Leaders from 40 countries in Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean came together in San José last week to discuss disarmament and rally support for the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC).
The convention, developed in 1972, was the first multilateral disarmament treaty to prohibit the production and use of biological and toxic weapons, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
The seminar was one of five organized by the European Union to unite leaders in regions around the world and educate them on recent efforts to uphold the convention.
The European Union chose Costa Rica to host this region’s seminar because of its reputation as a country that has worked toward disarmament for decades, explained German Ambassador Volkner Fink, speaking on behalf of the European Union. Germany assumed the 2007 E.U. presidency earlier this month.
“The European Union knows it cannot act alone in dealing with biological weapons threats,” said Andres Strub, an E.U. foreign relations representative. “This is a global threat and we must act together in cooperation.”
Edgar Ugalde, Costa Rica’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations, took advantage of the roomful of regional representatives at the seminar’s opening ceremony to promote the Costa Rica Consensus, a proposal to reward countries for spending on education and social programs rather than weapons.
E.U. business director in San José Tomás Abadía agreed the Consensus exemplifies “values well-established by Costa Rica” and “opens a political and intellectual space for industrialized nations to contribute to development,” according to the statement.
During the two-day seminar, E.U. experts offered other countries technical assistance related to the BTWC, which calls for legislation to combat the production of biological weapons, evaluations and international cooperation.