Convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction


The Convention you are referring to is commonly known as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). It is an international treaty that prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. The convention also mandates the destruction of existing stockpiles of such weapons.

The BWC was opened for signature in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It currently has 183 states parties, making it one of the most widely supported disarmament agreements. The objective of the convention is to prevent the use of biological agents and toxins as weapons, which can cause widespread harm to humans, animals, and plants.

Under the BWC, member states commit to several obligations:

  1. Prohibition: States parties undertake never to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, or retain biological and toxin weapons.
  2. Destruction: States parties that possess such weapons commit to destroy them and any facilities used for their production.
  3. Prevention of Spread: States parties agree to prevent the transfer of biological agents or toxins to any recipient that is not a party to the convention and to prohibit assistance in any activity prohibited by the convention.
  4. Cooperation and Assistance: States parties commit to providing assistance and cooperation, including in the fields of public health, agriculture, and emergency response, to prevent and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases and potential bioweapon threats.
  5. Confidence-Building Measures: States parties are encouraged to exchange information on their activities related to biological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes, such as research and public health measures.

The BWC does not have a formal verification mechanism or an organization dedicated solely to its implementation. However, states parties meet periodically in review conferences to discuss compliance and further strengthen the convention’s provisions.

It’s important to note that while the BWC prohibits biological weapons, it does not address the development or use of non-lethal biological agents for legitimate purposes, such as medical research, disease control, or vaccine production.

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