The Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) took place in December 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference focused on transparency in bio-industry and biodefense and on confidence-building measures. But the review conference might also contribute to the incremental approach to banning all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East—an approach that will be promoted at a conference later this year in Finland. The future of nonproliferation and disarmament diplomacy in the Middle East relies on eradicating pessimism that such a WMD-free zone is only an aspirational goal, not an urgent objective that can be achieved through practical, incremental steps. Taking action to first eliminate biological weapons, rather than the more controversial nuclear arsenals, and persuading hold-out states to sign and ratify the BWC would help states to achieve consensus and take practical steps toward the WMD-free zone that all states agree in principle.
Author(s): Nilsu Goren, Bilal Y. Saab