This series, launched in 2003, replaced the former VERTIC Briefing Papers. VERTIC Briefs are published on an ad hoc basis, on subjects of immediate interest. They are often produced for, and distributed at, major international conferences. To order a print copy of a VERTIC Brief, please contact

The BWC Ninth Review Conference: an overview of outcomes, outlooks and national implementation

Suzanna Khoshabi with external contributions
Brief No. 35, March 2023

Following the conclusion of the Biological Weapons Convention’s Ninth Review Conference in December 2022, this Brief analyses the outcomes and outlook of the Review Conference and takes stock of the progress, challenges, and ways forward for national implementation.

Judicial Enforcement of BWC and CWC implementing legislation

Thomas Brown
Brief No. 34, February 2022

Since 2012 VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures (NIM) Programme has researched and published our analysis of BWC and CWC related court cases. Case law analyses can help to identify best practices for creating or improving legislative frameworks to control biological agents, toxins, toxic chemicals and their precursors, and related materials. Cases show in vivid detail how the law applied in practice can be used to ensure accountability and how enforcement measures can help to secure prosecutions for relevant crimes. Further, court cases can demonstrate gaps in legislation and highlight legislative errors, leading to legislative amendments in the future.

This Brief details three court cases, from the US, Germany and the UK and identifies a number of overarching lessons that can be learned from them. The Brief then provides a number of recommendations for stakeholders to enhance the drafting and adoption of national legislation to implement the BWC and the CWC.

Encouraging Education in the Field of Nuclear Disarmament Verification

Elena Gai
Brief No. 33, June 2021

This Brief has been produced by VERTIC within the framework of the project ‘Building Capacity on Multilateral Verification of Nuclear Disarmament’, funded by the Norwegian Government. The project supports the development and strengthening of practical and effective nuclear disarmament verification (NDV) measures for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.

‘Encouraging Education in the field of Nuclear Disarmament Verification’ focuses on the role of education and capacity-building in the field in ensuring development of effective policy and technical tools, generational knowledge transfer and the establishment of a new cohort of young and motivated experts.

The Brief reviews recent UN Resolutions in this realm, reports on former and current international governmental efforts towards NDV, and analyses the current status of NDV education, research, and international initiatives. The Brief also addresses the possibility of establishing an international NDV network of universities, governmental and non-governmental research and technical institutes and other stakeholders. The Brief finally argues how such a network could be useful in providing further support to the work of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament and, should it be established, a Group of Scientific and Technical Experts (GSTE).

The OPCW’s role in chemical security: approaches and lessons learned from the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Plans to support OPCW chemical security efforts

Alberto Muti
Brief No. 32, June 2019

In 2018, VERTIC carried out a project on the OPCW’s role and initiatives in supporting chemical security and preventing non-state actors from employing chemical weapons. The project looked at approaches and lessons learned from the IAEA experience in improving the global nuclear security regime.

The Brief outlines some of the key OPCW goals in terms of chemical security activities. Then, it examines the general institutional framework for nuclear security within the IAEA and its evolution over time, as well as providing additional detail on some specific IAEA initiatives of interest. The Brief ends by providing recommendations on how some IAEA approaches could be translated to the context of the OPCW.

This Brief forms a pair with VERTIC Brief 31 ‘Securing a diverse global industry: Key lessons from the field of radiological security to support OPCW chemical security efforts’. Both Briefs were previewed as working papers during a side event to the Fourth Review Conference to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2018, and have been finalised and published by VERTIC in 2019.

Securing a diverse global industry: Key lessons from the field of radiological security to support OPCW chemical security efforts

Chris Englefield, PhD, and Alberto Muti
Brief No. 31, June 2019

In 2018, VERTIC carried out a project on the OPCW’s role and initiatives in supporting chemical security and preventing non-state actors from employing chemical weapons. The project looked at approaches and lessons learned from the IAEA experience in improving the global nuclear security regime.

This Brief provides an overview of key principles from the field of radiological sources security, and discusses how they could be adapted to improve the security of the chemical industry, and especially of chemical substances in non-sensitive or less-sensitive commercial and industrial context, such as non-scheduled and Schedule 3 chemicals.

