Regional Study Outlines Steps to Strengthen the Non-Proliferation of Biological Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean

December 13th, 2022

In the framework of the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) launched a regional study entitled ‘Non-proliferation of biological weapons: Challenges and Opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean’.

The new study provides an overview of the progress that States in the region have made in adopting national legal frameworks and practical measures to implement their international commitments against the proliferation of biological and toxin weapons, in particular the Biological Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004). It also provides a series of recommendations to strengthen the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Biological hazards can originate from a natural outbreak, an accidental or negligent release, or a deliberate biological attack. In all the scenarios, global commitments and effective national measures are vital to prevent them. 

Financed by Spain, UNLIREC’s regional study aims to serve as a useful tool for Latin American and Caribbean States to strengthen their commitments to the non-proliferation of biological and toxin weapons, which can also contribute to preventing, addressing, and responding adequately to potential epidemics and pandemics.

In his context, the study proposes measures that States can adopt, including establishing control lists and operational lists of dual-use goods and technology, which can be used for medical and industrial purposes, but also for illegitimate purposes, such as the development of weapons of mass destruction.

The publication also emphasises how confidence building measures can contribute to better and more transparent implementation of the prohibition on the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxic weapons and their destruction under the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. Such measures promote the exchange of information among States Parties to the Convention on, amongst others, outbreaks of infectious diseases, vaccine production facilities, as well as legislative and regulatory measures.

Finally, the study also highlights the importance of raising awareness among industry and academia on their role in improving national capacities to implement non-proliferation obligations.

The study ‘Non-proliferation of biological weapons: Challenges and Opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean’, is available HERE.