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‘Give Teeth’ to Convention’s Accountability Provisions, Bring Treaty into Modern Age, Secretary-General Tells Biological Weapons Review Conference

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the participants of the ninth Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, in Geneva today:

Fifty years ago, the global community stood as one and declared that the deliberate use of disease as a weapon was an affront to humanity.  The Biological Weapons Convention affirms the conscience of humankind.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees.  Now imagine a different kind of disease — one that is both deliberately designed and can race through the global population even faster.

Biological weapons are not the product of science fiction.  They are a clear and present danger.  That’s why strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention is more important than ever.

As you gather for the Convention’s Ninth Review Conference, I urge you to consider three specific actions.  First — give teeth to the Convention’s accountability provisions to ensure that scientific advances are not exploited for hostile purposes.  Let’s make sure that science and technology are used for the benefit of humanity — not its destruction — and that peace remains at the heart of all scientific development and co-operation.

Second — update our thinking on verification and compliance to fit today’s threats.  The world has changed dramatically over the last five decades.  The Convention should change with it.

And third — give the Convention the increased financial and human resources it needs to carry out this important work.  The world generously supports global regimes against chemical weapons and nuclear proliferation.  We should do the same for biological weapons with a significant increase in the Convention’s budget.

Now is the time to close off every avenue to the development and use of these weapons.  Let’s bring this twentieth century Convention into the modern age.  Let’s work to end the threat of biological weapons, once and for all.

For information media. Not an official record.