Significant technical knowledge and expertise for the effective development and enforcement of WMD-related legislation resides in civil society, such as industry stakeholders, academics and NGO experts. For countries with small administrations, a significant proportion of the nation’s expertise in this field may be located outside government. States commonly consult with non-governmental stakeholders when developing legislation in other issue areas, but how common is this in the international security field?Read More
The case of Ms Bond, a woman convicted in the United States under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Implementation Act for putting highly toxic chemicals on the car door handles, doorknob and mailbox of a former friend, will be considered by the US Supreme Court again. Due to its focus on the balance of power in a federalist system, this case is particular to the US domestic legal order. However, as the Court will address the application of the CWC Implementation Act to Ms Bond’s criminal acts, it is also of interest to other CWC States Parties that have adopted or are in the process of adopting implementing legislation for the CWC.Read More
Scott Spence, VERTIC’s Senior Legal Officer, attended the ‘UNSCR 1540 Civil Society Forum - Opportunities for Engagement’, which took place in the Vienna International Centre (the VIC) during 8-10 January. He reflects on this important event in this week’s blog post.
During the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) over a week ago, States Parties took note of the latest figures compiled by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on national implementation of the Convention. Under Article VII of the CWC, States Parties are required to adopt national implementation measures to fulfill their obligations under the Convention in accordance with their constitutional processes (paragraph 1). States Parties are also required to inform the OPCW of the legislative measures they have taken (paragraph 5). In this way, the OPCW is able to gather data on the number of States Parties that have adopted national implementation measures and assess the comprehensiveness of the measures they have taken.Read More
On 29 November, a number of civil society actors participated in an invitation-only meeting with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and with staff from the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), including the Director-General. We discussed how civil society actors such as VERTIC can contribute to the Organization’s efforts to strengthen the Convention and its operation. Scott Spence, Senior Legal Officer, took the opportunity to share some thoughts on how, in particular, we can work with the OPCW to promote universality and national implementation of the CWC.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties will convene in Geneva in one month’s time. Amongst other items, the meeting will discuss “Strengthening national implementation”, which is a standing item for each meeting in the 2012-15 intersessional period. What is the current status of BWC States Parties’ national implementation, at least in terms of their national regulatory frameworks? Let me take you through some interesting statistics drawn from VERTIC’s BW legislation surveys.
On 28 July 2012 the Ugandan government and the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the Ebola virus was the culprit behind a spate of deaths in Kibaale district, Western Uganda.Read More
The ongoing unrest in Syria has continued to dominate the headlines as concerns have mounted about the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles. At the same time, these stockpiles raise interesting questions of international law.
The Meeting of Experts (MX) for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) took place in Geneva from 16 to 20 July. Ambassador Boujemâa Delmi of Algeria chaired the meeting, which focused on the topics Agreed upon at the Seventh BWC Review Conference in December 2011: recent advances in the life sciences and mechanisms to address the emerging threats they pose, effective ways to further the goals of the BWC through greater cooperation and assistance, enhanced national implementation, and renewed confidence-building measures (CBMs). Experts from states parties, international organisations, observer entities and non-governmental organizations gathered in Geneva to participate in the MX.Read More
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of Experts will convene next week in Geneva. National implementation is on the agenda, as a standing item for this inter-sessional process, and VERTIC will give a presentation on this topic as an invited Guest of the meeting. As a recent outbreak of kiwifruit vine disease in New Zealand has shown, national implementation of biosecurity measures is an ongoing task, which is worthy of such regular consideration by the BWC regime.Read More
Last month, the case United States v Bond reached its final stage. Following a decision last year by the US Supreme Court which allowed Ms Carol Anne Bond to challenge her conviction under the ‘Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Implementation Act of 1998’, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has now reviewed her case and upheld her conviction.Read More
Inadequate biological waste management constitutes a risk that could lead to proliferation of infectious material and accidental outbreaks. International instruments exist to counter these dangers: the Basel Convention aims to limit and regulate hazardous wastes to minimize possible impacts on human and animal health as well as the environment. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) necessitates the adoption of biosecurity measures – including biological waste management – to prevent proliferation of dual use material. The adoption by countries of effective measures to securely manage biological waste would help implementation of both international agreements and make progress towards the aims they promote.Read More
Historical documents pertaining to the 1925 Geneva Protocol are now available online through the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ treaty database. Scanned copies of original instruments of accession, ratification and succession, along with documents relating to reservations, are now a mouse-click away. It is important to have access to these original documents, rather than the potted, translated summaries of their contents that were previously available, to determine the precise legal status of the Protocol’s prohibitions on the use of biological and chemical weapons with respect to each State.Read More
Next week, VERTIC will give three presentations at the NPT PrepCom at two different meetings – rolling out or highlighting several new and exciting projects. Here in London, there will be changes to the way this blog is administered. We will strive to keep you updated with new online content every Thursday, as customary. However, our organization’s permanent staff will from now on share the editorial responsibility for the content.Read More
The debate continues on whether to publish scientific research that details how avian flu, a highly deadly virus for both birds and humans, can be made transmissible between mammals. In a previous post, it was mentioned that publishing this research in a redacted fashion and sharing it with a select group of researchers can be supported under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). While a World Health Organization meeting in February called for full publication of the study, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade has now pointed out that the researchers, who are based in the Netherlands, have to request an export permit. How is export control law related to the publication of this research?Read More
Scientists in the Netherlands and the United States may have changed avian flu into a superflu virus. With a human mortality rate of 60%, avian flu was already a highly dangerous disease. But the new version is also highly contagious, potentially spreading from human to human as easily as the seasonal flu. Although the scientists were eager to publish their results, security experts doubted whether the findings should be disclosed, stating that publication of the study could serve as a recipe for biological weapons. What does the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) say on the silencing or sharing of scientific developments?Read More
Following the conclusion of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), it is clear there has been no significant progress towards formally verifying compliance to the convention. Considering the impact of what little progress that was made at the conference, and what steps can be taken to improve confidence in the convention, is therefore all the more important.Read More
Paul van den IJssel, President-designate of the Seventh Review Conference for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), was quoted last week as saying that he is pleased that the BWC does not receive as much attention as other treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As Robert Kadlec, the biosecurity adviser under former President George W. Bush noted, the community has ‘had no Prague speech ... [or] biological summit on this issue.’Read More
Kara Allen, a former VERTIC intern and Virginia Law graduate writes on amendment of the Rome Statute to explicitly include chemical and biological weapons use as war crimes.Read More
The NIM Team has added the Holy See's new counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation to the BWC Legislation Database.Read More
The NIM team - Angela, Scott, Rocio, Samir and Yasemin - hosted a side event at the BWC MSP.Read More