The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the first multilateral treaty to ban an entire weapons category, is based on a solid and widely accepted norm against the use of disease as weapon. The prohibition of biological weapons is comprehensive and covers all scientific developments through the 'general purpose criterion' contained in BWC Article I. Current political debates can be clustered in three interrelated issue areas: disarmament and non-proliferation; international cooperation and assistance; biosafety, biosecurity and health preparedness. Scientific and technological developments, a widened range of stakeholders, and a broadening perspective on the whole spectrum of biological risks are posing challenges to the BWC and its regime. Negotiations have been cumbersome and protracted, however, and while some progress has been made in the latter two clusters, in its core arms control and disarmament functions the BWC regime remains underdeveloped. Risks stemming from potential proliferation and, more acutely, from misperceptions and misinformation in the biological realm, render the BWC still relevant.
Jakob, Una. “The Biological Weapons Convention.” In Research Handbook on Arms Control Law, edited by Marauhn, Thilo; Myjer, Eric, 258-277. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2022. DOI: 10.4337/9781788111904.00031