On 19–20 September, ILPI, in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, organised a two-day workshop for Geneva-based diplomats on the science and politics of biological weapons and biology-related security issues. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which entered into force on 26 March 1975, is the main international convention addressing biological weapons. Its provisions include a total ban of the development, production, and stockpiling of all biological weapons.
While the prohibition itself is total, the convention suffers from the lack of a formal verification mechanism confirming the compliance of all States Parties. In addition, 21st century scientific and technological developments, including the emergence of ‘synthetic biology’ and genetic-engineering techniques such as CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), have brought to the fore the increasing interconnection between international security and science and technology. When the States Parties meet for the Eighth Review Conference of the BWC starting on 7 November 2016, they will have to take stock of these developments. On the one hand, the states parties must ensure that advances in science and technology do not undermine national or human security. On the other hand, they must make sure that scientific progress is not held back by overly restrictive security stipulations.
A full report on the seminar may be accessed here.