Assistance and Cooperation under the Biological Weapons Convention

Article X of the Convention calls for the “fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes.

States Parties undertake to contribute to the further development and application of scientific discoveries in the field of biology for the prevention of disease, or for other peaceful purposes. States Parties also agree to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of States Parties to the Convention or international co-operation in the field of peaceful biological activities.


Besides addressing disarmament and security issues, the BWC also supports the promotion of the peaceful uses of biological science and technology and thereby helps to prevent the global spread of diseases.

Assistance and cooperation activities take place both at the bilateral and multilateral levels under the Convention and help build capacity in less developed countries.

Additional understandings and agreements reached by States Parties at previous review conferences

During the Eighth Review Conference, Article X was discussed in depth. In order to improve implementation of Article X, the Conference called upon States Parties to:

  • Continue strengthening existing international organizations and networks working on infectious diseases, in particular those of the WHO, FAO, OIE and IPPC

  • Improve communication on disease surveillance at all levels, including between States Parties and with the WHO, FAO, OIE and IPPC  Continue establishing and/or improving national and regional capabilities to survey, detect, diagnose and combat infectious diseases as well as other possible biological threats and integrate these efforts into national and/or regional emergency and disaster management plans

  • Continue supporting capacity-building in States Parties in need of assistance in the fields of disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious diseases and related research

  • Promote the development and production of vaccines and drugs to treat infectious disease through international cooperation

The full text of these additional understandings and agreements can be found in a document prepared by the Implementation Support Unit in 2018 (see Annex I).

Consideration of Article X related topics by States Parties during intersessional programmes

Intersessional Programme 2018 – 2020

States Parties are considering the folllowing topics at the annual Meetings of Experts on Cooperation and Assistance, with a Particular Focus on Strengthening Cooperation and Assistance under Article X (MX1) and the annual Meetings of States Parties in 2018, 2019 and 2020:

  • Consideration of the reports of the States Parties on their full and comprehensive implementation of all provisions of Article X;

  • Review of the report by the ISU on the operation of the assistance and cooperation database established by the Seventh Review Conference and renewed by the Eighth Review Conference and consideration of its further operationalization, including measures to further strengthen the operation of the database, including in the light of BWC/MSP/2017/4;

  • Identification of challenges and obstacles to developing international cooperation, assistance and exchange in the biological sciences and technology, including equipment and material, for peaceful purposes to their full potential, and possible ways and means of overcoming these;

  • Development of guidelines and procedures for mobilizing resources, including financial resources on a voluntary basis to address gaps and needs;

  • Facilitation of education, training, exchange and twinning programs and other means of developing human resources in biological sciences and technology related to implementation of the Convention, particularly in developing countries;

  • Promotion of capacity building, through international cooperation, in biosafety and biosecurity and for detecting, reporting and responding to outbreaks of infectious disease or biological weapons attacks, including in the areas of preparedness, response, and crisis management and mitigation;

  • Collaboration with international organizations and networks related to combating infectious diseases at all levels, as well as regional and sub-regional cooperation to promote implementation of all articles of the Convention.

Further information on the deliberations can be found in the respective meeting reports.

In 2018, the Implementation Support Unit prepared a background information document on ‘Cooperation and Assistance, with a Particular Focus on Strengthening Cooperation and Assistance under Article X’. A corrigendum in 2018 and an updated version in 2019 are also available.

Previous Intersessional Programmes

States Parties considered the topic “cooperation and assistance, with a particular focus on strengthening cooperation and assistance under Article X” during the 2012-2015 intersessional programme as a standing agenda item. Further information on common understandings reached by States Parties on the topic can be found in the respective meeting reports. States Parties considered the topic “Regional and sub-regional cooperation on implementation of the Convention” during the 2007 Meeting of Experts and Meeting of States Parties.