Substance hidden under a mountain of paper: The BWC Experts’ meeting in 2003
Disarmament Diplomacy, 73, .
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The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) version of Waiting for Godot1 finally got underway in Geneva in August 2003. Regular readers of Disarmament Diplomacy will recall the "dismal context"2 of 2001 for the BWC when the collapse of efforts to conclude a verification and compliance Protocol and the suspension of the Fifth Review Conference represented the nadir of the Convention's life to date. It also looked like 2002 would end with a continued procession along the "ruinous path"3 of biological disarmament, until the President of the Review Conference, Ambassador Tibor Tóth of Hungary, produced victory of sorts with a 'take it or leave it' proposal.
The Fifth Review Conference decided to establish a series of annual meetings between 2003 and 2005, each of which would be preceded by a series of two-week experts meetings on the five identified topics for discussion.4 Even this welcome outcome could only be seen as the lowest common denominator solution and, as such, hopes for the new process were minimal.
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