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Briefing to the Security Council: Threats to International Peace and Security: Mr. Thomas Markram, Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (13 May 2022)

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As delivered

Mr. President,
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
I would like to extend my appreciation to Council members for the opportunity to brief you this morning.

I am aware that the Russian Federation has submitted new information regarding allegations of biological weapons programmes in Ukraine.

I wish to note that Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu informed the Council in her respective briefings on 11 and 18 March 2022, that the United Nations was not aware of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine. This remains the case today.

I would like to note that the United Nations currently has neither the mandate nor the technical or operational capacity to investigate this information.

I recall that the relevant instrument of international law is the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons.

The Russian Federation, the United States, and Ukraine are all States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention.

Mr. President,

The Biological Weapons Convention does contain several measures to which concerned States Parties can have recourse in order to address situations in which they have concerns or suspicions about the activities of their peers.
For example, pursuant to Article V of the Convention, its States Parties undertake to consult one another and to co-operate in solving any problems which may arise in relation to the objective of, or in the application of the provisions of, the Convention.

Such consultation and cooperation can take place through appropriate international procedures, including on a bilateral basis between the concerned States Parties.

One such international procedure that has been elaborated within the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention is the convening of a consultative meeting.

Other possibilities for addressing concerns between States Parties also exist under Article V of the Convention, as well as under Article VI.

I would therefore encourage any States Parties with compliance concerns to use the procedures available under the Convention.

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs stands ready to support any procedures under the Biological Weapons Convention that States Parties may decide to use.

As Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu had mentioned in her previous statements to the Council, the Biological Weapons Convention needs to be operationalized and institutionalized to ensure it is properly equipped and resourced to face future challenges. The Convention’s upcoming Ninth Review Conference in November and December this year presents an ideal opportunity for its States Parties to strengthen the Convention.

I thank you very much for your attention.