BWC 8th RevCon, 25 November
Ian McConville, Deputy Permanent Representative, Australian Delegation
Can I join others in the Western Group and across the BWC membership in thanking you and your team for all your commendable efforts to guide and steer us through the BWC Review Conference process, up to this final hour of our deliberations. You displayed skilled leadership and professionalism throughout our discussions, aided by the hard working Implementation Support Unit. Your outreach efforts were far reaching and substantive; as were your attempts to try and bridge the gap when the divide between delegations appeared so large.
It is of course a great disappointment that our ambitions were frustrated, notwithstanding the best efforts of states parties to come forward with innovative new ideas and solutions to transform the current status quo. Australia was pleased to have made a modest contribution to this in our role as co facilitator on the intersessional program (ISP) and Implementation Support Unit (ISU) along with Pakistan. But instead of an expanded intersessional program, we are left with a mere five days of annual discussions in the context of a “meeting of states parties”. This minimalist formula will sorely test our efforts to strengthen the BWC.
But we also need to reflect on what has been preserved in the course of this Eighth Review Conference. The BWC will carry on as the key multilateral reference point for combatting the real and growing risk of the use of bio-weapons; universalisation efforts will continue; and so too will the invaluable work of the ISU whose mandate has been thankfully renewed to support our ongoing, collective efforts to ensure the continuing relevance and importance of the BWC.
The challenge before us is clear: we need to break down the existing deep divisions among states parties so that our common goal of strengthening the BWC can continue apace; we need to find ways to maintain the broad engagement of civil society and academia in the workings of the BWC notwithstanding our truncated intersessional program; and we need to prepare the way now for a much more substantive outcome at the 2021 BWC RevCon in order to maintain a safe and secure world for us all.
I thank you, Mr President