Scientific and technical advances in the fields of chemistry or the life sciences involve multiple stakeholders – International Committee of the Red Cross

Link to the Red Cross

Scientific and technical advances in the fields of chemistry or the life sciences involve multiple stakeholders. It is therefore crucial for States to enter into dialogue with all these actors which include the public health sector, life scientists, industry, law enforcement agencies and the defence and security community. Only through such a multidisciplinary approach will all the relevant actors be in a position to come to understand their role as indispensable partners.

The ICRC hopes that the first links which have been established last year at the intersessional Biological Weapons Convention expert meeting between governmental officials and the scientific community will be further enhanced over the coming years. The central legal pillars are certainly the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, but effective prevention will only occur if all the stakeholders have a broad understanding of the risks associated with the scientific and technical advances. This should lead to the creation of a ” culture of responsibility ” within the scientific and industrial community. The ICRC considers that such a ” culture of responsibility ” is the most direct and effective means to ensure that humanity ultimately benefits from new advances. There is also an obvious need to ensure that all universities offering curricula in life sciences and in chemistry include at least one mandatory session on the risks, the pertinent rules of national and international law and the responsibilities of scientists to prevent the hostile use of their research and its practical applications.

States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention are about to adopt the Final Document of the 6th Review Conference. The ICRC hopes that the Final Declaration will have reaffirmed unambiguously the obligation of States Parties to respect and ensure respect for the absolute prohibition of biological weapons. It seems also most probable that States Parties will have agreed to an intersessional work programme in the run-up to the next Review Conference in 2011. Such an intersessional programme on various issues relevant to the Convention will certainly contribute to universalizing and further strengthening it at international and national levels.

With regard to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the ICRC sincerely hopes that in-depth preparations in view of the 2008 Second Review Conference of this convention will already start in 2007 in order to ensure that States Parties will be in a position to address successfully all relevant issues at that Review Conference, in particular those issues related to scientific developments and which might have profound implications for the continued relevance of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Now to sum up: considering the massive increase in the number of potentially dangerous agents and their proliferation among multiple actors, humanity risks losing the struggle against poisoning and the deliberate spread of disease. But this is not inevitable. We can minimize the risks by focusing our joint efforts on reaffirming existing legal and ethical norms and engaging not only government experts but also all relevant scientists and industry in cooperative preventive action.

I would like to conclude by going back to 1918. Following the use of chemical weapons in World War I, the ICRC issued an impassioned appeal, stating that if warfare by poison were accepted, and I quote, “we can only see ahead a struggle which will exceed in barbarity anything which history has known so far. It protests  with all the force at its command against such warfare”.

Today, this appeal is as valid as ever.

Thank you.

Continue …


~ by blombladivinden on February 2, 2012.

One Response to “Scientific and technical advances in the fields of chemistry or the life sciences involve multiple stakeholders – International Committee of the Red Cross”

  1. drop dead

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