Feasibility of On-Site Verification

22 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2022

See all articles by Piers Millett

Piers Millett

iGEM Foundation

Tessa Alexanian

iGEM Foundation

Evan Appleton

Harvard University

James Diggans

Twist Bioscience

Michael Montague

University of Oxford - Future of Humanity Institute

Alexander Titus

Bioeconomy.XYZ; Council on Strategic Risks

Date Written: May 31, 2022

Abstract

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibits the development, production, and stockpiling of biological weapons. Since its creation in the 1970's it has lacked a mechanism to verify compliance of its States Parties. Most of the 1990s was spent trying to develop such a regime. These failed in 2001.

The authors consider the scientific and technical feasibility of verifying compliance with the BWC, primarily focussing on on-site verification (activities conducted with physical access to a facility) but also addressing off-site verification (activities that can be conducted from other locations). They review past thinking on what verifying the BTWC was to accomplish, the verification measures identified, and the assessment criteria used. They then examine changes in the life sciences, biotechnology, and biomanufacturing since the last time these issues were considered at the multilateral level in 1993.

Using criteria previously developed by the BWC States Parties, the authors assess the impact of current scientific and technical capabilities on verifying compliance with the BWC. They conclude that using a variety of measures in concert, and by compiling numerous sources of information and signatures of unusual behaviour, it might be feasible to identify non-compliance with the BWC. They identify several ways in which advances offer opportunities and challenges to verifying compliance with the BWC. They consider how current trends may affect future work on verification and how that might be integrated into the work of the BWC.

Keywords: biological weapons, bioweapons, verification, compliance, biological weapons convention, science policy

Suggested Citation

Millett, Piers and Alexanian, Tessa and Appleton, Evan and Diggans, James and Montague, Michael and Titus, Alexander, Feasibility of On-Site Verification (May 31, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4213018 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4213018

Piers Millett (Contact Author)

iGEM Foundation ( email )

8 bis rue Charles V
Paris, 75004
France

Tessa Alexanian

iGEM Foundation ( email )

Evan Appleton

Harvard University ( email )

James Diggans

Twist Bioscience ( email )

681 Gateway Blvd
South San Francisco, CA 94080
United States

Michael Montague

University of Oxford - Future of Humanity Institute ( email )

Alexander Titus

Bioeconomy.XYZ ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://bioeconomy.xyz/

Council on Strategic Risks ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://https://councilonstrategicrisks.org/

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