SIPRI warns of major challenges to 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recently declared that scientific and technological developments, particularly those occurring when chemical and biological sciences overlap, are becoming a major challenge to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.


According to SIPRI, the parties to the BTWC need to develop a clearer understanding of the convention’s role in supporting international peace and security once stockpiles are essentially destroyed. States must also continue to address determinations of what constitutes non-compliance with convention obligations or risk undermining the operational-level value of the regime, according to


The SIPRI 2011 yearbook, a guide to recent challenges to international security, details reports that emerged last May concerning severe crop damage caused by an unusual leaf disease that affected Afghanistan’s poppy crop. The blight led to a 48 percent decrease in opium yields from 2009.


“There was speculation that the blight was deliberately induced,” SIPRI said, reports. "Such allegations highlighted the difficulty of distinguishing between fundamental and technical violations of international law and the possible role of a form of politicized legal dispute that aims to cast aspersions on the behavior of other states.”


The BTWC outlawed offensive biological warfare, including the mass production, stockpiling and use of biological weapons, among signatories. Since the treaty was created, it has been ratified or acceded to by 163 countries for the purpose of preventing a biological attack that could cause mass civilian casualties or disrupt the global economy.