Disarmament and International Security Committee
United Kingdom


Cite as

Ailís Ceara Haney and Johannes Jeremy Schmidt

Position Paper United Kingdom

Biological Warfare

Statement of the problem from UK perspective

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, further referred to as UK, is alarmed by the international community's difficulties in finding a common and effective strategy against the threat of biological warfare.

The UK has always been a leading actor in biomedical research, “from the invention of the smallpox vaccine to the discovery of penicillin and the development of DNA sequencing” (1), (Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt) inventions which increased the worldwide health standard significantly. After renouncing usage and development of biological warfare in the 1960’s, the UK became a founding member of the Biological Warfare Convention and actively promoted international cooperation in fighting bioterrorism.

We are therefore highly committed to further contributing strongly to international cooperation and to serve the world community with our efforts in combating the threat posed by biological weapons.

However, in order to do this, a stable framework must be available. The UK is aware of the risks and dangers that progress in knowledge and understanding implicates, if in the wrong hands with malicious intentions. The Biological Warfare Convention is highly important, but considering new developments in the field of biological sciences, the treaty must be updated. The international community needs to raise more attention towards the acute threat posed by biological agents and genome editing, and can therefore not hide behind the loose verification methods of the convention.

Actions are needed now, and similar to the development of the BWC the UK is committed to work as initiator and founding member once again.

Existing policies

The most important, most successful and most ratified agreement towards the goal of a world free of biological warfare surely remains the Biological Weapons Convention, established in 1972. Since its...