In 1986, the Second Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention decided that States Parties should submit reports on Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) in order to “prevent or reduce the occurrence of ambiguities, doubts and suspicions and in order to improve international co-operation in the field of peaceful biological activities.”
States Parties have to submit their CBM reports by 15 April every year giving details of their biological research centres and laboratories and exchange information on outbreaks of diseases on their territory. The CBM forms were designed by a meeting of scientific and technical experts in 1987 and were modified and considerably expanded by the Third Review Conference in 1991. The Sixth and Seventh Review Conferences in 2006 and 2011 respectively agreed on various additional changes to the forms and the submission process.
Although the CBMs are not derived directly from the text of the Convention itself, the decision of the Second Review Conference was a consensus decision by all BWC States Parties, meaning that participation in the CBMs is a requirement for all State Parties to the Convention. At many meetings since 1986, States Parties have recognized the importance of the exchanges of information among them through the CBM mechanism, noting that they provide transparency and build trust.
Compiling a CBM submission can be a complex task particularly for the first time. In order to assist government officials, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs with the support of the European Union prepared a Guide to Participating in the Confidence Building Measures of the Biological Weapons Convention. This has been done as part of the European Union’s 2009-2011 Joint Action and 2012-2015 Council Decision in support of the BWC. The aim of the guide is to provide practical advice and guidance to officials responsible for preparing CBM submissions.
The guide contains background information on the CBM process in addition to general advice for preparing to participate in the CBM exchange. It also includes detailed guidance on gathering the specific information required for each CBM form.
The guide is available free to States Parties and is published in all six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). It is also available to the public to and can be downloaded from the following website:
For more information, contact Mr. Daniel Feakes, Chief, Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit.
e-mail: dfeakes-at-unog.ch tel: +41 (0) 22 917 22 30
See also: www.unog.ch/bwc/cbms
Article written by Swapnaj Dutta