The Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG) held its first meeting in Aarhus, Denmark, from 22-26 July 1996 to begin the elaboration of a global protocol on safety in biotechnology. More than 90 delegations, including scientific and technical experts, representing both Parties and non-Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) attended the meeting, as did observers representing intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and industry. BSWG-1 marked the first formal meeting to develop a protocol under the CBD and to operationalize one of its key and most contentious components.
Although the meeting produced little in the way of written results, it represented a forum for defining issues and articulating positions characteristic of the pre-negotiation process. The meeting revealed several interesting dichotomies, including a fracture in the G-77/China bloc over elements to be included in the protocol, first observed in Jakarta at the second Conference of the Parties (COP-2) to the CBD, as well as strikingly divergent perspectives on biotechnology. Nonetheless, governments listed elements for a future protocol, agreed to hold two meetings in 1997 and outlined the information required to guide their future work.