The chemical and biological non-proliferation regime after the COVID-19 epidemic

Shang, Lijun (2021) The chemical and biological non-proliferation regime after the COVID-19 epidemic. [Video]


The COVID-19 global pandemic and recent cases of chemical weapon use (e.g., in Syria and against the Skripals and Alexey Navalny) have demonstrated the multifaceted nature of biological and chemical threats that States face in the twenty-first century. These threats have also underscored the importance of strengthening the international norms against the hostile misuse of chemical and biological sciences enshrined in the 1975 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). But the centrepiece of international efforts to prevent the misuse of modern chemistry and biology - The Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention - rarely come to the attention of Parliament and public.

In December 2020, the Parliament Joint Committee on National Security Strategy published its First Report for the Session 2019-21 on Biosecurity and national security. This report focused on the difficulties of integrating the various means of governance within the United Kingdom but noted that: “Future biological risks to the UK will evolve rapidly, originating within or beyond its borders. These prospects encompass other serious disease outbreak, but also the ‘slow burn’ risk of anti-microbial resistance and reducing barriers to the (accidental or deliberate) spread of harmful biological substances".

In 2020, we started a series of projects on “Strengthening the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions” aimed to provide civil society input to biological and chemical security before BTWC 9th Review Conference in 2021 and the 5th Review Conference of the CWC in 2023. One of these projects is to present our newest research to law makers and the general public. This project is funded by London Metropolitan University Strategical Priority Funds. The outcome of this project is formed as a Report to the Parliament which is the topic of the webinar today.

In this webinar, we will discuss the difficulties of integrating the various means of governance external to the UK in relation to the Chemical and Biological Non-Proliferation Regime. We also review the state of the BTWC and CWC and identify practical opportunities to strengthen these critical Conventions and guarantee their relevance against the backdrop of rapid scientific and technological advancement and growing international instability. We will also carry out several interviews to get feedback on this report and webinar so that we can establish strong future connection with the Parliament and public on this important issue.

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