Articles I-II

Speakers reaffirmed their commitment to Article I, and that the prohibitions on the development, production, stockpiling or other acquisition or retention of biological weapons included in Article I were applicable to all potential scientific and technological developments. Participants expressed their concern that non-compliance with Article I should continue to be addressed.

A few participants suggested that in the context of strengthening compliance with Article I, there was a need for definition or clarification of the terms within the Article, although some participants noted that the international community has been well served by the descriptive, non-exhaustive approach of Article I. Delegations emphasized that the prohibitions in Article I implicitly banned the use of biological weapons, as foreseen in the preamble to the Convention. In this context, participants agreed to discuss the proposal contained in BWC/CONF.IV/COW/WP.2 under item 13 of the agenda of the Conference. Some proposals addressed the issue as a possible subject for the Final Declaration.

In the context of Article II, statements by States Parties on their compliance with this Article were welcomed. It was proposed that States Parties should provide additional information on the destruction of old BW stocks. Some delegations noted that CBM Form F provided an appropriate channel for such information.

Articles III-IV

Delegations reaffirmed the importance of Article III. Some participants considered that national export licensing systems were a necessary means to implement the obligation of this Article. It was pointed out that such measures should not hamper transfer of technology for peaceful purposes. Some delegations suggested that efforts to strengthen the Convention should include consideration of multilaterally-agreed guidelines on the implementation of Article III and recalled that under the Declaration of the Third Review Conference the implementation of this Article should continue to be subject to multilateral consideration.

Many delegations highlighted the national measures they had taken to meet the requirements of Article IV. Participants called on all States Parties to declare the steps they had taken in this context, as required under CBM Form E agreed at the Third Review Conference. Several delegations drew attention to the risk of acquisition of relevant materials by groups or individuals for terrorist purposes, and called on all States Parties to review their national measures to address this threat. The importance of regional cooperation to aid the implementation of this Article was underlined.

Article V

The Conference reaffirmed the importance of the consultation and cooperation provisions of Article V. In particular, participants welcomed the continued contribution of the confidence-building measures established under this Article to enhancing confidence in compliance with the Convention. At the same time, they noted that participation in the CBMs was not universal, and urged all States Parties who had not done so to meet their political obligations in this context. It was noted that, in accordance with its mandate, the Ad Hoc Group is considering the incorporation of existing and further enhanced confidence-building and transparency measures, as appropriate, into a future regime to strengthen the Convention.

It was recognized that, further to the provisions of Article V, States Parties' efforts to strengthen the Convention were continuing through the Ad Hoc Group established by the Special Conference in 1994. Several delegations drew attention to the importance of the work of the Ad Hoc Group and the progress it had made thus far, and urged the intensification and early fulfilment of the Group's mandate.

Article VI-IX

While reaffirming the validity of the procedures contained in Article VI to deal with alleged breaches of obligations under the Convention, several participants expressed the view that consideration of such issues should not be limited to these procedures. It was widely noted that the Ad Hoc Group was considering, in accordance with its mandate, a system of measures to promote compliance with the Convention, including measures for the investigation of alleged use. It was the view of one delegation that such measures would need to include consideration by the United Nations Security Council as provided for under Article VI.

In reviewing Article VII, participants reaffirmed that assistance required under this Article should be provided promptly. It was suggested that detailed provisions to this end could be considered by the Ad Hoc Group.

States Parties reaffirmed the validity and importance of the explicit ban on the use of biological weapons established by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. Participants welcomed further withdrawals by some States Parties of their reservations to the Geneva Protocol and called on those who had not yet done so to do likewise. In this context, United Nations General Assembly resolution 51/45 P was noted. The point was made by a few delegations that the maintenance of any purported right of retaliatory employment in warfare of any of the objects prohibited in the Convention contradicted its principles and purposes.

The deposit of the 65th instrument of ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention on 31 October 1996, allowing its entry into force in April 1997, was welcomed by participants. Several delegations called on all States Parties, and in particular the two declared possessors of chemical weapons, who had not yet done so, to ratify the Convention before entry into force.

Article X

The Conference reaffirmed the importance of Article X as an integral part of the Convention. Several delegations stressed the need for the provisions of this Article to be monitored and verified, in common with provisions contained within other Articles.

