Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

Date: 11/07/2016 Description: Acting Under Secretary Tom Countryman delivers the U.S. statement at the 8th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in Geneva. © U.S. Mission to Geneva

The BWC is critical to international efforts to address the threat posed by biological weapons – whether in the hands of governments or non-state actors. To remain effective, it must deal with all biological threats we face in the 21st century.

BWC Review Conferences

The BWC Review Conference is mandated by Article XII of the treaty, and plays a critical role in reviewing the treaty and charting next steps. The purpose of the RevCons is to review the operation of the BWC, relevant scientific and technological developments, as well as progress towards the negotiation of a convention to prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Annual intersessional meetings of States Parties and Meetings of Experts are held between RevCons to air a variable set of diplomatic and technical topics before dealing with them more formally at the RevCons.

The United Nations Office at Geneva is the representative office of the Secretary-General at Geneva and is a focal point for multilateral diplomacy. Past BWC RevCon and PrepCom documents can all be accessed from this website.

The first BWC Review Conference took place in Geneva in March 1980. The second took place in 1986. The most recent RevCon took place at the UN office in Geneva from December 5-22, 2011, when 165 States parties gathered for the seventh RevCon and set the course of work for the next five years. The final report of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention is deposited at the official BWC website.

Eighth BWC Review Conference

The eighth BWC Review Conference took place from November 7-25, 2016, at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland. Acting Under Secretary Tom Countryman delivered the U.S. statement.

At the close of the Conference, Ambassador Robert Wood issued a statement regarding the group’s inability to reach agreement on a substantive program of post-Review Conference work.

The State Department’s closing BWC Review Conference statement can be found here.

On October 17, 2016, at a plenary session of the United Nations First Committee meeting in New York, BWC President-Designate Ambassador Gyorgy Molnar delivered a joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of Hungary, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The statement reaffirms the fundamental importance of the BWC as a key pillar of international security and the need to enhance its effectiveness.