Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BWC, VEREX, CBM, UN, CPWMDPT. Did I miss any letters in the alphabet?

BWC, VEREX, CBM, UN, WMD, RCSP, CPWMDPT, BPSBTWCPBW. Did I miss any letters in the alphabet? Looking deeper into the report from yesterday's post, compiled by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (CPWMDPT), I found that there is such a plethora of agencies, treaties, commissions, committees, and conventions that deal with the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) that it must certainly be confusing for all involved when it comes to investigating issues and needs in this area. When asking whether there needs to be adjustments to the system that began in 1972 with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the answer is most definitely, yes. One adjustment that is blatantly obvious is consolidation and streamlining.

"The cornerstone of international efforts to prevent biological weapons proliferation and terrorism is the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). This treaty bans the development, production, and acquisition of biological and toxin weapons and the delivery systems specifically designed for their dispersal." - WMDReport.pdf

"It (the BWC) currently commits the 162 states that are party to it to prohibit the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. However, the absence of any formal verification regime to monitor compliance has limited the effectiveness of the Convention...This includes all microbial and other biological agents or toxins and their means of delivery (with exceptions for medical and defensive purposes in small quantities)." -- Wikipedia Link Here for those who have ratified or acceded into the BWC. You'll find that among them are Iran, Iraq, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, and...wait for it...Pakistan, among many others.

"Who loves his country cannot hate mankind." -- Charles Churchill

The BWC has been updated since its conception. "A long process of negotiation to add a verification mechanism began in the 1990s. Previously, at the second Review Conference of State Parties (RCSP) in 1986 member states agreed to strengthen the treaty by reporting annually Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to the United Nations (UN). The following Review Conference in 1991 established a group of government experts (known as VEREX). Negotiations towards an internationally-binding verification protocol to the BWC took place between 1995 and 2001." -- Wikipedia

What is VEREX? "Verification Experts (UN group monitoring the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction" -- VEREX VEREX is also known as The Bradford Project on Strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Preventing Biological Warfare (BPSBTWCPBW).

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -- Thomas Jefferson

Even with all of the agencies, treaties, commissions, committees and conventions, the current administration found that it was already a failing system, which is not really a big surprise. Here is a glance at the adjustments to the BWC.

"At the Fifth Review Conference in 2001 however, the Bush administration, after conducting a review of policy on biological weapons, decided that the proposed protocol did not suit the national interests of the United States. The US claiming that it would interfere with legitimate commercial and biodefense activity — unlike most arms control agreements, the BWC also applies to private parties. The Fifth Review Conference took place in November/December 2001, shortly after 9/11 and the anthrax scare.

It was decided to suspend the Fifth Review Conference and reconvene the following year. At the resumed conference it was agreed to establish annual meetings of state parties and experts who would look at specific issues, including:

2003: national mechanisms to establish and maintain the security and oversight of pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins.

2004: enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease.

2004: strengthening and broadening the capabilities for international institutions to detect and respond to the outbreak of infectious diseases (including diseases affecting plants and animals).

2005: codes of conduct for scientists." -- Wikipedia

Again, reading through this report is like reading a gigantic list of agencies, treaties, commissions, committees and conventions that are all set-up to monitor WMDs (not to mention the plethora of amazingly huge acronyms) but all fail to do the job well enough to keep the world safe. One major step that could prevent future disasters would be to consolidate and streamline so that the directions and statutes are clear and concise, as well as the information pipeline filtering to fewer policy makers.

There is also the conflict between safety from weapons and advances in science and medicine. That is a very tall wall getting in the way of considerable monitoring of the WMD situation. Advances in medicine and science are so important to the well being of humanity that it is hard to put WMD policies in place for fear they may sabotage evolutionary advances in these important areas.

Additionally, just because countries have signed something and ratified doesn't mean they are going to stand by their word. Once they have the power of the WMDs, they may not be as likely to feel threatened by governing agencies if they are in a power struggle, such as India and Pakistan, or even Russia. Possessing the possible usage of WMDs, those countries are very empowered to take a direction of their very own.

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