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Biological Weapons Convention

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 just Biological Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BWC) was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production and use of an entire category of weapons (with exceptions for medical and defensive purposes in small quantities). It was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

It was opened for signature on April 10, 1972 and entered into force March 26, 1975 when twenty-two governments had deposited their instruments of ratification. It currently commits the 150 states that are party to it 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.

A long process of negotiation to add these missing elements began in the 1990s. Early in 2001, however, the Bush administration, after conducting a complete review of policy on biological weapons, decided that the protocol did not suit national interests of the United States, that it would interfere with the legitimate commercial and biodefense activity. Unlike most arms control agreements, the BWC also applies to private parties.

Having been suspended in December, 2001, negotiations for a ratification protocol are resuming in November, 2003. [1]

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