One night in Bangkok

An overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in Southeast Asia.

By ILPI
23 November 2016

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This article provides an overview of the history and politics of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts in Southeast Asia, exploring, in particular, the establishment of the Southeast Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone (SEANWFZ). The paper also considers the role of Southeast Asian states in the humanitarian discourse on nuclear disarmament and in international efforts to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Implications of a nuclear weapons ban treaty for Japan

Japan—both a nuclear umbrella state and the only country to have suffered attacks by nuclear weapons—will be facing some very difficult decisions as the process towards a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons moves forward.

By Nobuo Hayashi  and Hirofumi Tosaki 
November 2016

On 27 October 2016, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee voted to commence negotiations in 2017 for the adoption of a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. This latest development in the movement known as the “Humanitarian Initiative” comes at a time when the divide between the proponents and opponents of a nuclear weapons ban has become increasingly entrenched.

21st century biodefence: Risks, trade-offs & responsible science

The dramatic increase in the number of laboratories and scientists working on dangerous pathogens and toxins has exacerbated safety and security risks

By Gregory Koblentz and Filippa Lentzos
  • There has been a dramatic increase in biodefence activities and in the number of facilities and researchers working with dangerous pathogens around the world.
  • This has generated a number of trade-offs, risks related to safety, security, responsible science and transparency.
  • The 2016 BWC Review Conference must encourage states to implement stringent national biosafety, biosecurity and dual-use research regulations; task the science advisory group to develop clear, internationally-recognised guidelines governing dual-use research of concern (DURC); establish a working group to revise the CBMs; and encourage states to participate in the CBM mechanism as well as more interactive information exchanges such as peer review and compliance assessment.

Keeping up with the scientists

To protect and implement the BWC, states parties must improve the framework for reviewing developments in science and technology

By Caitriona McLeish and James Revill
  • Science and technology (S&T) of relevance to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is advancing rapidly. Such developments have both positive and negative implications for the implementation of a number of the provisions of the BWC.
  • While science and technology reviews have been integrated into the overall BWC review process, their utility has been limited.
  • There is significant support for enhancing science and technology reviews, but differences remain over the details.
  • States parties need to develop a shared understanding of what they want science and technology reviews to achieve, and then determine the best framework to meet that objective. 

Divide and delegate: The future of the BWC

While greater operational application of BWC provisions is clearly needed, states parties should not try to make the BWC something it is not

By Richard Lennane
  • The BWC has successfully established a strong norm against biological weapons, but states parties have a poor record on collective action to implement and strengthen its provisions.
  • The intersessional process has revealed the signi cant potential of means of pursuing the BWC’s aims outside of the direct purview of the Convention, as well as the important role of actors other than states parties.
  • The Review Conference should recognize these facts, and pursue outcomes that protect and promote the norm against biological weapons, delegating operational details to those best placed to pursue them.
  • Such an approach could be applied in particular to Article VII assistance provisions, review of science and technology, and the structure of the intersessional process.

The ICJ Advisory Opinion on nuclear weapons and international humanitarian law

Panel presentation at the side event on legal aspects of nuclear disarmament at the UN General Assembly First Committee, October 2016.

By Dr Gro Nystuen
18 October 2016

The ICJ Advisory Opinion on the lawfulness of nuclear weapons was given 20 years ago, and there has been very different opinions as to whether it clarified or confused the question of how nuclear weapons are regulated by international law, and particularly international humanitarian law. Both from a legal and a political perspective, the Opinion has played and continues to play a key part in the discussions on nuclear disarmament.

Gender, development and nuclear weapons

Shared goals, shared concerns

By ILPI and UNIDIR
October 2016

This study discusses the relationship between nuclear weapons and gender—how and why the two are connected, both to each other, and to shared global agendas such as sustainable development.

Workshop in preparation for the Eighth Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference

On 19–20 September, ILPI, in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, organised a two-day workshop for Geneva-based diplomats on the science and politics of biological weapons and biology-related security issues.

By Daniel Frederik Mandrella

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which entered into force on 26 March 1975, is the main international legal instrument addressing biological weapons. Its provisions include a total ban of the development, production, and stockpiling of all biological weapons. While the prohibition itself is total, the Convention suffers from not having a formal verification mechanism confirming compliance. In addition, 21st century scientific and technological developments, including the emergence of ‘synthetic biology’ and genetic-engineering techniques such as CRISPR, have brought to the fore the increasing interconnection between international security and science and technology.