Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

2018/11/20

Establishment

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) opened for signature on 10 April 1972 and entered into force on 26 March 1975.
Japan signed it on 10 April 1972 and ratified it on 8 June 1982.

States Parties

The Biological Weapons Convention currently has 183 States Parties (December 2019).

Content

The BWC comprehensively prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition and retention of biological and toxin weapons, and at the same time requires all states parties to destroy their stockpiles of biological weapons.
However, unlike the Convention on Chemical Weapons (CWC), the BWC does not contain a verification mechanism for monitoring compliance with the Convention by the states parties.
In order to ensure that states parties are complying with the Convention’s provisions and achieving its objectives, a Review Conference is convened every five years to review the operation of the BWC.

The BWC contains a preamble, 15 articles, and annexes. The main provisions are as follows:
Article I: To never under any circumstances develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain biological weapons;
Article II: To destroy or divert to peaceful purposes biological weapons and associated resources prior to joining;
Article III: Not to transfer, or in any way assist, encourage, or induce anyone else to acquire or retain biological weapons;
Article IV: To take any national measures necessary to implement the provisions of the BWC domestically;
Article V: To consult bilaterally and multilaterally to solve any problems with the implementation of the BWC;
Article VI: To request the UN Security Council to investigate alleged breaches of the BWC and to comply with its subsequent decisions;
Article X: To do all of the above in a way that encourages the peaceful uses of biological science and technology.