Biological Weapons Convention: More Communication & Collaboration Needed

Credit:The GSTAAD Project

On 6th of December 2010, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, delivered a message to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of the State Parties on the need for structured and regular means of monitoring developments in science and technology to reduce risks to international security and achieving global biological disarmament. “While much is being done to promote assistance and cooperation for the peaceful uses of biological science and technology, more could still be done to improve coordination and communication, ” he said.  The five-day meeting in Geneva is part of a four-year programme mandated by the 2006 Sixth Review Conference of the BWC aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Convention and improving its effectiveness as a practical barrier against the development or use of biological weapons.

The past BWC Experts’ Meeting in August 2010 has encouraged joint efforts by health and security officials to counter manmade or natural disease outbreaks, however more collaboration is needed.  Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general for health security and environment, stated, “There are more opportunities for the two communities to interact today because of a growing recognition by both sides that the only way to monitor the rapidly increasing globalization of “dual use” biological technology — which can be used in regular research efforts or clandestinely put toward a weapons program — is to pool their resources. ”  During a speaker event on global health and security organized by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity, Fukuda said, that the single most important issue at the international level, is trust between the security and health communities. Resources, as well as sacrifices, must be shared equally by both sides, he told the audience.

The Federation of American Scientists’ (FAS) biosecurity program is committed to fostering collaboration between biosecurity stakeholder communities.  For example, the FAS biosecurity program has worked with the FBI to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and scientists through education and partnerships.   Some of the projects include the development of training materials for FBI agents on how to properly interact with scientists and dual use educational materials used by the FBI for their outreach efforts.

To continue to meet this demand for better coordination and communication, FAS will launch a multi-organizational initiative in early 2011, the Virtual Biosecurity Center (VBC) – ‘One stop shop’ for biosecurity related news, events, information, educational resources and collaboration.

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