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Participation in the Biological Weapons Convention
|Signed||10 April 1972|
|Location||London, Moscow, and Washington, D.C.|
|Effective||26 March 1975|
|Condition||Ratification by 22 states|
|Parties||182 as of September 2018|
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (usually referred to as the Biological Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BWC, or Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BTWC) was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.
The Convention was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The Geneva Protocol prohibits use but not possession or development of chemical and biological weapons.
The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts. It was signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925 and entered into force on 8 February 1928. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 7 September 1929. The Geneva Protocol is a protocol to the Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in Implements of War signed on the same date, and followed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.
A draft of the BWC, submitted by the Britishwas opened for signature on 10 April 1972 and entered into force 26 March 1975 when twenty-two governments had deposited their instruments of ratification. It commits the 182 states which are party to it as of September 2018 to prohibit the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. However, the absence of any formal verification regime to monitor compliance has limited the effectiveness of the Convention. An additional five states have signed the BWC but have yet to ratify the treaty.
The scope of the BWC's prohibition is defined in Article 1 (the so-called general purpose criterion). This includes all microbial and other biological agents or toxins and their means of delivery (with exceptions for medical and defensive purposes in small quantities). Subsequent Review Conferences have reaffirmed that the general purpose criterion encompasses all future scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention. It is not the objects themselves (biological agents or toxins), but rather certain purposes for which they may be employed which are prohibited; similar to Art.II, 1 in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Permitted purposes under the BWC are defined as prophylactic, protective and other peaceful purposes. The objects may not be retained in quantities that have no justification or which are inconsistent with the permitted purposes.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control treaty that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. The full name of the treaty is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction and it is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The treaty entered into force on 29 April 1997. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Very limited production for research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective purposes is still permitted. The main obligation of member states under the convention is to effect this prohibition, as well as the destruction of all current chemical weapons. All destruction activities must take place under OPCW verification.
As stated in Article 1 of the BWC:
"Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:
The United States Congress passed the Bioweapons Anti-Terrorism Act in 1989 to implement the Convention. The law applies the Convention's convent to countries and private citizens, and criminalizes violations of the Convention.
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.
The BWC has 182 States Parties as of September 2018, with the Central African Republic the most recent to become a party. The Republic of China (Taiwan) had deposited an instrument of ratification before the changeover of the United Nations seat to the People's Republic of China.
Several countries made reservations when ratifying the agreement declaring that it did not imply their complete satisfaction that the Treaty allows the stockpiling of biological agents and toxins for "prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes", nor should it imply recognition of other countries they do not recognise.
Of the UN member states and UN observer which are not a party to the treaty, five have signed but not ratified the BWC while a further 10 have neither signed nor ratified the agreement.
A long process of negotiation to add a verification mechanism began in the 1990s. Previously, at the second Review Conference of State Parties in 1986, member states agreed to strengthen the treaty by reporting annually on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to the United Nations. (Currently, only about half of the treaty signatories actually submit these voluntary annual reports.) The following Review Conference in 1991 established a group of government experts (known as VEREX). Negotiations towards an internationally binding verification protocol to the BWC took place between 1995 and 2001 in a forum known as the Ad Hoc Group. On 25 July 2001, the Bush administration, after conducting a review of policy on biological weapons, decided that the proposed protocol did not suit the national interests of the United States.
States Parties have formally reviewed the operation of the BWC at quinquennial review conferences held in 1980, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001/02, 2006, 2011, and 2016. During these review conferences, States Parties have reaffirmed that the scope of the Convention extends to new scientific and technological developments, and have also instituted confidence-building data-exchanges in order to enhance transparency and strengthen the BWC. Review conferences, other than the Fifth, adopted additional understandings or agreements that have interpreted, defined or elaborated the meaning or scope of a BWC provision, or that have provided instructions, guidelines or recommendations on how a provision should be implemented. These additional understandings are contained in the Final Declarations of the Review Conferences. There has been an increase in the percentage of delegates from States Parties who have been women since the first review conference, with just 7 percent in 1980 to 26 percent in 2011.
The Fifth Review Conference took place in November/December 2001, not long after 9/11 and the anthrax scare. Disagreement over certain issues, especially the fate of the Ad Hoc Group, made agreement on any final declaration impossible. The Conference was suspended for one year. When it was reconvened in November 2002, the Fifth Review Conference decided to hold annual meetings of States Parties over the inter-sessional period leading up to the Review Conference in 2006 to discuss and promote common understanding and effective action on a range of topics.
Agreement was reached on convening annual one-week-long "Meeting of States Parties" that would be preceded earlier in the year by a two-week "Meeting of Experts" who would look at specific list of topics:
In the final document of the Sixth Review Conference, held in 2006, it simply "notes" that the meetings "functioned as an important forum for exchange of national experiences and in depth deliberations among States Parties" and that they "engendered greater common understanding on steps to be taken to further strengthen the implementation of the Convention". The Conference "endorses the consensus outcome documents" from the Meeting of States Parties.
The Sixth Review Conference agreed to establish a second Inter-Sessional Process. The topics agreed upon were:
i. Ways and means to enhance national implementation, including enforcement of national legislation, strengthening of national institutions and coordination among national law enforcement institutions.
ii. Regional and sub regional cooperation on BWC implementation.
iii. National, regional and international measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity, including laboratory safety and security of pathogens and toxins.
iv. Oversight, education, awareness raising, and adoption and/or development of codes of conduct with the aim to prevent misuse in the context of advances in bio science and bio technology research with the potential of use for purposes prohibited by the Convention.
v. With a view to enhancing international cooperation, assistance and exchange in biological sciences and technology for peaceful purposes, promoting capacity building in the fields of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis, and containment of infectious diseases: (1) for States Parties in need of assistance, identifying requirements and requests for capacity enhancement, and (2) from States Parties in a position to do so, and international organizations, opportunities for providing assistance related to these fields.
vi. Provision of assistance and coordination with relevant organizations upon request by any State Party in the case of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons, including improving national capabilities for disease surveillance, detection and diagnosis and public health systems.
