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BWC Legislation Database

The Database

The BWC legislation database was launched in April 2002 as a result of VERTIC’s first survey of the status of states’ legislation to implement the BWC. It contains a selection of laws that states use to implement their obligations under the BWC. The database was substantially expanded in late 2010 with over 1500 additional laws and regulations located through open sources by NIM Programme staff. It is updated on a regular basis as new surveys are completed.

Implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention

By becoming a State Party to the BWC, states undertake never to develop, produce stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain any biological weapons. Once your state has become party to the Convention, it will be bound by the content of the BWC, and obliged to implement its requirements. In particular, Article IV obliges each State Party, in accordance with its constitutional processes, to take any necessary measures to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of biological weapons in its territory and anywhere under its jurisdiction or control.

Article III requires all States Parties to refrain from transferring biological weapons to anyone and from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to manufacture or acquire them. In addition, Article X enshrines the rights for State Parties to participate in the exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes. This provision also ensures that the Convention is implemented in a manner which avoids hampering economic or technological development or international cooperation in this field.

VERTIC is in a position to assist states with national legislation to implement the BWC, at no cost, under our National Implementation Measures (NIM) Programme.

What types of legislation should a State consider?

In order to give effect to the BWC, states should adopt penal measures criminalising the development, production, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, transfer and use of biological weapons. Preparatory measures to carry out such activities, including assistance, encouragement, or inducement, should also be penalised.

States should adopt biosafety and biosecurity measures, such as measures to account for and secure production, use, storage and transport of particularly dangerous pathogens or activities involving humans, plants or animals where infection may pose a risk; related licensing procedures; safety and security measures for laboratories; containment measures; and genetic engineering regulations.

Import and export controls should be adopted. Import and export licenses should be required for items on the control lists, and measures should be in place ensuring general oversight over transfers. An official body should be designated to effectively enforce these measures.

Enforcement measures should be adopted to facilitate ongoing monitoring of life sciences activities and compliance with the Convention, and to prosecute and punish offenders. Finally, other measures may be necessary to facilitate domestic and international cooperation and assistance.

The database contains examples of legislation covering criminal provisions, biosafety and biosecurity measures, export control measures and enforcement. Some laws or regulations in our database may not have any direct relation to the BWC, however, and the NIM Programme does not endorse that legislation in this collection adequately enforces the BWC.

Contact the NIM Programme

If you have any additional entries or believe that some of the legislation is inaccurate or no longer in force, please contact VERTIC’s NIM Programme. Legislation surveys can also be provided to state authorities upon written request.


While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of all material reproduced in the database, the NIM Programme does not guarantee that it is free from error or omission. Any errors in an official version have been reproduced for authenticity. We encourage your comments on any errors or omissions and welcome the submission of additional legislative texts.

Every effort has been made to ensure that legislation in the database is the official version published by states in their national gazettes. However, only the copy officially published by the state concerned is deemed authentic.

For some legislation officially published in a language other than English, original versions and in some cases a translation have been provided. All such translations are unofficial, unless stated otherwise.