Fly On the Wall: 2010 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention

Last week I made it through the snow in Europe to attend meetings in Paris and Geneva.  In Paris I spoke at a joint meeting of the OECD and the ESRC Genomics Network, Delivering Global Promise Through the Life Sciences.  (I'll post a link to the slides when the conference puts it online.)  Then I hopped a TGV to speak at the UN at the 2010 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention.

After giving my talk in Geneva, (here is my slide deck, "Engineering a More Secure Future") I sat in the back row of the official Meeting of States Parties.  I spent some time listening to the simultaneous translation of the public session on building national capacity for public health, watching the diplomatic sausage get made.

Among the interesting things I heard: the Russian representative emphasized their position on the need for a standing body for national inspection and enforcement of the Convention.  This from a country that, even after signing the BWC, maintained an extensive offensive biological weapons program until relatively recently.

Also, Iran asserted that it is having difficulty obtaining standard infectious disease strains due to various international restrictions and sanctions.  Noted that trust is a basis of all relationships.  Indeed.  Elsewhere in the building, Iran was simultaneously stating there would be no discussion of its uranium enrichment program in upcoming talks.

Finally, a minor tiff as Armenia made mention of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), whereupon Azerbajan, within whose borders that region is presently located, then exclaimed that discussing NK has no place at the BWC Conference.  Armenia returns with, approximately, 'Regardless of who owns land, all people deserve care.'  Can't argue with that.

Okay, then.  That's more than enough sausage for one day.