The 2021 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meetings of Experts was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 August to 8 September 2021. Within the dedicated session of the Meeting of Experts on Science and Technology (MX2), a key agenda item focused on the consideration of establishing a scientific advisory body.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported that the presentation in MX2 of Working Paper 7, containing the 'Findings of the Workshops' paper, was well received among the States Parties. IAP and members of the IAP Biosecurity Working Group have been collaborating on hosting these FAS workshops.
As highlighted in the document, “[t]he Workshop discussions reinforced the assessment that there is broad support among BWC States Parties for a more structured scientific advisory process to help assess possible risks, as well as benefits, of scientific advances and to help States Parties adopt relevant national measures.”
The US representative introduced it on the first day of MX2, and FAS's Jenifer Mackby presented the Findings. A number of delegations, as well as the Chair of MX2, made positive comments about the paper.
A study by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Exploring Science and Technology Review Mechanisms under the Biological Weapons Convention, was also presented and together these two efforts have focused attention on the necessity of establishing a scientific advisory body for the BWC.
What is important now is to consider how to maintain momentum in the process as BWC discussions move on from this week's MXP, to the Meeting of States Parties (MSP) and Preparatory Committee in November and then the all-important BWC Review Conference (RevCon) next year.
In addition, on 1 September, a short video by Tianjin University, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and IAP introduced the Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists (now available in the 6 official UN languages) to MX2participants.