This Brief forms a pair with VERTIC Brief 32 ‘The OPCW’s role in chemical security: approaches and lessons learned from the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Plans’. Both Briefs were previewed as working papers during a side event to the Fourth Review Conference to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2018, and have been finalised and published by VERTIC in 2019.

Information-sharing in nuclear security: current initiatives, challenges, and the proposal for a Consolidated National Nuclear Security Report

Alberto Muti
Brief No. 30, January 2018

While reporting and information sharing on nuclear security have only played a limited role in the nuclear security field so far, they could significantly contribute to further reinforcing nuclear security worldwide. Key obstacles to increased information-sharing identified include state-level national security concerns as well as the plurality of policy initiatives, international bodies, and legal instruments both binding and voluntary in nature. The paper analyses some of the current proposals to strengthen reporting in nuclear security and in particular, the Consolidated National Nuclear Security Report (CNNSR), first offered as a gift basket by the Netherlands and a coalition of like-minded countries at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

Brexit’s Nuclear Fallout: Approaching the Cliff’s Edge?

Matt Korda
Brief No. 29, August 2017
This brief outlines the critical issues facing the UK’s nuclear industry in light of Brexatom, the UK government’s decision to exit Euratom along with the European Union. First, it examines Brexatom’s potential implications for nuclear trade, research, construction, waste, and healthcare. Second, it clarifies the different types of deals which the UK government will need to negotiate before Brexatom takes effect. Third, it considers whether Brexatom is even necessary, emphasising that the decision is a matter of legal interpretation. Finally, it concludes with an analysis of the UK government’s options moving forward, relative to the EU’s strong negotiating position.

Port State Measures Agreement: Tackling IUU fishing through inspections

Simeon Dukic and Matteo Zerini
Brief No. 28, June 2017

Combating and eradicating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is necessary to achieve the sustainable use of marine capture fisheries. UN member states have pledged to do so by 2020, as part of their commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Over the past 25 years, port state measures have evolved and have received increasing attention as one of the many tools to tackle unlawful behaviour at sea. The inspection regime set up by the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) is another step in the direction of attaining the sustainable use of fish stocks. This paper examines the features of the inspection mechanism set forth by the treaty and explores the way forward to ensure that the agreement successfully contributes to the prevention of IUU fishing.

Defining a Group of Scientific Experts for Disarmament Verification

Verification and Monitoring Programme
Brief No. 27, May 2017

Effective nuclear disarmament verification is an essential precondition for achieving ‘a world without nuclear weapons’. Without verification and the two fundamental principles of transparency and irreversibility, nuclear disarmament activities may not credibly provide the trust and confidence needed by all states in a world where all weapons have been abolished. This point has repeatedly been emphasised in many international forums including recently in Resolution 71/67 adopted on 14 December 2016 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The resolution, with 175 states voting in favour and none against, mandates the UN Secretary-General to establish a group of governmental experts (GGE) to consider the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament.

This paper reports on two workshops discussing the concept of a Group of Scientific Experts on Nuclear Disarmament, with a view to formulating a recommendation to the GGE.

Guide for REDD-plus negotiators: an updated version of the FIELD Guide for REDD-plus negotiators

Joy Hyvarinen
Brief no. 26, March 2016

This brief provides a guide for developing country negotiators and others with a simple and neutral overview of the various negotiations and decisions related to REDD-plus. Separated into four parts, the brief gives an explanation of key terms and concepts related to REDD-plus; an introduction to REDD-plus that summarises its relationship with land use, land-use change and forestry under the Kyoto Protocol; an overview of developments related to REDD-plus at UNFCCC meetings since 2007; and a set of general negotiation tips for new REDD-plus negotiators.

2015 climate change agreement: strengthening future emission reductions and treaty review and monitoring processes

Joy Hyvarinen
Brief no. 25, August 2015

This brief considers the implications for climate review and monitoring processes as states edge closer to the 2015 Paris climate change conference, where a new treaty is expected to be agreed. It focuses on how states’ Nationally Determined Contributions will be reviewed and the mechanism for strengthening such contributions in the future.

Monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Joy Hyvarinen and Larry MacFaul
Brief no. 24, June 2015

The Sustainable Development Goals are expected to form the centrepiece of the UN post-2015 development agenda. This brief compares the Sustainable Development Goals to the previous Millennium Development goals, and provides a forecast for negotiations regarding their adoption.

Above and beyond: IAEA verification in Iran

Hugh Chalmers and Andreas Persbo
Brief no. 23, April 2015

The Iranian issue has seen a number of significant recent moves forward. The April 2015 Iran-EU statement on the parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action gives insight into what a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme may look like. There are still many details left unresolved or uncommunicated to the outside world. What is clear is that stringent verification arrangements—in some cases going above and beyond those in the present International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system—will be critical for the deal to be accepted on both sides of the Atlantic and by the international community as a whole.

Chemical weapons detection: inspecting Syria

David Cliff, Russell Moul and Ariane Jugieux
Brief no. 22, August 2013

In this brief, David Cliff, Russell Moul and Ariane Jugieux consider the legal and technical aspects of the detection of chemical weapons use—both in the immediate and later stages after an alleged attack. The brief looks at the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons’ (as being put into practice in Syria at the time of publication) and also at the various technical tools available to investigators and first-responders.

The IAEA safeguards function

John Carlson and Andreas Persbo
Brief no. 21, August 2013

In the brief, John Carlson and Andreas Persbo discuss the proper function of IAEA safeguards. The briefing paper emphasizes the safeguards systems role in ‘preventing’ the use of nuclear material for proscribed purposes, and goes through what this means for the authority to investigate apparent nuclear weaponization activities, the standard of proof, and the Agency’s responsibility to provide early warning. It concludes that ‘safeguards are not an adversarial system, a zero sum game where either the state or the IAEA ‘wins’ and the other loses. Rather, for the overwhelming majority of states that have made a non-proliferation commitment, cooperation with the IAEA helps the state to demonstrate that it is meeting this commitment.’

Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle: a technical outline

David Cliff with David Keir
Brief no. 20, May 2013

In this brief, David Cliff and David Keir present a technical outline of the Iranian nuclear fuel cycle, drawing primarily on the quarterly reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The aim of the brief is to provide an overview of what is known about Iran’s fuel cycle and how the various parts of it link together, while also commenting on the nature and extent of IAEA safeguards coverage in the country.

Nuclear disarmament verification: the case for multilateralism

David Cliff, Hassan Elbahtimy, David Keir and Andreas Persbo
Brief no. 19, April 2013

In this brief, the case for multilateral involvement in nuclear disarmament verification is discussed, with reference to VERTIC’s ongoing capacity-building effort with non-nuclear-weapon states and intergovernmental organisations. This project has been running since 2011, with the objective of consolidating a role for the IAEA in disarmament verification, as well as reviewing the requirements of verification technology.

Challenging times for sustainable fisheries

David J. Doulman
Brief no. 18, July 2012

This paper provides a review of action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, focusing largely on national initiatives. It considers the assessment, monitoring and verification of IUU fishing, reviews the role of regional cooperation and action, and considers the issue of sanctions and other penalties designed to deter IUU practices. The brief argues that monitoring, assessing and verifying IUU fishing is not an easy task, especially in the face of the high financial stakes that encourage and facilitate such activities.

Multilateral verification: Exploring new ideas

David Cliff and David Keir
Brief no. 17, January 2012

This paper, by David Cliff and David Keir, outlines new thinking in the realm of multilateral disarmament verification and considers the arguments for incorporating multilateralism into future verified disarmament processes.

