The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (usually referred to as the Biological Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BWC, or Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, abbreviation: BTWC) was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.
The Convention was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The Geneva Protocol prohibits use but not possession or development of chemical and biological weapons.
A draft of the BWC, submitted by the British was opened for signature on April 10, 1972 and entered into force 26 March 1975 when twenty-two governments had deposited their instruments of ratification. It commits the 173 states which are party to it as of December 2014 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. An additional nine states have signed the BWC but have yet to ratify the treaty.
- Article I: Never under any circumstances to acquire or retain biological weapons.
- Article II: To destroy or divert to peaceful purposes biological weapons and associated resources prior to joining.
- Article III: Not to transfer, or in any way assist, encourage or induce anyone else to acquire or retain biological weapons.
- Article IV: To take any national measures necessary to implement the provisions of the BWC domestically.
- Article V: To consult bilaterally and multilaterally to solve any problems with the implementation of the BWC.
- Article VI: To request the UN Security Council to investigate alleged breaches of the BWC and to comply with its subsequent decisions.
- Article VII: To assist States which have been exposed to a danger as a result of a violation of the BWC.
- Article VIII: To do all of the above in a way that encourages the peaceful uses of biological science and technology.