Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)

Mains level : Not Much

India has emphasized on following the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) at the UNSC meeting on Ukraine.

Why in news?

  • The meeting came after a request from Russia, who claimed that the US is involved in bioweapon manufacture in war-torn Ukraine.
  • However, Washington has strongly dismissed this claim.

What is BTWC?

  • The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was the first multilateral treaty categorically banning a class of weapon.
  • It is a treaty that came into force in 1975 and prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological weapons.
  • A total of 183 countries are party to the treaty that outlaws bioweapons, including US, Russia and Ukraine.

Obligations of the treaty

  • The treaty prohibits the development, stockpile, production, or transfer of biological agents and toxins of “types and quantities” that have no justification for protective or peaceful use.
  • Furthermore, the treaty bans the development of weapons, equipment, or delivery systems to disseminate such agents or toxins.
  • Should a state possess any agent, toxin, or delivery system for them, they have nine months from entry into force of the treaty to destroy their stockpiles, or divert them for peaceful use.
  • The convention stipulates that states shall cooperate bilaterally or multilaterally to solve compliance issues.
  • States may also submit complaints to the UNSCR should they believe another state is violating the treaty.

Issues with the treaty

  • There is no implementation body of the BTWC, allowing for blatant violations as seen in the past.
  • There is only a review conference that too every five years to review the convention’s implementation, and establish confidence-building measures.

Signatories to the BTWC

  • The Convention currently has 183 states-parties, including Palestine, and four signatories (Egypt, Haiti, Somalia, and Syria).
  • Ten states have neither signed nor ratified the BWC: Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, Namibia, South Sudan, and Tuvalu.


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