Magazine article Arms Control Today

BWC Ad Hoc Group Continues Work without Substantial Progress

Magazine article Arms Control Today

BWC Ad Hoc Group Continues Work without Substantial Progress

Article excerpt

THE AD HOC Group of states-parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) made no substantial progress during its last session on resolving major differences on key issues or removing brackets from the rolling text, which is a draft of the protocol to the BWC. However, the group, which met from March 13 to 31 and commemorated the BWC's 25th anniversary March 26 with addresses by high-level officials, saw some progress in the area of export controls and issued a new version of the rolling text.

The Ad Hoc Group has been meeting since 1995 to negotiate a legally binding protocol to make the BWC more effective. The BWC outlaws biological weapons and their means of delivery, but contains no verification mechanisms.

Remarking on the session's outcome in an interview, Ambassador Tibor T6th, chairman of the Ad Hoc Group, said, "The progress in this session was slower than in the previous ones, which might be an indication that we have to incrementally adjust our negotiating techniques to the changing situation." He added, "By now, we have very well isolated the remaining islands of controversy in a sea of clean text and will have to find solutions to them." (See p. 10.)

Despite the slow progress, the session saw movement by the United States on the issue of transferring agents and dual-use equipment-a major point of dispute in which some members of the Non-Aligned Movement have called for establishing an export control framework that might not leave room for existing export control groups, such as the Australia Group, an informal body that coordinates biological and chemical weapons-related exports. …

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