The CTBT: Verification and Deterrence

John R. Walker
Brief no. 16, October 2011

This brief looks at the capabilities of the CTBT’s verification regime and the role of that regime in deterring clandestine nuclear testing. Dr Walker argues that in the context of CTBT verification, ‘negotiators designed an integrated system that will clearly complicate the plans of any state thinking that it could evade that system and derive a meaningful political, military or strategic advantage from doing so.’ He writes that the treaty’s verification ‘presents a formidable set of obstacles for a would-be violator to surmount.’ That in turn, Dr Walker argues, plays an important role in deterring parties from attempting to evade the treaty in the first place.

Verifying multilateral regimes: uncertain futures

Yasemin Balci
Brief no. 15, August 2011

This brief summarizes the discussions and conclusions of participants attending VERTIC’s recently-held 25-year anniversary conference. The meeting, ‘Uncertain futures: where next for multilateral verification?’, discussed the operation and future direction of multilateral verification regimes. It was hosted by Wilton Park in Steyning, West Sussex, from 1-3 June 2011.

Chemical and biological weapons use in the Rome Statute: a case for change

Kara Allen with Scott Spence and Rocío Escauriaza Leal
Brief no. 14, February 2011

The Rome Statute is intended to encompass ‘the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.’ International law, custom, and jurisprudence show that the use of chemical and biological weapons falls within this category. However, the treaty does not contain a clear ban on the use of either type of weapon.

Perspectives on the 2010 IAEA General Conference

Arms Control and Disarmament Programme
Brief no. 13, December 2010

In September 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency held its 54th General Conference. This paper summarizes diplomatic manouvering at the Conference, and assesses its impact on future conferences.

Verification implications of the 2010 NPT Review

David Cliff with Hugh Chalmers and Sonia Drobysz
Brief no. 12, December 2010

Five years after the seventh review conference of parties to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended
in acrimony, the eighth conference, held 3-28 May 2010, finished with some success. After four weeks of intensive debate, the conference adopted a final document containing 64 specific follow-on ‘actions’. This briefing paper seeks to extract and highlight the most significant verification relevant parts of the final document.

Towards a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East

Sameh Aboul-Enein and Hassan ElBahtimy
Brief no. 11, May 2010

The 2000 NPT review conference reaffirmed the importance of the
1995 Middle East Resolution to the indefinite extension of the NPT and encouraged the states of the region to pursue vigorously a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in their region. This paper examines some verification and implementation options available to the 2010 NPT review conference.

Putting the CTBT into Practice

Malcolm Coxhead and David Jepsen
Brief no. 10, December 2009

This Brief examines the practical application of the various elements of the CTBT verification regime, their interplay, and suggests a model for technical interaction among States Parties to facilitate verification.

Report on VERTIC’s Technical Coordination Meeting: For legislative assistance facilitators and providers in the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons fields

Brief no. 9, March 2009

This Brief contains some of the ideas, themes and conclusions that emerged during the Technical Coordination Meeting for legislative and technical assistance facilitators and providers, hosted by VERTIC on 29 January 2008. The meeting aimed to discuss approaches to developing the capacity of states, to hear experiences of providing assistance, to discover lessons learned, and finally, to consider ways in which facilitators and providers could liaise or collaborate with each other in the future to achieve the overall objective of a safer, more secure world.

News from Open Skies: A co-operative treaty maintaining military transparency

Hartwig Spitzer
Brief no. 8, March 2009

This Brief outlines the main provisions of the Treaty on Open Skies and discusses the interest of the original and new States Parties in the agreement. It focuses primarily, though, on events since 2005: the first Review Conference, preparations for use of additional sensor categories, the flight allocation for 2008, and the outcome of treaty implementation—that is, support for monitoring of arms control treaties and military transparency in a co-operative setting.

On-site inspections for the CTBT: long-running discussions achieve progress

Malcolm Coxhead
Brief no. 7, July 2008

This Brief examines explores the elaboration of inspection procedures for the on-site inspections (OSI) mechanism of CTBT. In particular the author gives an overview of the elaboration process of the Operational Manual and the difficulties encountered for reaching consensus on key issues. The paper also highlights the forthcoming major inspection exercise which is due to take place from in Vienna, Austria and in Kazakhstan, from the 25 August to 30 September 2008.

