On 24 March 2005 the BioWeapons Prevention Project (BWPP) and the Geneva Forum co-organised a seminar in the Palais des Nations in Geneva to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
It was a tense time: the 5th review conference in 2001 had basically failed and following a one-year suspension, the states parties were able to agree on a work programme that eventually became known as the ‘intersessional process’ — a series of meetings of experts followed by meetings of states parties. In 2005 people began looking towards the 6th review conference that was to take place the next year. Expectations were not very high: saving a troubled treaty was back then the primary goal, The BTWC Implementation Support Unit did not yet exist; the small unit was to be one of the positive outcomes of that review conference.
For the meeting the BWPP and the Geneva Forum invited three speakers to highlight the (then) past, present and future of the BTWC: Erhard Geißler (Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine), Nicholas A. Sims (London School of Economics and Political Science) and John Borrie (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research).
Today, a commemorative event will take place in Geneva; the academic session in the afternoon jointly organised by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) will revisit some of the themes raised 10 years ago.
It is a good moment to reflect on what the issues were back then. The BWPP published an Occasion Paper with the three presentations: 30 Years of the BTWC: Looking Back, Looking Forward (June 2005), which is here now again available for download.