Twenty-first century perspectives on the Biological Weapon Convention: Continued relevance or toothless paper tiger

By Glenn Cross, Lynn Klotz | July 20, 2020

Representatives to the Biological Weapons Convention meet. Representatives to the Biological Weapons Convention, the international treaty banning bioweapons activity, meet in 2015. Credit: Eric Bridiers/US Mission Geneva. CC BY-ND 2.0.

While the secretary-general of the United Nations has questioned whether the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a gap in global defenses against bioterrorism that a nefarious group may seek to exploit, the reality is that the pandemic has only underscored the folly of biological warfare, a strategy which relies on weapons – viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens – that would indiscriminately wreak havoc on the attacked and the attacker alike. Indeed, most countries in the world are part of the Biological Weapons Convention, the international treaty that – while lacking an enforcement mechanism – has successfully bolstered the near universal norms against the use of biological weapons.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows, nuclear threats are real, present, and dangerous

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