Some delegations drew attention to developments since the Third Review Conference in the area of international cooperation in relevant fields, and in particular those consequent to the Rio Conference, Agenda 21 and the signing of the Convention on Biodiversity in 1993. While the extension of the WHO's activities in surveillance and control of infectious disease was welcomed, further efforts in this area were called for both from specialized international organizations, and from States Parties. In this context, special reference was made to cooperation with the ICGEB, and it was suggested by a delegation that more States Parties should participate in its work.

Some participants drew attention to their national cooperative activities and programmes in relevant areas. It was noted that in accordance with its mandate, the Ad Hoc Group was considering specific measures designed to ensure effective and full implementation of Article X. It was the view of several delegations that no measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention should impose restrictions and/or limitations on the transfer of scientific knowledge, technology, equipment or materials for purposes consistent with the objectives of the Convention.

Articles XI, XIII, XIV and XV

In discussion on Article XI, States Parties noted the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran as contained in BWC/CONF.IV/COW/WP.2 to amend the title and Article I of the Convention. While views were expressed regarding this proposal, suggesting that it should be duly noted, the Conference also noted that a full discussion would take place under the separate item 13 of the agenda of the Conference. It was also noted that the proposal had been passed to the Depositaries for circulation to all States Parties. The Chairman recalled the last sentence of the Third Review Conference Declaration on the need not to affect the universality of the Convention and one delegation suggested a possible follow-up of this issue by the Ad Hoc Group.

There were no new proposals put forward in relation to Article XIII, and it was suggested that in its Final Declaration the Conference repeat the language on this Article from the Final Declaration of the Third Review Conference.

In relation to Article XIV, States Parties welcomed the new accessions to the Convention since the Third Review Conference, and reiterated their call for universal adherence to the Convention. It was suggested that the Final Declaration of the Conference include an appeal to this effect.

In noting the importance of the provisions of Article XV, the suggestion was made that the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Group established by the Special Conference in 1994 fully respect the status of the languages of the Convention and the United Nations system.

AGENDA ITEM 11 (Article XII)

Consideration was given to the degree to which the issues identified by the Third Review Conference for follow-up remained fully relevant, required updating or had been overtaken by events since then.

With reference to Article XII, it was proposed that the Conference should set a tentative date for the Fifth Review Conference. In this regard, participants drew attention to the final report of the Special Conference of 1994, which provided for the holding of a Special Conference, if necessary, after the Fourth Review Conference, to consider the report of the Ad Hoc Group. It was therefore suggested that the Conference should decide whether the Fifth Review Conference should consider the conclusions of this Special Conference. The Chairman drew attention to the last item included in the Declaration of the Third Review Conference, which stated:

"In the light of these considerations and of the provisions of Article XI, whether or not follow-up action is called for to create further cooperative measures in the context of Article V or legally binding improvements to the Convention or a combination of both."

It was agreed that the Review Conference recommend that conferences of States Parties to review the operation of the Convention should be held at least every five years.


Many delegations expressed the view that the Review Conference should welcome and endorse the report of the Ad Hoc Group, though others suggested that endorsement would not be appropriate; an alternative might be to take note with appreciation of the report.

The good progress achieved by the Ad Hoc Group, as reflected in its report from September 1996, was welcomed and highlighted by a number of delegations. This formed a sound basis for future work.

There was wide support for the intensification of the Ad Hoc Group's work. A number of delegations emphasized the importance of the Review Conference sending a clear signal of support for this intensification and for the early completion of its work, well before the next Review Conference. It was suggested that setting a target date of 1998 would help this process. However, other delegations felt that any deadlines would be artificial and stressed the importance of the Ad Hoc Group having time to consider thoroughly the issues, given their complexity. A number of delegations also stressed that in intensifying its work, the Ad Hoc Group should also seek to shift to a new phase, including improved working methods which might be of a more focused text-based nature.

Other issues raised included the importance of encouraging more States Parties to take part in the Ad Hoc Group's work, with a view to strengthening the Convention's universality; the need to avoid touching the Ad Hoc Group's mandate; and the continuing validity of existing CBMs and consultative procedures elaborated by the Third Review Conference, pending the outcome of the Ad Hoc Group's work.