Topics i and ii were dealt with in 2007, iii and iv in 2008, v in 2009, and vi in 2010. For the second Inter-Sessional Process, the Meetings of Experts for each year was reduced to one week.
This section needs to be updated.December 2012)(
The Seventh Review Conference was held in Geneva from 5 to 22 December 2011. The Final Declaration document affirmed that "under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention" and "the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time."
Biological warfare (BW)—also known as germ warfare—is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war. Biological weapons are living organisms or replicating entities that reproduce or replicate within their host victims. Entomological (insect) warfare is also considered a type of biological weapon. This type of warfare is distinct from nuclear warfare and chemical warfare, which together with biological warfare make up NBC, the military initialism for nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). None of these are considered conventional weapons, which are deployed primarily for their explosive, kinetic, or incendiary potential.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty. The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity ; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. Between 1965 and 1968, the treaty was negotiated by the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, a United Nations-sponsored organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or often simply the Mine Ban Treaty, aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines) around the world. To date, there are 164 state parties to the treaty. One state has signed but not ratified the treaty, while 32 UN states, including the United States, Russia, China and India are non-signatories, making a total of 33 United Nations states not party.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, an organization that assesses nuclear weapon stockpiles, as of 2018, the Russian Federation possesses 7,850 total nuclear warheads, of which 1,600 are strategically operational. This is in large part due to the special bomber counting rules allowed by the New START treaty, which counts each strategic nuclear bomber as one warhead irrespective of the number of warheads—gravity bombs and/or cruise missiles carried by the aircraft. The figures are, by necessity, only estimates because "the exact number of nuclear weapons in each country's possession is a closely held national secret." In addition to nuclear weapons, Russia declared an arsenal of 39,967 tons of chemical weapons in 1997. The Soviet Union ratified the Geneva Protocol on April 5, 1928 with reservations. The reservations were dropped on January 18, 2001. Russia is also party to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Soviet Union had a peak stockpile of 45,000 nuclear warheads in 1986. It is estimated that from 1949 to 1991 the Soviet Union produced approximately 55,000 nuclear warheads.
The United States is known to have possessed three types of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat, when it detonated two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. It had secretly developed the earliest form of the atomic weapon during the 1940s under the title "Manhattan Project". The United States pioneered the development of both the nuclear fission and hydrogen bombs. It was the world's first and only nuclear power for four years (1945–1949), until the Soviet Union managed to produce its own nuclear weapon. The United States has the second largest number of deployed nuclear weapons in the world, after Russia.
Many nations continue to research and/or stockpile chemical weapon agents despite numerous efforts to reduce or eliminate them. Most states have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, which required the destruction of all chemical weapons by 2012. Twelve nations have declared chemical weapons production facilities and six nations have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. All of the declared production facilities have been destroyed or converted to civilian use after the treaty went into force. According to the United States government, at least 17 nations currently have active chemical weapons programs.
The United States biological weapons program began in 1943 and has been terminated in 1969. It is replaced by the United States biological defense program.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty that prohibits the use, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster bombs, a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions ("bomblets") over an area. The convention was adopted on 30 May 2008 in Dublin, and was opened for signature on 3 December 2008 in Oslo. It entered into force on 1 August 2010, six months after it was ratified by 30 states. As of September 2018, 108 states have signed the treaty and 105 have ratified it or acceded to it.
The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 was a piece of U.S. legislation that was passed into law in 1990. It provided for the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention as well as criminal penalties for violation of its provisions. The law was amended in 1996 and has been used to prosecute several individuals.
The 13 steps are identified in a paragraph of the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, providing a set of 'practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons'. Article VI is the part of the Treaty that provides for disarmament, including nuclear disarmament.
VEREX was an ad hoc committee assembled by the Third Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) to research verification measures to enforce the BWC. The committee of experts analyzed strengths and weaknesses of their recommendations, criterion by which activities can be labeled as prohibited or permitted, cost of creating verification measures, and the degree to which measures might impact permitted research and development. Participants met in a series of four sessions from 1992-1993.
The 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 3 to 28 May 2010. The President of the Review Conference is Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the opening of the conference to note that "sixty five years later, the world still lives under the nuclear shadow".
A chemical weapon (CW) is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "the term chemical weapon may also be applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled, are also considered weapons themselves."
The Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition, Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair or Assembly, also known as the Kinshasa Convention, aims at regulating small arms and light weapons (SALW) and combating their illicit trade and trafficking in Central Africa.
The United States biological defense program—in recent years also called the National Biodefense Strategy—began as a small defensive effort that paralleled the country's offensive biological weapons development and production program, active between 1943 and 1969. Organizationally, the medical defense research effort was pursued first (1956-1969) by the U.S. Army Medical Unit (USAMU) and later, after the discontinuation of the offensive program, by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Both of these units were located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories were headquartered. The current mission is multi-agency, not exclusively military, and is purely to develop defensive measures against bio-agents, as opposed to the former bio-weapons development program.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. It was passed on 7 July 2017. In order to come into effect, signature and ratification by at least 50 countries is required. For those nations that are party to it, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities. For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.