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On 45th anniversary of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention coming into force, India invokes the Wuhan Coronavirus, calls for strengthening WHO

The global economic and social implications of the pandemic, caused by Covid-19, have underlined the need for international cooperation, including institutional strengthening of the WHO, the MEA statement read

Taking a strong note on the possibility of China unleashing the biological weapon of Wuhan COVID-19, the Indian government on Friday demanded the strict compliance of a global treaty banning the production of the entire range of biological weapons of mass destructions. India also highlighted the need for an effective response to the challenges posed by new scientific developments in the area.

The significant statement by the Indian government comes at a time when the Chinese coronavirus has caused a health emergency across the world. This is the first time that India has tacitly insinuated that China may have used a bio-weapon against other countries.

In making the fresh call to ban biological weapons on the occasion of 45th anniversary of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) coming into force, India made mention of the fast-spreading coronavirus and its global impact.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs, without elaborating, said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for international cooperation, including institutional strengthening of the World Health Organisation.

It said India has been working with other member countries of the Convention to establish a database which can play an important role in dealing with bio-threats and bio-emergencies.

Read: WHO chief who shielded China in the wake of Wuhan Coronavirus had covered up other epidemics in the past: Here are the details

“India strongly believes that the BWC must respond effectively to the challenges posed by the new and emerging scientific and technological developments of relevance to the Convention,” the MEA said.

It said India has been submitting an annual resolution at the UN General Assembly on the “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament”, which has been adopted by consensus.

While reiterating the “high importance” that New Delhi attached to the bioweapon accord, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated, “The global economic and social implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have underlined the need for international cooperation, including institutional strengthening of the World Health Organisation.”

Part of the MEA release read (emphases added):

India strongly believes that the BWC must respond effectively to the challenges posed by the new and emerging scientific and technological developments of relevance to the Convention. India has been submitting an annual Resolution at the UN General Assembly on the “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament”, which has been adopted by consensus.

The global economic and social implications of the pandemic, caused by Covid-19, have underlined the need for international cooperation, including institutional strengthening of the WHO.

In addition, they have highlighted the need for strengthening cooperation amongst the States Parties to the BWC aimed at full and effective implementation of the Convention in all its aspects. India has been working with fellow States Parties to establish an Article VII database which can play an important role in dealing with bio-threats and bio- emergencies.

India has also been highlighting the dangers from the possible use, in future, of microorganisms as biological weapons by terrorists through its annual Resolution at the UN General Assembly, titled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring the weapons of mass destruction”, which has been adopted, annually since 2002, by consensus“.

The Biological Weapons Convention came into effect in 1975 and 183 countries are parties to it. The convention calls for prohibition to development, production and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. The BWC was the first multilateral treaty banning the production of the entire range of biological and chemical weapons.

Read: Spain to send back China’s Wuhan coronavirus testing kits over faulty results, 80% of kits sold to the Czech Republic by China are flawed: Reports

“In addition, they have highlighted the need for strengthening cooperation amongst the States Parties to the BWC aimed at full and effective implementation of the Convention in all its aspects,” the MEA said.

Pointing out that India has been “highlighting the dangers from the possible use, in future, of microorganisms as biological weapons by terrorists”, MEA said that it “takes this opportunity to call upon all States Parties to the BWC to recommit themselves to full and effective implementation of the convention and full compliance with it, in letter and spirit.”

“India reaffirms its unwavering commitment to continue to work together with fellow States Parties towards strengthening the Convention in all its aspects,” it added.

Ahead of the ninth Review Conference of the Convention in 2021, India reiterated its call for putting in place a comprehensive and legally binding protocol having a non-discriminatory verification mechanism to strengthen norms to deal with biological weapons. 

Interestingly, India’s reference on Chinese virus in BWC came after both the United States and Russia raised COVID-19 on the 45th anniversary of the biological weapons convention. 

The coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed over 21,000 people and infected close to 500,000 in nearly 150 countries.

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