Governments urged to join Biological Weapons Convention

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Weapons collected in Libya to prevent arms proliferation. Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti

The 23 countries that have not yet joined the Biological Weapons Convention have been urged to do so without delay.

The call has come from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.

These weapons release infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses to incapacitate or kill people.

Cathrine Hasselberg reports.

The Convention opened for signature in April 1972 and entered into force in March 1975.

In his message, the UN Secretary-General notes that 40 years later the Biological Weapons Convention has the support of 173 States parties.

Ban Ki-moon says that in this anniversary year, all countries should reaffirm their unequivocal rejection of the use of disease as a weapon.

He points out that although there is a strong norm against the use and possession of biological weapons, there is still a need for vigilance.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa demonstrates the damage which diseases can inflict, Mr. Ban adds.

That damage, the Secretary-General warns, could increase massively were such diseases deliberately misused as weapons.

He says a conference in 2016 to review the Convention is an opportunity to adapt it to the challenges posed by advances in science and technology as well as potential risks posed by terrorists and other non-state actors.

Cathrine Hasselberg United Nations

Duration: 1’07″

 

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