The Chairman drew the Committee's attention to the sub-items for consideration under agenda item 13, and advised that the issues under (a) had been comprehensively discussed under agenda item 12. On sub-item (b), the Chairman noted that initial views had been expressed under Articles I and XI on the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran to amend the Convention to include the prohibition of use of biological weapons.

Discussion of the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as contained in BWC/CONF.IV/COW/WP.2, focused on two elements: on the one hand the substantive issues raised by the proposal, and on the other its procedural handling. With regard to the first element, there was universal condemnation by States Parties of the use of biological weapons. Delegations reaffirmed their view that the ninth paragraph of the preamble clearly expressed the intention of the Convention to prevent the use of biological weapons. Many participants held the opinion that the prohibition in Article I on developing, producing, stockpiling or otherwise acquiring or retaining biological weapons implicitly and effectively prohibited any use of biological weapons and that the Final Declarations of previous Review Conferences had restated this view.  It was also pointed out that United Nations Security Council resolution 620 (1988), and the mandate of the Ad Hoc Group established in 1994, also implicitly reconfirmed the ban on use by addressing measures to investigate alleged use of biological weapons. Several speakers considered that the issues raised in the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran would most appropriately be addressed through an explicit statement in the Final Declaration of the Conference's view of the Convention's prohibition on use. In this regard, many participants recommended the proposed language (contained in BWC/CONF.IV/COW/WP.1) of South Africa; one delegation stated that the most simple and direct wording would be preferable.

Some speakers raised the question of why an explicit reference to the use of biological weapons had not been included in the Convention when it was negotiated. It was the view of some delegations at the time that this had been an imperfection, which continued to require correction. Others considered that the Convention had been negotiated as a complement to the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and that no repetition of the explicit ban on use of biological weapons therein was therefore required. One delegation suggested that the possible connection between continued reservations to the Geneva Protocol for retaliatory use of biological weapons by some States Parties and the exclusion of use of biological weapons from the explicit prohibitions of the Convention did raise doubts about whether the Convention also banned the use of biological weapons; the "travaux préparatoires" in the ENDC were also quoted to that effect.

In noting their view that the Convention should be strengthened by making explicit the ban on use of biological weapons, several delegations drew attention to the provision for amendment in Article XI of the Convention. They emphasized that the Convention clearly anticipated a future need for amendment. Other delegations expressed caution about initiating a process of amendment to an established international instrument. It was pointed out that amendment to the provision of one Article would open up the Convention for possible amendments to its other provisions, which could weaken it. The risk of the possibility of an amended Convention creating a two-tier regime, in which States Parties who had not accepted the amendment would appear to condone use of biological weapons, was underlined. The difficulty of ratification of amendments by national governments and requirement for national implementing legislation were also raised. The view was expressed that a simple amendment such as this, which made explicit a prohibition which the Convention already implicitly includes, should however not present insurmountable problems to States Parties.

With respect to the element of the discussion on the procedural handling of the proposal by the Islamic Republic of Iran, it was widely noted that Article XI provided insufficient guidance on the procedure for considering and agreeing amendments to the Convention. Many participants drew attention to the provision of Article 40, paragraph 2, of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which stipulates that all States Parties must be notified of any proposal to amend a multilateral treaty; and must have the right both to take part in any decision as to the action to be taken in regard to such a proposal, and the negotiation and conclusion of any agreements to amend the Treaty. In this regard, delegations from the three Depositaries reported on the action taken by their governments to circulate the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran to all States Parties.

The Chairman drew delegations' attention to the need for the Conference to consider what action might be taken consequent to the proposal in BWC/CONF.IV/COW/WP.2. Several views were expressed: it was suggested that the Depositaries, after a period for adequate consideration of the proposal by all States Parties, should convene a Special Conference to take a decision on the proposal. One delegation suggested that the Special Conference to be convened to consider the final report of the Ad Hoc Group could also consider the proposed amendment. One delegation suggested that this proposed amendment should be the subject of consensus agreement only. Other delegations stressed the need not to prejudice the consultations being carried out by the Depositary States. There was a general agreement that the issue of use should continue to be considered by the Review Conferences.