The Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention took place in Geneva from 28 November to 16 December 2022. In this regard, we compiled a short compendium of recent publications that are relevant to the various topics that were discussed at this event.
Biosecurity and biosafety are important aspects of the life sciences and they have been discussed in the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) on several occasions. Moreover, several initiatives are underway to advance biosecurity and safety. However, these initiatives are often context specific and the effective implementation of biosecurity and biosafety measures around the globe remains inadequate. To address this gap, in 2022, France, Senegal and Togo submitted a revised proposal to the BWC for the “establishment of an international platform dedicated to biosecurity and biosafety: SecBio”. The proposal includes three pillars: a searchable repository for biosafety- and biosecurity-related materials; a learning module; and a forum for expert networking to exchange information, data and best practices. To this end, this report draws lessons from past initiatives to develop repositories, learning modules and expert forums in order to inform the development of the SecBio platform (and any such similar initiatives).
Efforts to enhance biological disarmament and build biosecurity can no longer be achieved by States alone. It will require support from stakeholders around the globe if we are to achieve progress in the Biological Weapons Convention and wider efforts to strengthen biological security. Unfortunately, stakeholder perspectives are not necessarily always well understood or reflected in biological disarmament diplomacy. And some sectors are almost entirely absent from discussions. To address this challenge, UNIDIR invited a diverse range of stakeholders and representatives from around the world and with diverse backgrounds to contribute their insights to this report. The contributions reflect activities they had undertaken in support of the BWC, what more their respective communities could do, and provide recommendations on what States Parties to the BWC should do (or not do) to advance the BWC. Collectively, these contributions provide several concrete ideas for BWC States Parties to consider in seeking to strengthen the Convention.
This publication offers an overview of existing literature relevant to understanding the linkages between gender and biological and chemical weapons; focusing on analyzing possible sex- and gender-specific effects of these weapons. It argues that sex- and gender-disaggregated data, as well as knowledge of gender perspectives, can contribute to States’ preparedness and enhance the effectiveness of assistance under the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions. It proposes a gender-responsive approach to assistance, which can help States and their populations to become more resilient to and recover more rapidly from chemical or biological incidents.
Since the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) opened for signature in 1972, biology and other converging disciplines have advanced considerably. These changes could have profound implications for a science-based disarmament agreement like the BWC. To address changes in biology and biotechnology, BWC States Parties have established processes to review developments in science and technology (S&T), including annual expert meetings on this topic. However, shortcomings are evident in the current approaches and many BWC States Parties have expressed support for a more systematic review of science and technology under the Convention. This study seeks to inform discussions on establishing a dedicated and systematic S&T review process under the BWC through an examination of existing S&T review-type mechanisms employed in different regimes beyond the BWC, a survey of States Parties views on a possible review mechanism and a study of past and present discourse on this issue in the BWC. Based on the analysis conducted, this study also presents options for BWC States Parties to consider ahead of the Ninth BWC Review Conference.
Twenty years after the termination of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) Ad Hoc Group negotiations, the notion of adopting a BWC verification protocol is now almost an article of faith among some States Parties to the Convention. Yet it is clear that in 2001, the work of the Ad Hoc Group was a long way from agreement around a robust regime capable of ensuring confidence in compliance with the BWC’s prohibitions. Moreover, if there are some elements of continuity in the biosecurity sphere since then, much has also changed – geopolitically, technologically and economically. These changes generate challenges as well as opportunities to strengthen the BWC, which remains a central multilaterally-agreed component of a much wider set of measures that have emerged over the last two decades to prevent the hostile use of biology and manage the challenge of dual use biology around the globe. This report looks at these changes and identifies areas to move forward.
The Ninth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) provides States parties with an important opportunity to advance biological disarmament and chart the future course of this increasingly important treaty. To stimulate thinking ahead of the Review Conference, which is currently scheduled for August 2022, this report provides a forthright assessment of the risks, benefits, and financial implications of four different potential Review Conference outcomes.
Progress in international cooperation under Article X of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is a prerequisite for success at the Ninth BWC Review Conference. This requires fresh thinking around options for Article X. To this end, UNIDIR sought input from a diverse range of experts on ideas for advancing Article X, with a particular focus on the promotional aspects of this important article. Building on the contributions of authors, this report outlines ten concrete ideas for States Parties to consider in seeking to enhance the implementation of Article X of the Biological Weapons Convention.
The Ninth Review Conference of the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) presents a unique opportunity for States Parties to strengthen this important disarmament agreement. To make the most of this opportunity, this report offers practical insights and lessons from past Review Conferences to help States Parties and stakeholders prepare for a successful outcome.
This factsheet outlines the current state of gender balance in the biological weapons regime, including an analysis of women’s participation in multilateral meetings, as well as potential sex-specific and gendered impacts of biological weapons. This resource offers recommendations to promote gender equality and to mainstream gender perspectives in the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.
This report outlines a number of trends that are facilitating advances in different areas of the life sciences, including immunology, neuroscience, human genetics and reproductive science, agriculture and infectious disease. Research and development in these fields is overwhelmingly undertaken for peaceful purposes and potentially provides many benefits to society, the global economy, and future generations. However, the same areas of research raise a number of ethical, legal, safety and security concerns, including concerns that developments therein could feed into of new forms of biological weapons with different and potentially more damaging effects to those of the past.