Bio Weapons Convention, 1972


Biological and Toxic weapons


Biological weapons are a very complex systems that produce toxins or diseases which are injurious or fatal to humans, plants & animals.. The Bio-weapons comprise of two parts, i.e, - a weaponized aged, i.e, the toxin and a delivery system. The bio-weapons once used in a particular area, can cause a huge loss, for example it may cause infection among a large proportion of animals, plant and crops causing food shortage and economic losses, such weapons have no limit of spreading its effects and can spread in a very large scale. The effect of nuclear weapon use can last up to a very long period of time, it may lead to widespread of disease, illness etc. Bio-weapons may contain organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi etc. or organic or synthetic toxins such as poisons which may be harmful for the humans and flora and fauna. As the bio-weapon attack is like that of a disease of epidemic, its effects may be different in different environment conditions. The effect of bio-weapons may also differ in different regions.

The Biological Weapons Convention, 1972

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the development, production and stockpiling of all types of weapons of mass destruction, the treaty was open to be signed by the signatories on 10 April 1972 and it came into force on 26 March 1975.

Provisions of the Treaty

The treaty comprises of 15 Articles, the Article 1 of the treaty states that all the signatory states shall never in any circumstances develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain any microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes and neither any weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict. The other articles bind the states to destroy such weapons and to prohibit any kind of transfer of such weapons. The convention casts a duty upon all the members to make laws within their jurisdiction for fulfilling the intention of the convention and that the states shall co-operate with other states and provide assistance for combating against bio-weapons. Article 6 empowers the UNSC to take complaints and investigate into matters relating to bio-weapons by any of the country. Any kind of exchange of equipment, materials, scientific and technological information relating to the biological agents for peaceful purposes should be brought to the knowledge to all other states. The time limit of this convention shall be unlimited and shall be open to be signed by any country.

India’s response

India has ratified to the convention in the year 1974 and pledges to abide by the convention. India possesses defensive biological warfare, such as ballistic missiles and the Indian Army is trained to combat bio-weapon attacks. The country has the proper advanced infrastructure for the development and research in the field of bio-defensive weapons. Also, in the year 2002, the then President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam said that India will not develop biological weapons as it is cruel to human beings. India has dedicated lab Defense Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), for the study of toxicology, biochemical pharmacology, and the development of antibodies against several bacterial and viral agents. India follows a ‘No first use nuclear doctrine’ and has not used its nuclear capability in the history.

The world’s response towards the convention

The Convention has been signed by 197 countries and has been ratified by 183 countries till August 2019. The United States of America ratified to the treaty in the year 1975, the United States of America has evolved the "United States biological defense program" which now also encompasses all federal level programs and efforts to monitor, prevent, and contain naturally occurring infectious disease outbreaks of widespread public health concern. These include efforts to forestall large scale disasters such as flu pandemics and other "emerging infections" such as novel pathogens or those imported from other countries.

The United Kingdom passed the United Kingdom Biological Weapons Act, 1974, which is "An Act to prohibit the development, production, acquisition and possession of certain biological agents and toxins and of biological weapons." Therefore, the United Kingdom has also taken the steps to prohibit the use of Bio-weapons.

International Mechanism for the control of Bio-weapons and weapons of mass destruction

The provisions laid down in the Biological weapons treaty, as discussed above, lays down the mechanism for the implementation of the treaty among its members. The signatories to the treaty undertake to follow co-operation with the other member countries to prevent the use, manufacture, storage etc of bio weapons in any country without any reasonable justification. The countries shall co-operate with other countries and the Security Council has been given powers to investigate into such matters coming into to its knowledge.

Way forward

The race among the countries has been very competitive. The times of actual war has now become a history and now the states are into a silent war, which is economic war. Each country wants to win over other countries and be the wealthiest country. The countries are in a war to have the fastest growing GDP. Rapid development is taking in all spheres of the economy and science and technology is being modernized. Sophisticated weapons are being developed. Though the use of Biological weapons has been banned by the UN Convention, however, the countries can develop such weapons for defensive purpose. Therefore, it is the need of time to prepare more sophisticated defense systems against such weapons.

Conclusion

In today’s time, all the countries are interdependent, development in the field of weapons and bombs has reached new heights, sophisticated weapons are being developed by the countries for their defence use. However, such weapons are also being used by the non-state actors such as terrorist organizations for wrongful purposes. Therefore, advancement in the field of bio-weapons and the defense and combat systems against such weapons has also become a necessity. The effects of Bio-weapon attacks are long lasting and may even end humanity. It spreads like a disease and is nearly impossible to control without proper defense mechanism. It spreads like the COVID-19 which is spreading today violently hitting the entire human race.

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