The CBW Non-Proliferation Regime. Neuroethics Education Module Unit 12. OBJECTIVE.
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Unit 12 begins by reviewing how State Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and more recently to the Chemical Weapons Convention, have come to understand that few practicing scientists have any knowledge of these conventions and of their responsibilities under them. The unit ends by outlining the main elements of the two conventions and the crucial role that scientists should play in strengthening the non-proliferation regime.
“7. The analysis of the various experiments made by State Parties…seems to reveal a number of key findings:
(a) Existing curricula and/or training at universities or research facilities do often contain references to aspects related to (bio-)safety, but rarely contain any aspects related to (bio-)security;
(b) While the existence of a well-developed sense for aspects related to (bio-)safety among students and practising life scientists has been repeatedly confirmed, there is, in general, a limited level of awareness of the risk of malevolent misuse of the biological sciences…”
(ii) Raise awareness of the Convention and of the potential risks inherent in scientific activity, and promote the need for reflection, coordination and discussion of possible security implications of scientific work;
(iii) Help build a culture of responsibility and accountability among the scientific community…”
“…codes of conduct…can support the objective and purpose of the Convention… in conjunction with other measures…[in]combating the present and future threats posed by biological and toxin weapons, as well as by raising awareness of the Convention, and by helping relevant actors to fulfil their legal, regulatory and professional obligations and ethical principles.”
“14. The Conference urges the inclusion in medical, scientific and military educational materials and programmes of information on the Convention and the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The Conference urges State Parties to promote the development of training and educational programmes for those granted access to biological agents and toxins relevant to the Convention and for those with the knowledge or capacity to modify such agents and toxins, in order to raise awareness of the risks, as well as of the obligations of State Parties under the Convention.”
“Many chemists, academics, scientists, engineers, technicians…have little or no exposure during their training and professional life to the ethical norms and regulatory requirements of the CWC….Education and awareness-raising about the norms and principles enshrined in the CWC are therefore becoming increasingly important.”
Advisory Panel on Future Priorities for the OPCW, 2011
“…the OPCW needs to prepare for a transition from mandates and efforts primarily characterised by the elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities to an agency that will have its main task to ensure that the menace of chemical warfare and the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes will never reappear…”
Advisory Panel on Future Priorities of the OPCW, 2011
“… biological science is increasingly making use of chemistry, to the point where it has become possible to chemically synthesize components of biological systems and simple biological agents such as viruses…. At the same time, the manufacturing of some chemical products makes use of biological processes. Examples include the use of bio-catalysts in chemical synthesis or even the use of living organisms (plants and animals) as production vessels for certain chemical products…”
“III. Neuroscience and peptides: medium to long term considerations
8. The Royal Society recommends that advances in neuroscience, particularly in the development and delivery of peptides and other transmitters, should be included in the review of science and technology….Although neuroscience is not specifically mentioned in the list of topical scientific subjects to be addressed by the new intersessional process, advances in production, dispersal and delivery technologies of biological agents and toxins is to be considered in 2015. This would be time to pay direct attention to this Royal Society recommendation, and the UK calls upon State Parties to come prepared to that meeting. In the meantime the UK favours placing the implications of neuroscience for the BTWC (and the CWC) as part of the regular scientific and technological review discussions in the intersessional process…”
“Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:
1. 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;
2. Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.”
“Five years after the entry into force of this Convention… a conference of States Parties to the Convention shall be held at Geneva, Switzerland, to review the operation of the Convention, with a view to assuring that the purposes of the preamble and the provisions of the Convention, including the provisions concerning negotiations on chemical weapons, are being realized. Such review shall take into account any new scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention.”
“Each State Party to this Convention shall, in accordance with its constitutional processes, take any necessary measures to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of the agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction or under its control anywhere.”
Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, munitions or elsewhere.
(For the purpose of implementing this Convention toxic chemicals which have been identified for the application of verification measures are listed in Schedules contained in the Annex on Chemicals.)”
22. The Conference shall not later than one year after the expiry of the fifth and the tenth year after the entry into force of this Convention…. undertake reviews of the operation of this Convention. Such reviews shall take into account any relevant scientific and technological developments. At intervals of five years thereafter…further sessions of the Conference shall be convened with the same objective.”
“We recommend that State Parties…agree language along the following lines:
‘State Parties recognise that all those engaged in the life sciences need to be aware of the prohibitions and the obligations of the Convention in order to achieve effective implementation and the State Parties agree that:
(a) increased efforts be made nationally, regionally and internationally to ensure that all those engaged in the life sciences are aware of the Convention and its prohibitions and obligations;
(e) State Parties be requested to advise subsequent Meetings of State Parties of the steps they have taken in regard to the above so that the experience gained and best practices can be shared for the benefit of all State Parties.’ “
What do we know about the present level of knowledge of life scientists in regard to the possible malign misuse of their work? Why has such a situation come about?
Why, as there a clear convergence of the sciences of chemistry and biology, are there two different international control mechanisms (the BTWC and the CWC) designed to protect their results from malign misuse? What is being done to ensure that there is not a gap between the implementation of these two agreements?
Compare and contrast the main strengths and weaknesses of the BTWC and the CWC.
Are the present efforts to improve the security education of neuroscientists adequate? If not, what do you think should be done about this?
UNIDIR (2012) Agent of Change? The CW Regime. Disarmament Forum, 1. Available at: http://www.unidir.org/files/publications/pdfs/agent-of-change-the-cw-regime-en-312.pdf
UK (2012) The convergence of chemistry and biology: implications of developments in neurosciences. BWC/MSP/2012/MX/WP.1 Available at: http://www.unog.ch/__80256ee600585943.nsf/%28httpPages%29/26e4793f76daf81ec1257a87002c4700?OpenDocument&ExpandSection=1
Poland (2012) The crucial role of life scientists in the effective implementation of the BTWC. BWC/MSP/2012/WP.2 Available at: http://www.unog.ch/__80256ee600585943.nsf/%28httpPages%29/89835cb0a2daa4a0c1257b6e003415c5?OpenDocument&ExpandSection=1#_Section1
Royal Society (2012) Brain Waves 3: Neuroscience, Society and Conflict. Available at: https://royalsociety.org/policy/projects/brain-waves/conflict-security/