Janet Phelan: Report from Biological Weapons Convention

Clash Of Belief Systems Dominates The Biological Weapons Convention

Conflict broke out on the floor of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva on the third day of the three week long meeting, with the growing division between Russia and her allies on the one hand and the US and hers on the other, evidencing in verbal accusations launched by both sectors.

Russia exerted her “right of reply” to respond to statements made by the US and Sweden which implicated Syrian forces in the use of chemical weapons in that war torn country.

According to the spokesperson for the Russian Federation, such accusations were not only “off topic” at a meeting devoted to biological—not chemical—weapons but were also patently false.

More likely, asserted the Russian spokesman, was that US-affiliated “jihadists” used chlorine gas and attempted to pin this on the embattled Assad regime. The US, he declared, is known to be supporting terrorist groups such as Al Nusra in that region. …

I think of this conference at the United Nations as Ground Zero. Every five years, there is a Review Conference of the Biological Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland. For three weeks, delegates from over a hundred and seventy nations meet to discuss the latest advances in biological weapons—whose got ’em, who might have ’em and what to do to protect a vulnerable world from their proliferation and deployment.

It is a fairly low profile meeting, with little press interest and no major movements in international policy. For the fact is that the BWC is virtually the only international arms treaty that has no verification mechanism and no means of ensuring compliance.

However, if one has been following the bio trail, one might come to the conclusion that it is a very hot topic, littered with all kinds of evidence that state parties are failing to comply with the terms of the treaty and may have active biological weapons programs which they are attempting to obscure from international oversight.

One such state party, potentially the most powerful state party in the room, would be the United States of America. And nowhere was the clash of cultures which has split the world into US devotees and US critics more in evidence than in the Convention Hall that Wednesday morning, as US-aligned and non-aligned sectors accused each other of using the Convention for propaganda purposes. …

Some of you may already know that I was also scheduled to present on Wednesday. Representing ITHACA, a grassroots NGO established in 2009 for the purposes of engaging the US on pivotal human rights issues, I had traveled to Geneva to inform the Convention of the wealth of documentation pointing to biological weapons treaty violations by “the leader of the free world.” I made this trip to Geneva not because I believed that the UN would magically step in and correct the situation. Understanding the limitations of the treaty as well as the obvious tilt at the UN in favor of the US, I made this effort because the gravity of the situation demands attention from every possible sector.

My six minute presentation touched on a number of points wherein the bioweapons activity of the US had hit major media and a couple where the media had ignored the story. To read the presentation entire, you may click here. …


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