Below is the text of a document submitted to the thinkzone section of the BTWC website, which outlines potential measures which could be implemented as part of improving the Science and Technology review process.
Assessing the outcome of the Eighth Review Conference
in regard to the annual S & T review process
by Malcolm R. Dando , Kathryn Nixdorff and Graham S. Pearson
1. It has become evident from the consideration of the annual process for the review of relevant scientific and technological advances relevant to the Convention both at MSP/2015, when BWC.MSP/2015/WP.10 pointed out that an average of almost 4.5 hours a year had been used to review S & T advances, and from the Preparatory Committee meetings in April and August 2016 that States Parties are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of the present annual process.
2. At the Preparatory Committee meetings in April and August 2016, seven Working Papers were submitted in regard to S & T review. Papers on S & T review were submitted as follows: two by Switzerland (WP.8 and WP.16) and one each by Finland, Norway and Sweden (WP.7), Russia (WP.2), Spain (WP.27), United Kingdom (WP.4) and USA (WP.3). In addition the USA submitted a Working Paper on new S & T developments (WP.18).
3. It is therefore to be expected that the Eighth Review Conference will address how to carry out a more effective review of relevant S & T developments during the coming Intersessional Period between the Eighth Review Conference in 2016 and the Ninth Review Conference in 2021.
4. In order to evaluate the various proposals for annual S & T review that have been forward, the outcome of the Eighth Review Conference for annual S & T review, and to provide a comparison with the S & T review process that was applied during the Intersessional Period from 2012 to 2015, a set of measures have been identified. These measures will also enable the progress made at the Eighth Review Conference to be assessed. These measures are as follows:
Measures to evaluate the annual S & T review process
A. Rev Con decides topics for each year of the Intersessional Period
B. MSPs decides topics for each year of the Intersessional Period
A. Time for S&T review remains at 4.5 hours a year and is not expanded significantly
B. Time for S&T review expanded significantly
A. Actions recommended from S & T review decided at next Rev Con in 2021
B. Actions recommended from S & T review decided by MSP each year
A. Limited number of States only allowed to participate (Closed process) (((Note that there could also be regression at the Rev Con. So here the possibility of the limitation of participation to selected experts from a limited number (~15 or 20) of State Parties is option A and the present situation of an open process is option B.))
B. All States to participate if they wish (Open process)
A. Only experts in States delegations allowed to participate
B. Appropriate experts from government, academia and industry allowed to participate
A. Chair and Vice-Chairs of S&T review change each year
B. Chair and Vice-Chairs of S&T review are appointed for the duration of the Intersessional Period (i.e. until the next Rev Con)
A. Reports from relevant academia and industry for S & T review decided by States at the MSP each year
B. Reports from relevant academia and industry for S & T review decided, on basis of appropriate technical expertise, by the S & T review group each year
A. ISU support is not by a designated staff member
B. ISU support is by a designated officer appointed to support S & T review
A. No Temporary Working Groups allowed
B. Temporary Working Groups as proposed by Chair of S & T review and approved by MSP
A. Chair’s annual report on S & T review to MSP is a record of S & T meetings
B. Chair’s annual report on S & T review to MSP includes consensus view and recommendations for action
A. The outcome of actions agreed at Rev Con in 2016 to be reviewed and decisions taken on further action at Rev Con in 2021
B. The outcome of actions agreed at Rev Con 2016 to be reviewed by annual MSPs who will decide on action to be taken during the ISP and also report to 2021 Rev Con.
5. The above measures will enable the various proposals for annual S & T review that have been put forward and the outcome of the Eighth Review Conference for annual S & T review to be evaluated in comparison with the S & T review process that was applied during the Intersessional Period from 2012 to 2015.
6. If such an evaluation of the outcome of the Eighth Review Conference results in many more ‘B’ s than ‘A’s, then the States Parties will have made a welcome and significant step forward in regard to S & T review.
8 October 2016
-Malcolm R. Dando, Visiting Professor of International Security, Division of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1 DP, United Kingdom.
-Kathryn Nixdorff, Professor (Retired), department of Microbiology and Genetics, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany.
-Graham S. Pearson, Visiting Professor of International Security, Division of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1 DP, United Kingdom.