At the Ninth Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) in 2022, States Parties agreed to establish a new Working Group on the strengthening of the Convention, which will operate during the next intersessional period between 2023 and 2026. The agenda for the Working Group includes discussion on, among other things, compliance and verification. This is the first time in 20 years that verification will be formally discussed within the BWC framework, initiating a new process that opens a window of opportunity for States to advance work around monitoring and compliance.

This UNIDIR report, the first in a series, serves as a primer for the consideration of verification in the context of the BWC, with a particular focus on Article I and the core obligations contained in the title of the BWC. The paper begins with elements of a working definition of verification, before considering theoretically what contemporary biological weapons and biological weapons programmes might look like. The paper proceeds to discuss tools and approaches to verification of the BWC, and the importance of agreed procedures and resources, before concluding with some reflections on what the Working Group might be able to achieve.

This research was made possible by support from China and Effective Giving.

Citation: James Revill (2023) “Verifying the BWC: A Primer”, UNIDIR, Geneva, Switzerland.