India on Friday pitched for strict compliance of a global treaty banning production of entire range of biological weapons of mass destructions, highlighting the need for effective response to the challenges posed by new scientific developments in the area. 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 also made a 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.
"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.
"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," it added.
"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.
The coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed over 21,000 people and infected close to 500,000 in nearly 150 countries.
The BWC was the first multilateral treaty banning the production of the entire range of biological and chemical weapons.
The MEA said India has 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.
"India 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," the MEA said.
"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.