UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for action in three areas to prevent a biological weapons catastrophe.
Guterres made this call in a video message to participants at the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.
Guterres said the first area of action is to strengthen the accountability provisions of the convention to ensure that scientific advances are not exploited for hostile purposes.
“Let’s make sure that science and technology are used for the benefit of humanity — not its destruction — and that peace remains at the heart of all scientific development and cooperation.”
Second, update the thinking on verification and compliance to fit today’s threats. The world has changed dramatically over the last five decades. The convention should change with it, he said.
Third, give the convention the increased financial and human resources it needs to carry out this important work, said Guterres.
“The world generously supports global regimes against chemical weapons and nuclear proliferation. We should do the same for biological weapons with a significant increase in the convention’s budget,” he said. “Now is the time to close off every avenue to the development and use of these weapons.”
Fifty years ago, when the Biological Weapons Convention was open for signature, the global community stood as one and declared that the deliberate use of disease as a weapon was an affront to humanity. The convention affirms the conscience of humankind, said Guterres.