Projects / Current Projects
Improving the confidence building measures under the BWC
Project Period: since 2004
Funding: Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies (2006-2007)
Project officers: Iris Hunger, Gunnar Jeremias, Anna Zmorzynska
Because of the “dual use” character of most of the activities in biotechnology, transparency is one of the key mechanisms for strengthening the BWC. Transparency about and the willingness to explain the biological activities performed in a given country are of utmost importance in order to increase confidence in the peaceful nature of activities. Excessive secrecy of military and civilian activities in the biological field will sooner or later lead to misinterpretation and might result in suspicions of non-compliance.
Due to the persistent lack of a verification mechanism for the BWC, the confidence building measures (CBMs) that States Parties to the BWC agreed on in 1986, remain the only transparency enhancing mechanism in the framework of the BWC. The CBMs, which took the form of data exchange measures, were extended at the Third BWC Review Conference in 1991. They were not discussed in detail at the Fourth Review Conference in 1996, and no or little progress was achieved on them during the Fifth and Sixth Review Conference in 2001 and 2006.
The CBMs are administered through the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU).
The Research Group has been closely following developments of the CBM mechanism, has analysed the data exchanged under the CBMs, and has developed recommendations on how to improve the CBMs by focussing their content on the most relevant information and by increasing participation.
- Zmorzynska A (2007) Neither Here Nor There - Disease Outbreak Data in the Confidence Building Measures under the Biological Weapons Convention and in Open Sources, Research Group for Biological Arms Control, Occasional Paper No. 4, December 2007. (pdf)
- Isla N (2007) Strengthening the Confidence Building Measures: A Catalogue of Recommendations, Research Group for Biological Arms Control, Occasional Paper No. 3, March 2007. (pdf)
- Hunger I, Isla N (2006) Confidence-building needs transparency: an analysis of the BTWC's confidence-building measures, published in: Towards a Stronger BTWC, Disarmament Forum 2006, No. 3. (pdf)
- Isla N, Hunger I (2006) BWC 2006: Building Transparency Through Confidence-Building Measures, Arms Control Today Volume 36 Number 6, July/August 2006. (pdf)
- Isla N (2006) Transparency in past offensive biological weapons programmes: An analysis of Confidence Building Measure Form F 1992-2003, Hamburg Centre for Biological Arms Control, Occasional Paper No. 1, June 2006. (pdf)
- Hunger I (2005) Confidence Building Needs Transparency: A summary of data submitted under the bioweapons convention’s confidence building measures 1987-2003, Sunshine Project. (pdf)
- Chevrier M, Hunger I (2000) Confidence Building Measures for the BTWC: Performance and Potential, Non-Proliferation Review, Fall-Winter 2000. (pdf)
- Presentation “How can civil society play a constructive role in increasing transparency and building confidence between states parties?” at the Geneva Forum Workshop “Options and Proposals to strengthen the CBMs mechanism of the BWC” in Jongny, Switzerland (August 2009) (ppt)