MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA20

11 March 1999

Towards A Stronger International Regime Against Biological Weapons

Today I hosted the first meeting of the National Consultative Group on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Canberra. Comprised of experts from industry, academia and the scientific and defence communities, the NCG convened to examine ways to make a BWC verification protocol robust and workable, without interfering unduly with the operations of the biotechnology industry.

The outcomes of today's meeting will help inform the Government's approach to the protocol negotiations underway in Geneva.

Members of the Group agreed to a trial facility visit that will provide the Government with practical feedback on how draft provisions of the verification regime might affect the operations of industry.

The establishment of the National Consultative Group is a significant element in the Government's initiative to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. It demonstrates the seriousness of Australia's commitment to reduce the threat to global security posed by biological weapons.

The other major part of the Government's initiative took place in September 1998, when Australia convened an international meeting of ministers in New York to discuss ways of accelerating the protocol negotiations. At that meeting, 57 countries co-sponsored a declaration calling for the conclusion of negotiations as soon as possible. The meeting also agreed on the value of close dialogue and cooperation with industry to enable it to contribute to the development of an effective and credible protocol.

As the international community moves closer to agreement on the text of a verification protocol, Australia will continue to take an active role. Working towards an effective ban on biological weapons as soon as possible is high on our agenda for ensuring regional stability and global security.

List of Participants in the National Consultative Group on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

For further information: 

Ministerial - Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500 or
Departmental - Tony Melville / Geoff Leach (02) 6261 1555


Local Date: Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:36:36 EST

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