"A (F)utile Intersessional Process? Strengthening the BWC by Defining Its Scope" (Authors: Cindy Vestergaard and Animesh Roul)

October 12, 2011

During its thirty-five years, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has been scarred by treaty violations, failed compliance negotiations, and ambiguous treaty language. Essentially a bruised paper tiger, the BWC adds no clarification to its distinction between biological activities for peaceful versus hostile purposes and has amplified—rather than lessened—mistrust in states' biological research and development potential. For the past two decades, these circumstances have generated multilateral annual discussions on BWC issues. From 2003 to 2010, intersessional talks centered on less controversial topics in an attempt to save the treaty from spiraling political tensions. States generally agree that this intersessional process was not futile and that it cooled some of the negative effects of the failed negotiations over a compliance protocol. At the upcoming Seventh BWC Review Conference this December, treaty members will weigh the utility of extending the process and its accompanying administrative Implementation Support Unit. The challenge will be to stimulate the evolution of the BWC beyond its hollow characterization to strengthen and inspire confidence in the treaty regime. This article examines the BWC's ambiguous language and how it has affected diplomacy, reflects on intersessional discussions, acknowledges the (limited) scope of appropriate peaceful activities that can be identified under the BWC, and addresses ways in which to reinvigorate the treaty.

Read More: Cindy Vestergaard  & Animesh Roul,  "A (F)UTILE INTERSESSIONAL PROCESS? Strengthening the BWC by Defining Its Scope", The Nonproliferation Review Volume 18, 2011 - Issue 3: GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON RE-ENVISIONING THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION. Pages 489-497 

| Published online: 12 Oct 2011/ https://doi.org/10.1080/10736700.2011.618616


The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 18 Issue 3, 2011, 489-497