COVID-19 was a wake-up call for humanity. It revealed the devastating impact of infectious disease on our health and our societies. It also uncovered our shared vulnerability to catastrophic biological events and the lost lives, economic downturn, and global destabilization that they can cause. As we work to end the COVID-19 pandemic, we must simultaneously recognize that biological risks are growing. We face an increased threat of naturally occurring emerging diseases, as well as the potential for laboratory accidents and intentional misuse of life sciences and biotechnology. For these reasons, it is vital for us to work together – across the health, security, and development sectors – to enhance biopreparedness, biosafety, and biosecurity globally, and to reinforce the norm against the development and use of biological weapons.
The United States has made it clear that the weaponization of biological agents and toxins is unacceptable. Unfortunately, we are concerned that some nations still possess biological weapons programs, while other nations as well as nonstate actors seek to acquire them. We are therefore determined to strengthen and revitalize the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). As we look to the Ninth Review Conference, we urge all countries to take seriously the threat of biological weapons, and for the Review Conference to overcome differences and take urgent steps to guard against the development and use of biological weapons. We must explore novel measures to promote implementation, increase transparency, and enhance compliance; measures that address the biological weapons threat of today — and tomorrow. This will be challenging work; success will require delegations to break out of old all-or-nothing mindsets and build new habits of constructive cooperation. We must demonstrate, to the world and to each other, that our shared efforts are about achieving real-world results. That is why the United States will also be proposing immediate action at the Review Conference on a number of practical measures that will build capacity to counter biological threats and benefit BWC members. The United States is committed to working with all States Parties to strengthen the BWC, and with all responsible nations to end the development of biological weapons and the threat they pose. Through collective action to counter all manner of biological threats – naturally occurring, accidental, and deliberate – together we can achieve global health security for everyone, everywhere.