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Annan Calls for Bioterror Defense Strategies

Global Security Newswire

The international community must give a higher priority to developing new strategies against bioterrorism, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said yesterday (see GSN, April 20).

Biotechnology has value in the fight against disease, but scientific advances could also “bring incalculable harm if put to destructive use by those who seek to develop designer drugs and pathogens,” Annan told the General Assembly.

“Soon, tens of thousands of laboratories worldwide will be operating in a multibillion-dollar industry,” Annan said, according to the Associated Press. “Even students working in small laboratories will be able to carry out gene manipulation.”

U.N. nations should consider organizing of forum of governmental officials and science and public health experts to develop a strategy “to ensure that biotechnology’s advances are used for the public good and that the benefits are shared equitably around the world,” Annan said.

Annan also discussed his report on preparing a global plan against terrorism, requested by leaders at the 2005 World Summit, AP reported. Recommendations are organized around five elements: persuading people not to support or undertake acts of terrorism, preventing terrorists from conducting strikes, blocking state support for terrorism, strengthening nations’ abilities to repel terrorism, and ensuring that victims and terror suspects receive their due human rights.

One area that must be addressed is use of the Internet by terrorists, Annan said. There are now thousands of terrorist Web sites, compared to fewer than 20 in 1998, he said. “Indeed, it seems that some major recent attacks drew support from content on the Internet,” Annan said.

The General Assembly is first scheduled to consider the counterterrorism plan on May 11 (Edith Lederer, Associated Press/phillyBurbs.com, May 3).