4 December 201916:17

Statement by the Representative of the Russian Delegation at the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (the BWC) on Paragraph 5 of the Agenda «General Debate», Geneva, December 3, 2019


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Unofficial translation

Distinguished Mr. Chairperson,

We would like to congratulate you on the election to this responsible post and wish you every success during your tenure. In our turn, we assure you of our support.

Distinguished Colleagues,

The current review cycle is gradually nearing the completion. Some people might think, of course, that it is still two years before the 2021 Review Conference (RevCon-2021), which is true in some sense, and that there is still enough time to prepare for it thoroughly and to successfully hold it. Yet, as experience shows, a habit to postpone everything has its own drawbacks. In 2016, despite all the efforts, the participants of the RevCon failed to reach a compromise and adopt a substantive outcome document containing an intersessional programme of work,

With that in mind, the Russian delegation advocates for the soonest preparation for the RevCon-2021. It is in our power to establish some elements, some kind of «components» which would serve as the basis for further recommendations and decisions of the Review Conference already at the MSP. Moreover, joint developments would be a guideline for the meetings of the BWC expert groups allowing them to focus on those developments which potentially can be adopted by consensus.

The Russian delegation has prepared a food for thought paper which will be circulated at the nearest time and which might be included in the MSP outcome document. We would prefer stronger and clearer wordings, of course, in particular concerning the resumption of the work on the Protocol to the Convention which provides for inter alia an effective verification mechanism of the treaty obligations.

This task is becoming particularly relevant in the light of the continuing efforts to present something like peer reviews or other initiatives as an alternative, which raise at least serious questions. We are by no means against transparency and confidence building measures. Instead, we advocate their improvement in the framework of the BWC and as you all know we have submitted proposals to present reports by the States Parties on their foreign medico-biological activities, including the military component. The relevant working paper of the Russian Federation (BWC/CONF.VIII/WP.9 of October 14, 2016) can be found on the BWC web-portal. We are looking forward to the support.

In the same context, we intend to draw the attention of the delegations to the initiative of establishing a «standing interim capacity» under the UN Secretariat in order to institutionalize the UN Secretary-General's mechanism for investigation of alleged use of chemical and biological weapons. We would like to remind you that the establishment of the unit itself is not provided for in any UNSC or GA resolutions under which, the Secretary-General's mechanism was established and in fact it does not have any legal basis. Moreover, this initiative was not discussed and agreed upon with the BWC States Parties. It appears that not everyone is aware of it.

We also have serious claims to the way the work on the implementation of these plans is being done. We mean the lack of the due transparency some of our colleagues like to speculate about. Yet, for some reason they do not question the grounds on which the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) is carrying out preparatory work to implement this initiative behind the backs of the UN Member States. We hope to receive not only the explanation but also detailed information on this issue from our colleagues from the UNODA Geneva office. They should be indeed aware of it.

The main thing is that all such activities directly affecting the BWC scope are conducted without the participation of the BWC States Parties.

Again, as I said, Russia supports the soonest launch of the negotiations on the Protocol to the Convention inter alia providing for the effective verification mechanism. At the same time, being realistic, we understand that due to the unyielding position of one of the delegations the work is unlikely to get started. In this connection, the Russian delegation has submitted and continues to promote initiatives aimed at the institutionalization of the BWC regime. First and foremost, we mean the establishment of mobile medico-biological units and the Scientific Advisory Committee based on the equal geographic representation in the BWC framework, I will not go into details as we will talk about them later during the discussion of the relevant items of the agenda. It is clear that we will need extra funds to implement these projects. However, everyone will benefit from it, first of all, the developing countries which face serious challenges in biosecurity,

Moreover, Russia supports all other initiatives aimed at strengthening the BWC institutional basis. In this context, we welcome Chinese initiatives to establish an independent, non-discriminatory but resilient to the risks of proliferation cooperation regime of biotechnologies exchange as well as a voluntary Code of Conduct for biologists.

In conclusion, I would like to responsibly state that the Russian delegation is ready for the closest cooperation with the French MSP Chairmanship and all the delegations in order to achieve concrete practical results. I would like to underline that there is nobody else to do this job but us, the BWC community.

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