Issues & Analysis
Jonathan Tucker, Director, CNS Chemical and Biological Weapons
August 2001 (Updated September 2002)
The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) bans the development, stockpiling, transfer, and use of biological weapons (BW) worldwide, but it does not include formal measures to ensure compliance by its 144 member-states. This lack of an enforcement mechanism has undermined the effectiveness of the BWC, as it is unable to prevent systematic violations by the Soviet Union/Russia and others.
Because certain materials and equipment are suitable for both a BW program and legitimate commercial activities, absolute verification is next to impossible. Even so, many countries believed that it would be possible to devise a system of declarations and inspections to increase the transparency of treaty-relevant facilities and activities, thereby increasing confidence in BWC compliance. In an effort to establish such a system, BWC member-states created an "Ad Hoc Group" in September 1994 to negotiate a compliance regime for the BWC.
In March 2001, after six years of negotiations, the Ad Hoc Group chairman proposed a draft BWC Protocol that attempted to finesse many of the outstanding issues. In July 2001, however, the United States rejected the draft Protocol as both ineffective and harmful to U.S. interests, bringing the Ad Hoc Group negotiations to a halt. In September 2002, the United States said it would oppose any further discussions on amending the BWC until 2006.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, agents. Copyright 2003 by MIIS.