Following the 2001 end to negotiations on a legally binding protocol, Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) states parties (SPs) developed entrenched positions about the necessity of a verification regime, hindering progress on treaty aims. This study aimed to facilitate dialogue on verification-related issues outside the context of those positions, using the term "assurance" to represent the degree of certainty that SPs are meeting their treaty obligations. From August 2020-July 2021, 36 interviews were conducted—16 SPs' delegations and 20 subject matter experts, representing 20 countries—and interview content was analyzed utilizing a mixed methods approach, including quantitative metrics on qualitative interview content. Interviewees' views on verification, compliance, and related concepts varied widely. Efforts by SPs to achieve common understanding on these topics could facilitate concrete progress in these important areas. While no single mechanism is sufficient to achieve verification or assess compliance, packages of mechanisms could increase assurance. There was general support for implementing assurance mechanisms, even in the absence of a comprehensive, legally binding protocol or verification regime, even among SPs for which that is the primary goal. Avenues to increase assurance among BWC stakeholders merit further discussion in the Intersessional Programme following the 9th BWC Review Conference.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; Biological Weapons Convention; BWC; biological weapons; verification; nonproliferation; nonproliferation policy; arms control; disarmament; weapons of mass destruction; WMD; biology
Social Sciences, Political Science
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