, as well as their convergence with emerging technologies, such as additive manufacturing, Big data and brain machine interface or automated laboratories, bring many benefits, but also proliferation risks stemming from both State and non-State actors. This Convention must be in a position to respond to emerging issues and challenges in a timely and robust fashion, and we encourage all States Parties to consider ways and means that would enable us to do so.

The EU supports a process of more frequent and focused assessments of relevant scientific and technological developments, which may have implications for the BTWC. Such a process could involve the creation of a dedicated forum of experts and scientists, the incorporation of a standing science and technology advisory function in the BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and more regular sharing of information of relevant events and work conducted by international academics and States Parties.

We attach great importance to promoting closer interaction with the S&T communities and involving non-governmental experts, scientists, professional associations and industry in our work. Their research can greatly inform multilateral discussions, contribute to policy-making and strengthen national implementation of the BTWC. In this regard, we appreciate inclusive and forward-thinking approaches and formats, such as the Ministerial Conference entitled “2019. Capturing Technology. Rethinking Arms Control.” that took place in Berlin on 15 March, and thematic workshops such as the one initiated by Romania on 17 June 2019 on “The benefits and misuse of biotechnology in the context of Agenda 2030”.

We encourage further awareness-raising activities among relevant professionals in the private and public sector and training and education programmes for those granted access to biological agents and toxins relevant to the BTWC. In this context, we would like to draw your attention to the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium’s e-learning module on biological weapons and the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament eLearning Course which are available on the BTWC website Resource Repository and can be used to support training activities. A culture of responsibility amongst relevant professionals and awareness about the potential misuse of biological agents and research results could also be advanced through the voluntary development, adoption and promulgation of codes of conduct by the concerned scientists and professional communities.

The EU-funded stakeholder seminars, organised by the ISU, have also helped to raise awareness of the Convention among scientists and biosafety professionals, contributed to capacity-building for national implementation of the BTWC, and facilitated international cooperation for peaceful purposes. Five regional workshops took place in 2017 and 2018, notably in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. They brought together life scientists, academics, and industry representatives to discuss the implications of scientific and technological advances for the BWC, resulted in the development and strengthening of important expert networks in each region and led to the preparation of working papers in some regions on the outcomes of their workshops. We invite all of you to participate in a side event on [placeholder], to be organised by the ISU together with partners from the S&T workshops, to learn about the main findings, based on a forthcoming jointly-authored journal article.

The new EU Council Decision in support of the BTWC, adopted in January 2019, will build on these activities.

- In preparation of the Ninth Review Conference of the BTWC, an international science and technology conference will be held in Geneva for governmental experts, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and members of industry with the aim to provide them an opportunity to express their views and feed into the programme of the Ninth Review Conference.

- Another project under the new EU Council Decision will focus on producing educational and awareness raising tools and materials that should, inter alia, increase awareness of the issues related to biological weapons, responsible conduct of science, and ethical issues among students and their teachers, in order to prevent the potential misuse of biology.

- Finally, a first biosecurity workshop of its kind entitled “Engaging Young Scientists from the Global South in Biosecurity Diplomacy” will be held on 3-5 August 2019 near Geneva. The workshop will bring together up to 20 young and talented scientists from the Global South working on BTWC-related topics. The workshop will take place back-to-back with the MX2 meeting which will allow the chosen participants to benefit from both events.

Further information on these activities is available on the ISU website.

Thank you, Mr. Chair


*North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.