Monthly Archives: August 2019

Blog 2 – Experiences of a student at the Meetings of Experts of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

This second blog post covers both the second and third Meetings of Experts (MXs) of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). MX2 on science and technology took place on 31 July and 2 August (the day in between being the Swiss national day); MX3 on strengthening national implementation of the BTWC was a one-day event on 5 August.

MX2 impressions

Like at the start of the week I was still sitting behind The Trench nameplate, which was formally represented for the first time in these five MXs of 2019. MX2 was chaired by Mr Yury Nikolaichik of Belarus who decided to modify the agenda order for the sake of efficiency. He thus began with the general information leading to the specifics such as national reports. This change in the order did not bother most delegations. read more

Third tabletop exercise on emergency assistance in case of biological weapon use – First impressions

The day after the presentation of the report on the Article VII tabletop exercise (TTX) held in Lomé, Togo on 29 and 30 May to the states parties of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS) and the BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) ran another TTX in the United Nations building in Geneva. This time the focus was on a series of anthrax outbreaks that affected mostly herd animals, but also led to multiple human casualties. The scenario was a deliberate attempt to break with the habitual simulations of increasingly dire human pandemics. After all, the BTWC covers biological weapon (BW) use against animals and plants too. read more

Deciding on emergency assistance in case of biological weapons use

Today, in the Palais des Nations in Geneva we presented the report on the Tabletop Exercise (TTX) on the Implementation of Article VII of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS) and the BTWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU) organised in cooperation with UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament (UNREC) organised in Lomé, Togo on 28–29 May 2019.

Presenting the report summary to participants in the BTWC Meeting of Experts

Dr Ralf Trapp sharing his experiences. (With Ms Amélie Delaroche, Deputy Head of French Mission and Dr Élisande Nexon, FRS)

Being one of the more obscure provisions in the BTWC, Article VII only attracted state party attention over the past ten years or so. In follow-up to the decision of the 7th Review Conference (2011), parties to the convention looked for the first time more closely at the provision during the August 2014 Meeting of Experts (MX). As it happened, the gathering coincided with the expanding Ebola crisis in West Africa. The epidemic gave urgency to the concrete implementation of Article VII. The daily images of victims and fully protected medical staff broadcast around the world left lasting impressions of how a biological attack from another state or terrorist entity might affect societies anywhere. read more

Blog 1 – Experiences of a student at the Meetings of Experts of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

I am Chiara Barbeschi and study Security Studies (BSc) at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Interning at The Trench and representing the non-governmental organisation (NGO) as a Research Associate at the five Meetings of Experts (MXs) of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) is an incredible opportunity that Jean Pascal Zanders granted me. Blogging about it is a chance of sharing my perspective, impressions and account of the conference.

I know that there are also the daily factual reports Richard Guthrie writes and distributes in the meeting room. My posts convey the thoughts of a student experiencing the BTWC meetings for the first time. read more