Cameroon joins Biological Weapons Convention

Cameroon was confirmed by the United States as a party to the Biological Weapons Convention on January 18.

Cameroon's accession to the convention brings the total membership of the BWC to 167 states parties following the accession of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on November 15.

The BWC was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons. A draft of the BWC was submitted by the British and opened for signature on April 10, 1972, before being entered into force on March 26, 1975, after 22 governments deposited their instruments of ratification.

The convention came as the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument to supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use, but not possession or development, of chemical and biological weapons.

The BWC's Article 1, commonly referred to as the general purpose criterion, defines the scope of the convention's prohibition, which includes all microbial and other biological agents or toxins and their means of delivery, with an exception for medical and defensive purposes in small quantities.

The general purpose criterion also encompasses all future scientific and technological developments relevant to the convention.

Fifteen countries have still not signed the BWC, including Israel and several African nations.