Adoption of procedures and mechanisms relating to compliance under the Kyoto Protocol: a guide

Larry MacFaul
Brief no. 6, November 2005

This Brief examines the implications, both practical and legal, of the options for adoption of the procedures and mechanisms relating to compliance under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The options are by COP/MOP decision, amendment to the protocol or by some other approach. It is possible that the options can be combined.

Larry MacFaul argues that the most judicious way forward is for the procedures and mechanisms to be adopted by COP/MOP decision at COP/MOP 1. A process for adoption by amendment may also be initiated but the potential consequences of this course of action, as outlined in this paper, will need to be carefully evaluated. Consideration should also be given to the possibility of including this issue in the negotiations on the post-2012 regime. Adoption could be included in a legal instrument or amendment which establishes commitments for the post-2012 regime. Again this should be additional to adoption by COP/MOP decision at COP/MOP1.

Kyoto Protocol national systems and registries: countdown to 2008

Larry MacFaul
Brief no. 5, December 2004

Larry MacFaul examines the compliance and eligibility requirements facing parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change in the run-up to its first commitment period (2008-2012). These requirements relate to the estimation and reporting of emissions. The development of national systems for emissions estimation and registries for accounting parties’ emissions tading units provide the basis for meeting these requirements. To establish their systems and registries states need significant capacity and resources. So far, parties have made consider progress in developing them. However, to meet the eligibility requirements and be deemed in compliance there is much to do and only a short while to do it before the Kyoto Protocol deadlines take effect.

Biological weapons: minding the verification gap

Trevor Findlay
Brief no. 4, Febuary 2004

The BWC is the cornerstone of international efforts to control the development and proliferation of biological and toxin weapons. VERTIC Brief no. 4 explores the strengths and weaknesses of the BWC, focussing on attempts to improve its ineffective verification and compliance system. The paper considers the political context of the failure to negotiate a verification protocol establishing an international Organization for the Prohibition of Biological Weapons (OPBW). It also examines progress on the minimalist work programme agreed by the resumed session of the Fifth BWC Review Conference in 2002.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: virtually verifiable now

Ben Mines
Brief no. 3, April 2004
Ben Mines provides a progress report on the establishment of the verification regime for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banning nuclear tests in all environments. The paper reveals the steady development of a system which promises significantly greater verifiability than that envisaged by its designers. Dr Mines argues that full implementation of all aspects of the verification system should be pursued, even without entry into force of the treaty, in order to help refute claims that the treaty is unverifiable and to signal to treaty hold-outs that its supporters are intent on seeing its promise realised.

93+10: strengthened nuclear safeguards a decade on

Kenneth Boutin
Brief no. 2, April 2004

The Brief considers the progress made in strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards ten years after the so-called 93+2 programme was launched in 1993 following the discovery of Iraq’s clandestine attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. It analyses steps taken by the IAEA itself under its existing legal authority and the status of attempts to have all States adopt Additional Protocols to give the Agency wider powers of information-gathering and inspection. The paper also assesses the challenges facing the Agency in rationalising the old and new safeguards regimes through what it calls ‘integrated safeguards’. The Brief concludes with some recommendations on how nuclear safeguards might be further strengthened.

Verification of a nuclear weapon-free world

Trevor Findlay
Brief no. 1, May 2003

In this first VERTIC Brief, Trevor Findlay considers the requirements for verifying complete nuclear disarmament. He describes the verification tasks that will need to be accomplished while ‘getting to zero’, including those related to nuclear weapons, nuclear research and development and manufacturing capabilities, nuclear-capable delivery systems and fissionable material. The Brief also considers the institutional components of the verification and compliance regime that are likely to be required, ranging from a substantial technical secretariat to a strengthened United Nations Security Council. Special attention is paid to the ‘breakout’ problem—the sudden re-emergence of a nuclear weapon state in a denuclearised world—and the possible responses. Finally, the paper considers what it terms the ‘necessary precursors’ for building an effective verification system for a nuclear weapon-free world, all of which exist in embryonic form at present but which must be greatly developed and enhanced if ‘getting to zero’ is to succeed.