BWC implementing legislation – let’s look at the statistics

Nov 08 2012
VERTIC Blog >> National Implementation Measures

Angela Woodward, Christchurch

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.

VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures (NIM) Programme has so far completed surveys of BWC implementing legislation in 115 of the 165 BWC States Parties. We’ve also completed biological weapons- (BW) related legislation surveys for a further 26 States, addressing obligations derived from the BWC and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 (2004).

The breakdown of completed surveys for BWC States Parties by UN geographic group is:
• African States - 31 (of 37 BWC States Parties);
• Asian States - 33 (of 46 BWC States Parties);
• Eastern European States - 15 (of 23 BWC States Parties);
• Latin America and Caribbean States - 29 (of 31 BWC States Parties); and
• Western Europe and Other States - 7 (of 27 BWC States Parties).

Given that we prepare BW-related surveys of BWC States Parties and non-States Parties alike, we depict our analysis by UN geographic group rather than by the BWC regional groups in Geneva (Eastern European Group, Group of the Non-Aligned Movement and Other States, and the Western Group).

We prepared the legislation surveys using a template addressing 96 criteria derived from the BWC as well as UNSCR 1540 (2004), as the latter international legal instrument also contains obligations requiring national regulation concerning biological weapons and is binding on all States. When we locate primary or secondary legislation that addresses a criterion in the survey, we copy the text into the survey template. The presence and absence of such text helps to inform States’ own reviews of their BWC implementing measures and, depending on their respective national circumstances and legal and constitutional requirements, to highlight which areas require strengthening through additional measures. We only provide these surveys to officials of the respective State.

The surveys are divided into eight sections:
• A: Definitions;
• B: Offences and penalties
• C: Preparations to commit offences specified in section B/alternate criminal liability;
• D: Jurisdiction over offences specified in sections B and C;
• E: Preventative measures: control lists;
• F: Preventive measures to account for, secure and physically protect dangerous biological agents and toxins;
• G: Preventative measures to control transfers of dangerous biological agents and toxins; and
• H: Enforcement (investigations, prosecutions etc.).

And now for the statistics. Let’s take survey section B, on offences and penalties. In this category, we look for legislation which prohibits and penalizes the development, manufacture, production, acquisition, stockpiling, possession, transfer, transport and use (etc.) of biological weapons, all of which are mandated by Article I of the BWC and Operative Paragraph 2 of UNSCR 1540.

Of the 31 African BWC States Parties surveyed, 18 had some measures addressing the core prohibitions. Of these 18 States, four had measures prohibiting BW development; five on manufacture/production; three on transfer or transport; and four on BW use. Of the 15 criteria in this section, seven States had measures addressing at least four of them.

Of the 33 Asian BWC States Parties surveyed, 27 had some measures addressing the core prohibitions. Of these 27 States, five had measures prohibiting BW development; 11 on manufacture/production; 12 on transfer or transport; and nine on BW use. Of the 15 criteria in this section, 16 States had measures addressing at least four of them.

Of the 15 Eastern European States Parties surveyed, all had some measures addressing the core prohibitions. Of these 15 States, nine had measures prohibiting BW development; 14 on manufacture/production; 15 transfer or transport; and 12 on BW use. Of the 15 criteria in this section, all 15 States had measures addressing at least four of them.

Of the 29 Latin America and Caribbean States surveyed, 27 had some measures addressing the core prohibitions. Of these 27 States, six had measures prohibiting BW development; 11 on manufacture/production; 12 on transfer or transport; and 12 on BW use. Of the 15 criteria in this section, 20 States had measures addressing at least four of them.

Of the 7 Western Europe and Other States surveyed, all had some measures addressing the core prohibitions. Of these seven States, six had measures prohibiting BW development; six on manufacture/production; five on transfer or transport; and three on BW use. Of the 15 criteria in this section, all seven States had measures addressing at least four of them.

By simply indicating the presence or absence of legislation in each of these survey cells, these statistics merely show the quantitative status of BWC implementing legislation. A qualitative analysis of VERTIC’s surveys (including review of the legislative texts) would provide a more nuanced analysis of the effectiveness of existing measures, where these even exist, although we only hold that discussion with the respective State. VERTIC will provide a full breakdown of statistics across all sections in our legislation survey, anonymized by geographic grouping, at the BWC Meeting of States Parties.

What this analysis of a mere sample of our statistics shows, is that States Parties have a lot to discuss under the “Strengthening national implementation” agenda item in the 2012-15 intersessional process. VERTIC’s NIM Programme will continue preparing and updating BW-related legislation surveys to assist States to review their measures and identify which areas of their national implementation require strengthening and, on request, will provide drafting assistance for the development of national action plans and new legal measures.

VERTIC NIM Programme staff will be available to discuss legislative development at the BWC Meeting of States Parties, being held 10-14 December 2012 in Geneva.

 

Last changed: Nov 08 2012 at 4:45 PM

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