CSER’s Catherine Rhodes provides an analysis of the importance of effective implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention in this week’s Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:
“At their best, international treaties are not static objects. Rather, they are dynamic processes. They productively engage state and non-state actors. They stay relevant to, and actively shape, their “piece” of the world. Achieving a dynamic process is especially important for a treaty’s continued relevance when the treaty addresses or is affected by rapidly advancing science and technology.
Today, the world is witnessing numerous, high-profile developments in the life sciences—Crispr gene editing, gene drive technologies, low-cost sequencing and synthesis, and so forth. These developments often converge, in potentially powerful ways, with developments in other scientific and technological fields. Therefore, the key rules protecting the world against malign applications of developments in the life sciences should be particularly robust and dynamic. It is cause for alarm, then, that last November’s review conference for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention “failed”—and that chances for progress within the convention before 2021 may stall completely in just a few months.”